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Office of Disability Employment Policy
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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy

Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic

Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship

Self-employment has long been an option for individuals seeking a new or better career. And today, many individuals with disabilities are turning to the flexibility self-employment offers in assisting them to meet both professional and financial goals. Starting one's own business can offer similar flexibility, allowing people to make a living while maintaining a lot of latitude in choices such as work hours, nature of tasks and income. As a result, ODEP encourages and supports self-employment and entrepreneurship among individuals with disabilities and has helped foster an array of partnerships at the Federal, state and local levels to encourage access to funding and resources to assist individuals with disabilities interested in these alternatives to traditional employment.

The following resources provide more information about self-employment and entrepreneurship:

  • Entrepreneurship Resources — Information about self-employment and starting a business from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free service of ODEP.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) — Federal agency that provides assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
  • Assets for Independence (AFI) Program — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement and demonstrate an assets-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty; programs may include training on starting a business.
  • Road to Self-Sufficiency: A Guide to Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities — ODEP-funded guide that shows how entrepreneurship education can be implemented and offers suggestions on how to introduce self-employment as an option for all youth, including youth with disabilities.
  • Encouraging Future Innovation: Youth Entrepreneurship Education — Fact sheet describing benefits of entrepreneurship as a career option for young people with disabilities.
  • — Information on starting and growing a business.
  • The 5 Cs: Building Blocks of Business Planning — Information on how to create a comprehensive business plan.
  • Why a Mentor is Key to Small Business Growth and Survival — Blog from the Small Business Administration on mentorship for small businesses.
  • SCORE Small Business Mentors — Resource for finding a small business mentor.
  • Self-Employment: What to Know to Be Your Own Boss — Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistic on self-employment.
  • START-UP — ODEP initiated START-UP, a three year grant project, in 2007 to identify policies and practices then in place that either made it difficult for individuals with disabilities to become self-employed or supported them in becoming self-employed.  As part of the initiative, three states (Alaska, Florida and New York) were awarded grants to pilot new innovative models for assisting individuals with disabilities to start businesses.  A fourth grant established a national technical assistance center, Self-Employment Technical Assistance, Resources, & Training (START-UP/USA), to provide information and guidance about promoting self-employment for disabilities to the state grantees, as well as serving as a national resource for individuals and agencies wanting to pursue self-employment goals for people with disabilities.