“Born for Business” Disability Entrepreneurship Toolkit

Born For Business is a new groundbreaking docuseries focused on the talents, innovations and impact of entrepreneurs with varying disabilities. Many highly successful entrepreneurs have disabilities, including Richard Branson and most of the sharks on Shark Tank. Born For Business shines the spotlight on four emerging entrepreneurs: Chris Triebes, Qiana Allen, Collette Divitto and Lexi Zanghi. Entrepreneurship and self-employment can be a valuable and viable option for people with disabilities looking to enter the job market on their own terms. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities are self- employed at a rate nearly twice that of their non-disabled peers. As of the 2019 American Community Survey, approximately 700,000 workers with disabilities were self-employed, enjoying the flexibility and opportunities that entrepreneurship provides.

Approximately 70 percent of people with disabilities want to work, and thousands could become entrepreneurs if they can develop their skills and access capital. Potential entrepreneurs with disabilities need resources, assets and support in order to translate their entrepreneurial ideas into actual, viable businesses. This toolkit provides an inventory of existing materials, advice and guides for those jobseekers with disabilities ready to become self-employed, launch a new enterprise, or develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Federal Disability Entrepreneurship Resources

The federal government has collected and published a wide range of information to assist entrepreneurs with disabilities to become successful.

As published by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), these assets include:

  • Entrepreneurship Resources — Information about self-employment and starting a business from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free service of ODEP.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) — Federal agency that provides assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
  • SCORE Small Business Mentors — Seasoned business professionals help entrepreneurs start businesses, grow companies, and create jobs in local communities. Find a SCORE location near you.
  • Self-Employment: What to Know to Be Your Own Boss — Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on self-employment.
  • START-UP — ODEP initiated START-UP, a three-year grant project, in 2007 to identify policies and practices then in place that either made it difficult for individuals with disabilities to become self- employed or supported them in becoming self-employed. As part of the initiative, three states (Alaska, Florida, and New York) were awarded grants to pilot new innovative models for assisting individuals with disabilities to start businesses. A fourth grant established a national technical assistance center, Self-Employment Technical Assistance, Resources, & Training (START-UP/USA), to provide information and guidance about promoting self-employment for disabilities to the state grantees, as well as serving as a national resource for individuals and agencies wanting to pursue self-employment goals for people with disabilities.
  • Self-Employment for People with Disabilities (PDF) is the final report of the START-UP initiative. It describes the barriers experienced by the four grantees, the self- employment models tested, the achievements of the grant programs, and case studies of several individuals with disabilities who successfully became self-employed. The report also makes recommendations for adoption by agencies and individuals for realizing self-employment goals.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) — SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners a variety of free business consulting and low-cost training services.
  • How to Write a Business Plan — Online training course from the Small Business Administration explains the importance of business planning, defines, and describes the components of a business plan, and provides access to sample plans and resources that can help you develop a plan for your business.
  • USA.gov Start Your Own Business — Resources to help you start your own business, including information on programs to help military veterans and minorities become entrepreneurs.