Guest Post Written by Erica Francis of Readyjob.org
Don't let a “disability” stop you from living your dream of owning your own business. Read on for tips on how to get started.
Do your research
There are a number of online sources out there that will answer most of the common questions. A good place to start is visiting the U.S. Small Business Administration online at SBA.gov. Take the time to look at your market to determine what you can do to set yourself apart from the competition. For instance, if your goal is to open your own recruiting agency, you may want to avoid industries oversaturated with talent and focus in an area struggling to find employees.
Know your niche
Some of the most successful businesses are also the most obscure. Establish yourself as an authority in a particular area and use the assets you have available to catapult yourself into a successful self-employment situation. As an example, if you have welding skills but want to tap into your creative side, you may wish to look into creating art for industrial facilities using materials from their own scrapyards.
Consider being an independent contractor
Technical and creative skills are in high demand and lend well to entrepreneurship. There are numerous freelance careers that are great options for homebound individuals, including online tutoring, curriculum development, and marketing content author. These contract positions offer extreme flexibility and allow you to work for yourself from the comfort of your own home. Thebiggest caveat of being a 1099 contractor is that you become responsible for paying your own taxes.
Figure out your financing
The Small Business Administration used to offer a loan assistance program specifically for people with disabilities. However, things have changed and financing for special needs business owners is no longer an easily accessible option. Most small business founders acquire startup funds through private equity or via small business loans. A small business loan is one designed to help a startup company higher staff, create a functional workspace and, in the case of those with disabilities, acquire assistive technology to adapt your workplace to work best with your physical or developmental needs.
In today’s digital economy, it’s necessary for most businesses to create a website that caters to their clientele. A business website should be designed with the customer in mind. Start by creating a FAQ section so that potential customers can find answers to their most common concerns. If you wish to create a website yourself, there are a number of services that can help you get started. Your site should be search engine optimized and filled with high-quality content including articles, blog posts, instructional videos, and anything else your customers may actively seek. In addition to online marketing, you should have business cards and informational brochures available for those customers who would rather do business offline.
Write a business plan
If you’re going to seek funding, you will have to draft a business plan. This is a document that includes an executive summary with an outline of your business, a description of your industry, specific marketing strategies you plan to use, a competitive analysis of your company versus others in your market, a section devoted to design and development of your business along with operations and management and a clear outline of financial factors. It is unlikely that you’ll receive funding without a well-thought-out business plan.
Take some advice
There are numerous organizations that offer free and low-cost counseling to new small business owners. One such organization, SCORE, has been around for more than half a century and offers small business owners free access to a vast network of (mostly retired) business experts that offer online and face-to-face counseling. SCORE mentors are veteran business leaders from your industry who give their time freely to help others achieve their dreams.
You must nurture your business in order for it to grow. Don’t be discouraged if your company is not an immediate overnight sensation. Keep in mind that profitability and success are two very different things. It may take a few years for a successful start up to enjoy any significant profit.