Self-Employment Steps for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors: Helping a Consumer Start a Business

Chapter 7:


Besides the programs discussed above, each community, county, and state has a variety of other resources that may be tapped to assist with business development and retention and with community economic development efforts. These resources include local libraries, chambers of commerce, industry and trade associations, manufacturers or suppliers of products and services, and the resources listed below. This section is not exhaustive, but provides examples of what may be available for the people you assist with achieving self-employment and to your agency. In addition, this section contains just a small sampling of helpful books and worldwide web pages. Again, these are provided to assist as a springboard for discovering other available resources. Let your fingers do the walking!

Business Development Directories

Most states or regions within a state publish statewide or regional directories. They may have different titles but look for something similar to the Montana Business Assistance & Community Development Resource Directory or the Business Resource Directory: A Practical Guide to Financing and Business Development Services in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Generally they provide program descriptions so individuals can locate the services or organizations that can address their specific question or need. 

For example, the Montana directory contains an index of agencies, organizations, and programs; then divides the programs into finance and tax incentive programs, technical assistance programs, industry and government associations, and local office listings for statewide and regional programs. Then local resources are provided. First is an alphabetical list of organizations by name followed by the resources that are available in each county. Brief descriptions of each program are provided. 

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Directory is organized so business owners searching for a particular service or financing tool can find what they need by referring to a business resource matrix. This is followed by program descriptions. 

Some of the resources listed for the Pittsburgh area in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Directory include:

  • Pittsburgh Vision Services Business 
  • Enterprise Venture 
  • Ben Franklin Technology Center
  • University of Pittsburgh-SBDC
  • Duquesne University-SBDC
  • SCORE (local chapter)
  • Allegheny County MBE/WBE Certification Program
  • Small Business Administration
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
  • Minority Enterprise Corporation of Southwestern PA
  • Minority Business Administration, City of Pittsburgh
  • Community Loan Fund of Southwestern PA

Programs or Organizations Specifically for Persons With a Disability

There are programs across the United States that specifically serve individuals with disabilities or have programs within their agency or organization that are dedicated to individuals with disabilities who are considering business ownership. These programs can serve as model programs and provide technical assistance to you or your agency. They include:

BOLD Consulting Project (Businesspeople Overcoming Limitations from Disabilities)
Alice Weiss Doyel
12136 W. Bayaud Avenue, Suite 100 
Lakewood, Colorado 80228-2115

BOLD Consulting Group provides resources, consulting services, and training for organizations that want to start, modify or expand entrepreneurship programs for people with disabilities; works with government and non-profit organizations on the development and management of entrepreneurship programs for people with disabilities; is dedicated to providing persons with disabilities the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as an employment option. 

Disabled Businesspersons Association
Urban Miyares 
San Diego State University, Interwork Institute
5850 Hardy Avenue, Suite 112
San Diego, CA 92182-5313

The Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA) is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit, public charity and educational organization founded in 1991 to help disabled entrepreneurs and professionals maximize their potential in the business world, and to encourage the participation and enhance the performance of the disabled in the workforce.

Iowa's Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program
Patti Lind
101 E. Van Buren
Centerville, IA 52544

Iowa’s Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program can provide information on enabling legislation, administrative rules, and program materials available to state government organizations. 

Partnership Development Group
Morris Tranen
1215 Annapolis Road, Suite 202
Odenton, MD 21113
410.519.7333 (voice)
410.519.1208 (fax)
410.519.1209 (TTY)

Partnership Development Group is a national consulting firm that focuses on self-employment for persons with disabilities. Services include program planning and design, regional and local market analysis, entrepreneurship training, staff development, client tracking and evaluation.

Rural Institute on Disabilities
Nancy Arnold
Room 52 Corbin Hall
The University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812

The Research and Training Center on Rural Rehabilitation Services works with vocational rehabilitation agencies and Independent Living Centers to promote the use of self-employment and economic development activities within those programs. As a result of research it has developed a model state VR policy, implementing procedures, and a counselor curriculum.

The Small Business and Self-Employment Service
Job Accommodation Network 
P.O. Box 6080
Morgantown, WV 26506-6080
800.526.7234 (voice)
304.293.5407 (FAX)

The Small Business and Self-Employment Service (SBES) is a service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. SBES provides comprehensive information, counseling, and referrals about self-employment and small business ownership for people with disabilities.


Many books on starting a business or on developing a business plan are available at bookstores and libraries. The following lists just a few of those books.

  • On Your Own: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Business (2nd Ed), Laurie B. Zuckerman, Upstart Publishing, Inc.
  • The Business Planning Guide (6th Ed), Book & Software. David H. Bangs, Upstart Publishing, Inc.
  • Anatomy of a Business Plan (3rd Ed) Linda Pinson & Jerry Jinnett, Upstart Publishing, Inc.
  • How to Really Create a Successful Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide (3rd Ed), David E. Gumpert, Inc. Publishing.
  • Directory of U.S. Microenterprise Programs published by the Self-Employment Learning Project of the Aspen Institute, 133 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Suite 1070, Washington, D.C.
  • Business Plans for Dummies: A Reference for the Rest of Us, Paul Tiffany & Steven D. Peterson, IDG Books Worldwide.
  • Government Giveaways for Entrepreneurs II (4th Ed), Matthew Lesko, Information U.S.A.
  • Starting and Operating a Business in (State): A Step-by-Step Guide, PSI Research, The Oasis Press/PSI Research, Grants Pass, Oregon.
  • The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century: The Inside Information You Need to Know to Select a Home-Based Business That’s Right for You, Paul and Sarah Edwards, Penguin Putnam, Inc.
  • The Perfect Business, Michael LeBoeuf, A Fireside Book Published by Simon & Schuster.
  • No More Job Interviews! Self-Employment Strategies for People with Disabilities, Alice Weiss Doyel, Training Resource Network, Inc., St. Augustine, Florida.

Small Business Resources

Canada/British Columbia Business Service Society

Hosted by the BC government, this site is full of practical advice, exploring tips on small business opportunities, and how to become an employer.

Costco Connection
999 Lake Drive
Issaquah, WA 98027

Costco publishes Costco Connection, a lifestyle magazine for small businesses.

Internal Revenue Service

Visit the IRS web site or call 800.829.3676 for information on a variety of products developed for small business/self-employed.

Service Corps of Retired Executives
409 3rd Street, SW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20204

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE is dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth, and success of small business nationwide.

Small Business Administration 
409 3rd Street SW
Washington, DC 20416

SBA offers training, advocacy, and loan guarantees for small firms in every state and works with thousands of lending, educational, and training institutions.

Online Women's Business Center 

The Center promotes the growth of women-owned businesses. There is a women's business ownership representative in every Small Business Administration district office. 

Invention/Innovation Assistance

There are programs that evaluate inventions. For example, many states have a center located at a University that evaluates an invention’s marketability. 

One such program is the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. It conducts market and technical feasibility assessments of new product ideas. WISC offers an affordable way for inventors and entrepreneurs to have their ideas evaluated and get enough information to make well-informed decisions on the further development of their products. To order more information about the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, contact them at 262.472.1365, 402 McCutchen Hall, Whitewater, WI 53190, or on the worldwide web at

Another program is conducted by the Inventions & Innovation Program (I&I), U.S. Department of Energy. The Inventions and Innovation Program provides financial assistance and technical support to inventors and businesses for promising energy-saving concepts and technologies. I&I selects technologies to receive grants through a competitive process. To learn more visit

Colleges and Universities

Many colleges, community colleges, and universities house programs that assist prospective or current business owners with business development activities. For example, many business schools conduct classes where the students work with a business owner to conduct market analyses, feasibility studies, or to develop business plans, or will assist a business with similar activities once it is operating. Business school interns also are a possible resource to assist with business development. Small Business Development Centers are aligned with units of higher education. Many schools house business assistance centers such as Montana Business Connections, which is located at the University of Montana or technology assistance centers such as the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, discussed under the invention/innovation assistance section above. 

Franchise Information

How to Open a Franchise Business, Mike Powers, Avon Books.

The Franchise Doctor

State Franchise Information Guidelines

Although all franchises are subject to the Federal Trade Commission regulations, many states have additional laws governing franchises and similar business opportunities. This site provides state-by-state information on state franchise and business opportunity statutes; laws affecting franchise transfers, renewals, and terminations; state franchise law enforcement offices; and state advertising filings and review procedures.

Entrepreneur Magazine

This web site lists Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 franchise rankings. Only franchise companies that submitted complete U.S. Uniform Franchise Offering Circulars (UFOCs) or Alberta, Canada disclosure documents and whose information Entrepreneur verified from the disclosure documents were eligible to receive a listing in the magazine and online database. 


FranInfo’s purpose is to provide as much information regarding all aspects of franchising as it can within certain limits that constrain all commercial endeavors. Its site alphabetically lists telephone numbers of the most frequently asked about franchises and a page of “Outstanding Franchises Home Pages.”

United States Postal Inspection Service: Distributorship and Franchise Fraud

Lists some things to watch out for when investigating a franchise opportunity.

The Franchise Handbook On-Line

Enterprise Magazines, Inc. franchise page. Among other features contains lists of featured franchises, a directory of franchise opportunities, the latest news about the franchise industry, articles on franchising, list of worldwide franchise associations, and links to franchise information on the web. 

Minority Resources

African American Resources

African-American Web Connection 
This site provides a doorway to “Afrocentric” web resources. 

Black Business Connection
Wright Side Up, Inc.
405 Tarrytown Road, Room 376
White Plains, NY 10607

Wright Side Up Inc. is an online marketing and publishing firm based in Westchester County, New York. It helps small businesses and independent consultants gain exposure and market their product/services effectively for very little cost. The web site, BlackBusinessSM, is the main vehicle through which they accomplish this goal. They do in-house graphics/layout work and offer these services to other businesses. They firmly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and support those in realizing the American Dream. If you have any suggestions for this web site, contact them.

Hispanic Resources

98 San Jacinto Boulevard, Suite 1150
Austin, TX 78701

HISPANIC Magazine’s web site highlights articles from back issues and provides links to other Hispanic web sites. 

HispanicBiz-Business Resources
Instant Communications
7654 Coral Way
Dublin, CA 94568
510.828/7350 ext. 3

This site provides a one-stop information services for small businesses, professionals, and students in California and worldwide.

The Latino Economic Development Corporation, Inc.
2316 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009-1815

Helps low income Latinos obtain housing by using government funds and directs Latinos to nonprofit organizations that procure funds for business development.

United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
2175 K Street NW, Suite 100
Washington, D.C. 20037
202.842.3221 (fax)

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce advocates, promotes, and facilitate the success of Hispanic businesses.

Native American Resources

American Indian Chambers of Commerce
Use a search engine (like Google) to search for American Indian Chambers of Commerce.

Oklahoma Native American Business Development Center
616 S. Boston Ave., Suite 304
Tulsa, OK 74115
918.592.1212 fax

Provides free business start-up, financial management, financial analysis, marketing management, business plans, and procurement assistance for Native Americans. 

Tribal Credit Programs

Some tribes have initiated credit programs to serve members. In many instances, interest rates are very attractive and offer an alternative funding source for persons seeking to start their own business

Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Indian Financing Act of 1974 provides guaranteed loans, direct loans, and grants to tribes, tribal members, and Indian organizations for establishing, expanding, or purchasing a business on or near a reservation when financing is not available from normal sources. Programs include:

  • Guaranteed Loan Program
    These are loans made by private lenders, usually commercial banks, on which payment is guaranteed for up to 90% of the unpaid interest and principal balance in event of default by the borrower. The purpose of the guarantee is to assist the borrower in obtaining loans from private lenders by providing additional collateral needed to secure the loan.
  • U.S. Direct Loans - Direct loans are made directly from the U.S. government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Direct loans are made under the following criteria: Applicants must demonstrate they are unable to obtain funds from other sources, including the BIA loan guaranty or grant programs; the maximum amount is $350,000 for individuals; and the applicant must have equity equal to 20% of the total cost of the business to be financed.

Chapter 7 Study Guide: Resources and Resource Partners

  1. The Small Business Administration loans money to small businesses. 
    T_____ F_____ 

  2. The Small Business Administration is one of the ___________ sources of assistance and funding available to small businesses.

  3. Counselors should visit the local SBA office to determine it’s and the ___________ a consumer would need to use its services.

  4. There are many grants available for people with disabilities to start a business.
    T_____ F_____ 

  5. For people with disabilities, family and friends most often are the people who provide financing for a start-up business.
    T_____ F_____ 

  6. A woman or a minority individual with a disability may be given special consideration for loans because of being a woman or a minority. 
    T_____ F_____ 

  7. When seeking a business loan, the business owner should be prepared to _____________ any of the lender’s questions and defend all assertions.

  8. VR funds can be used to leverage funds from other sources. These funds may count towards the 10-33% equity some lenders require.
    T_____ F_____ 

  9. It is appropriate for a VR counselor to participate in the loan interview. The counselor can advocate for and provide support by explaining accommodations for or providing information about a disability. 
    T_____ F_____ 

  10. List and explain two sources of assistance for minority entrepreneurs.

Study Guide Answers: Chapter 7 - Resources

© July 1998, 1st Revision June 1999, 2nd Revision February 2001