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  • Ed Carter

Disabled and Underemployed? It’s Time to Be Your Own Boss.

Guest post by Ed Carter, AbleFutures.org


Smiling disabled female-presenting entrepreneur at table in coffee shop
Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels

Have you ever thought how much easier life could be if you were your own boss?


No more micromanagers, annoying coworkers, and measly PTO. More importantly: no more inaccessible office buildings, overly rigid work schedules, and bosses ignoring your reasonable accommodations.


I’m going to let you in on a secret: You can.


Not only is it possible to work for yourself, self-employment is a total game-changer for people with disabilities.


Working on your own terms eliminates a ton of the barriers that people with disabilities face at work. However, self-employment also presents a lot of new challenges. What does it take to set yourself up as a business owner, build a business plan, and actually earn a living?


1. Choose a profitable business idea.

“Do what you love” is great advice for a hobby, but when it comes to starting a business, profit beats passion every time. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what you do, but it shouldn’t be the first factor in choosing a business venture. Profitability, skills, and lifestyle fit play a much bigger role in your long-term success.

  • Education, marketing, healthcare, software development, artificial intelligence, and data science are among the most in-demand industries today.

  • Online businesses like ecommerce stores, print-on-demand businesses, and virtual services require minimal experience and investment to start.


2. Set your startup budget.

What does it cost to start a business? You might be surprised at how little you’ll spend launching a new venture. Most micro- and home-based businesses cost less than $5,000 to start because they’re not paying huge overhead costs like rent and real estate.

  • Startup costs include things like market research, office equipment and software, a business website, and branding and advertising. Include both one-time and ongoing expenses in your budget.

  • Grants, loans, and technical assistance are available to help disabled entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

  • If you need assistive technology to work from home, look into grants and programs to buy assistive technology or borrow it at a low cost.


3. Make your company official.

Dealing with legal red tape is the most intimidating aspect of starting a business, but it’s a lot easier than you think.


That’s because most small and micro-businesses operate as limited liability companies (LLCs), not corporations. These simplified business structures require a lot less paperwork and are inexpensive to form in most states.


  • When looking into how to start a business in Virginia, you’ll find that it only costs $100 to $120, plus a $50 annual registration fee. You’ll also need to get an EIN (but that’s free).

  • Business licensing requirements vary by location and industry. At a minimum, you’ll probably need a general business license and home occupation permit.

  • It’s important to understand your tax obligations as a self-employed business owner. Luckily, taxes for single-member businesses are fairly straightforward.


4. Invest in infrastructure.

Too many first-time entrepreneurs try to run their business on a shoestring budget. Being frugal isn’t a bad thing, but you can’t grow your business without the necessary infrastructure. Otherwise, you’ll spend all of your time working in your business instead of working on your business.


  • That includes basic tools for cloud storage, accounting, invoicing, online payments, and project management.

  • Before buying business software, check if they offer a free plan. A lot of business apps offer a scaled-down version for light users.

  • Don’t wait to invest in digital marketing tools. It’s easier to grow your business when you invest in automated marketing from the start.


There’s way more to starting a successful business than we can cover here. Now that you know what’s possible, book a one-on-one coaching session to develop your personalized business strategy. After each session at The Follow Through Firm, you’ll walk away with actionable advice and the mindset to put your big plans to action.


So, tell us: what business will you start?


Ed Carter has worked with clients of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes. About 10 years into his career, he saw a need for financial planners who specialize in helping individuals and families living with disabilities. Learn more about Ed's work at AbleFutures.org.

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