Thank you Miriam for offering this useful information to families considering entrepreneurship. Miriam and Douglas Neal created AbleHope (ablehope.com) to show that although it’s challenging to care for an adult child with a disability, just a little dash of hope is enough to power you through from one day to the next.
It's tricky to juggle the responsibilities of parenting and business ownership, and doing so while living with disabilities can be even more of a challenge. Knowing what steps to take, when to take them, and what help is available to you will make this trio of stressors far more manageable. So here are some tips and resources to help you get started.
Write a Business Plan
A lack of planning is the best way to fail before your venture even begins. When you’re starting a new company, a viable business plan details what your company does in terms of products and services, how those commodities are sold to your customers, what profits you can expect, how much funding you'll need, and any other factors you feel are important to articulate in writing. Your plan should also reflect what scale your company will be starting at, whether it's to be housed in a home office or a physical storefront.
Plan your organization with accessibility in mind. Though your specific disability may not prevent you from climbing stairs, for instance, keeping your store accessible to every kind of person will attract a wider clientele. Your local laws and regulations may also require certain disability accommodations for your business to legally operate.
Your business plan will not only provide you with a roadmap, eliminating the stress of guesswork while you attend to your other limitations and obligations, but it will also attract potential investors. Banks and private funders will want to know that you're capable of delivering on your business's promise. A properly developed plan will assure them of just that. But be aware that potential lenders may also run your credit report to see if you have a history of repaying your debts. If your credit score is too low, you may be denied. It’s best to check your own rating before making any formal financial requests.
Know Your Local Requirements
With a plan and funding secured, you should make sure your business can operate legally as well as effectively. Your local laws may require your organization to have an Employee Identification Number. An EIN functions the same as a social security number but is used for government processes regarding businesses rather than people. Setting this up early on will spare you from a tax time scramble later.
There are a variety of licenses and permits your company will also require depending on your region and field of work. For example, restaurants will require staff to have food service certifications while a manufacturer will need to provide certifications for the operation of heavy machinery. There's no shame in seeking professional help to make sure your company is obtaining all the proper permissions before you begin operating.
You will also need to find out which employee benefits are required and which you would like to add to your benefits package. You are mandated to offer things like FMLA, disability, social security, and worker’s compensation. But most employees also expect non-required benefits, like paid time off, health insurance, and retirement plans.
A company isn't much of anything without customers, so it's a good idea to get the word out about what you're offering as early as possible. Advertising comes in many forms, the most obvious of which are flyers and print ads in local publications. This is fine if you're only marketing to people in your town, but an online presence is vital for online businesses or ones that are branching out.
Consider developing your online presence. A large majority of consumers utilize social media to determine which businesses to support. Themeisle explains that a functional and accessible website is also a must in putting your best foot forward online so you can show your customers the professionalism and care you're bringing to the business. You may even consider highlighting the accessibility measures mentioned previously.
While you can easily spread the word via social media, don’t neglect some old-fashioned approaches, too. For example, you can use a free business card design tool to generate cards that you can pass out to potential clients, or leave at key locations where potential customers are likely to gather.
Once your business is ready to operate and your customers know where you are and what you sell, all that's left to do is open. With these complicated aspects in place, starting a business is far more manageable, even for a parent living with disabilities. Just remember to write a business plan, learn about requirements, and market effectively.
Know the Hope is dedicated to helping both communities and parents embrace the wonder that is their child with disabilities. Visit them online for resources and more information about how you can support or be supported by our mission.
By Miriam Neal Ablehope.com
Until Next Time,
Know The Hope!
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