Self-employment is booming across America with an estimated 20 million Americans owning home-based businesses. The self-employment rate is growing at over 20% annually. Between 1990 and 1994, microenterprise (businesses employing 1 to 5 workers) generated 43% of all new jobs in the United States and in the past decade, 60% of microenterprises were owned by women. All of these businesses created more jobs than the entire Fortune 500 combined. This cultural and economic shift of taking individual opportunity, which appears to be largely unaffected by good or bad economic times, presents another promising career option to individuals with significant disabilities.
Self-employment is another option under the Customized Employment umbrella of vocational approaches. Business ownership relies on the same basic assumptions and practices too. As such:
The prospective business owner’s interests, preferences, and talents drive the enterprise development process, not the market. A melding of product and market occurs through feasibility testing, modification, and adaptation.
Paid and unpaid natural supports are utilized to highlight the individuals contributions to the business. As such, accounting services might be a free family support or a paid accounting service purchased in the local community.
Business acumen is important, but not the driving force. While many modern training programs focus on business management skills, in reality, most small business owners are artisans concentrating on making their products or delivering the services. Business supports can be purchased or developed for people with disabilities just as they are for anyone. Knowing the business side of an enterprise is desirable, but never a prerequisite.
Small business strategies work in urban, suburban, and rural communities when proper adaptations and approaches are utilized.
Small business ownership can be a substantial job accommodation.
Groups businesses owned by people with disabilities are seldom without significant problems. The business, self-determination, and choice process that Griffin-Hammis Associates uses requires individualization, otherwise it violates the basic premise of Customized Employment.
Griffin-Hammis Associates offers a significant array of Self-Employment training topics, as well as individualized technical consultation. Our preferred approach to building self-employment capacity as a funded service is to work with community rehabilitation agencies and various entities, such as university programs and state disability agencies (DD Councils, Mental Health Authorities, Vocational Rehabilitation, Workforce Investment Programs) over a period of at least a year. Over the 12-month period a program is designed to identify local small business resources; train support staff, families, and prospective business owners in such fundamentals as:
Business Plan Development
Business Idea Testing & Feasibility
Social Security Work Incentives Applicable to Self Employment
Marketing and Sales
Improving Operations through Systematic Instruction Techniques
This classroom instruction is augmented with individualized consultation with the prospective business owner and their Business Design Team.
For more information on developing a project in your community, please contact Griffin-Hammis Associates.