[Excerpt] Supporting individuals with significant disabilities to start their own businesses may seem like uncharted territory to Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs). Until recently, self-employment was viewed as an employment goal only for people with disabilities who had a business background and/or were thought capable of designing and implementing a business plan. For many individuals, particularly those who had cognitive disabilities, self-employment was not viewed as an attainable goal.
One reason that this has not been seen as a viable employment outcome is the perception that anyone owning a business must be able to run the company independently. However, most business owners without disabilities are “interdependent” on others to assist them in the day-to-day operations. For instance, an accountant is hired to maintain the company books, or a sales staff is used to market and distribute products. Business owners with disabilities can hire staff to assist with business operations just like any other business owner as well as with other supports necessary for them to be gainfully self-employed. Prospective entrepreneurs with disabilities, their families and friends, and CRP staff involved in supporting these efforts may find themselves with questions about where to begin. This fact sheet will address some of these questions.