Hidden strengths of the disabled running a small business

Cathy Grant is a freelance writer and columnist that has been a satisfied client of BCITS for far more years than she cares to admit to. As a new member of the peer support group she hopes to continue her positive relationship with BCITS for many years to come. Please note that BCITS does not endorse any companies mentioned in this post.

Many “experts” believe that disabled people can’t or shouldn’t run their own business. These people I am referring to as “experts” include the many professionals (social workers, doctors, care workers, PTs and OTs etc.) that are a large part of a disabled person’s everyday life. In my opinion their input is not always adding value.

I simply point to the many disabled people who run (or help run) their own individualised funding; either through a micro-board or CSIL (Choice in Supports for Independent Living), a program by the BC government promoting a self-directed option for eligible home support clients. I believe these are businesses and far more complex than a lot of other business options out there.

I think, living with a disability confers many skills (such as advocacy, navigating bureaucracies, communication with those in positions of power, negotiating complex systems etc.) that stand disabled people in good stead as business owners.

Possibly the only legitimate question that many “experts” and people in general have about starting your own business as a disabled person: what sort of business do you want to start?

In an article that advocates for disabled people to start their own business, I will not try to dissuade anybody from exploring any type of business option. Although, if you have an idea for a business that requires the investment of large amounts of money, I can only wish you luck. But there are others business opportunities that do not require an arm and a leg to get started in.

One of the first options that comes to mind are the various multi-level marketing opportunities out there that are not scams but offer legitimate opportunities. I know of one young disabled woman who has made several thousand dollars in commissions over the years through this method. I encourage you to do your research and find the right ‘fit’ for you.

Use the internet for business opportunities! For example: despite a recent levelling off in demand, there is still a market for eBooks of all sorts. Websites like Amazon KDP (you will need to sign up for an account with Amazon to access this section) and Smashwords, make independent publishing surprisingly easy and free. YouTube also offers potential ways to make money.

As a means of financing a creative project or securing long term financial support, a good place to start may be Kickstarter or Patreon, both so called crowdfunding platforms.

To actually help create your projects, the Vancouver Public Library has free production facilities available.

All that is required from you is a lot of hard work.

Next time we’ll take a look at perhaps the biggest hurdle to starting your own business.

Part 3 will be published in a few weeks. Make sure not to miss it and sign up for an email notification using the “Follow” button at the bottom of this page.

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