Why Parents With Disabilities are Starting Businesses (and How You Can Too)

Ed Carter, August 19, 2021

Ed Carter is a retired financial planner who uses his expertise to help people with disabilities plan ahead, as physical and mental disabilities often cause stress and confusion when it comes to financial planning. As we emerge from COVID, with millions still looking for ways to support themselves and their families, Ed’s ideas are more important than ever. You can email him at edcarter@ablefutures.org.

Finding the right career opportunity is tough when you have a disability. Even with the protections offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled jobseekers face barriers including lower educational attainment, higher levels of poverty, and misconceptions about what it means to have a disability.

For mothers with disabilities, the job market is even bl.eaker: Mothers experience significantly lower callback rates than childless applicants across industries due to assumptions about a mother’s commitment to her career.

With so much stacked against them, it’s no surprise that self-employment is a popular career choice for mothers with disabilities. More than half of working women with children are interested in entrepreneurship. That number rises even higher among women with disabilities who are disadvantaged in the traditional labor market.

Starting a business offers flexibility, autonomy, and limitless earning potential, but it also comes with challenges. Not only do first-time business owners lack the know-how, but they also struggle to find money to start a business.

Luckily, there’s never been more help for aspiring entrepreneurs. If you want to become your own boss but don’t know where to start, use these tips to set your plan in motion.

1. Choose an easy business to start

The best businesses for first-time entrepreneurs are low-risk, low-cost, and scalable. As a parent with a disability, it’s also important to choose a business that fits your lifestyle. Do you need the ability to work from home, run your business part-time, or take time off during holidays and summer breaks?

These limitations may clash with a brick-and-mortar business, but there are lots of business ideas with the flexibility you need. Ideas include:

  • Cleaning services.
  • Pet sitting.
  • Property management.
  • Virtual assistant.
  • Social media management.
  • Website design.
  • Tax preparation.
  • Tutoring.
  • Writing/blogging.
  • E-commerce dropshipping.
  • eBay selling.
  • Pop-up shops.

2. Legally start your business

Most self-employed people operate as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company. You don’t have to file any paperwork to establish a sole proprietorship. However, you do need to file a DBA (“doing business as”) if doing business under a name other than your personal name. Filing a DBA is a fairly straightforward process, but some states do require publishing your DBA in local newspapers.

Starting an LLC is slightly more complex, but still easy enough to do yourself. In addition to naming your business, registering an LLC requires completing Articles of Incorporation and paying filing fees.

Once your legal business entity is established, you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and open a business bank account. Your state, county, or city may require additional business licenses and permits. Contact your local Small Business Development Center or city clerk to determine what’s required in your state.

3. Find Startup Capital

Even an affordable business idea requires money to start. You need to set up an office, purchase assets and supplies, and pay the initial fees to start your business. After calculating your startup budget, compare funding options to find the best fit.

Your talents may be underappreciated in the job market, but the truth is, few people are more resilient, industrious, and creative than parents with disabilities. If the workforce isn’t working for you anymore, take the opportunity to do something different. Starting a business just might be your family’s path to a brighter future.

  • Family and friends are an important source of startup capital for many entrepreneurs. A promissory note protects all parties when taking a loan from family and friends.
  • Borrowing money from your 401(k) or IRA is an option if you have a nest egg from a previous career. However, borrowing from your retirement isn’t risk-free.
  • While qualifying for business loans is challenging as a new entrepreneur, you may be able to get a business credit card for startup expenses. The best options offer 0% introductory APR and cashback on purchases.
  • Special funding programs are available to disadvantaged entrepreneurs including microloans for entrepreneurs with disabilities and assistive technology business loans. Women entrepreneurs can also apply for free money through grant programs like the Amber Grant.
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