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


Chapter 1

Why Self-Employment?

Many people with disabilities dream of owning a business, but there is a gap between dream and reality that can be filled only with careful planning. The purpose of this book is to help you, the vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor, understand the process and steps for helping a consumer start a business to help people who wish to be self-employed start the most successful business possible.

According to the 1990 Census (the most recent statistics available), people 16-65 years old with disabilities are self-employed at higher rates than people without disabilities (12.2% vs. 7.8%). Non-metropolitan people with disabilities are self-employed at a higher rate than metropolitan people with disabilities or non-metropolitan people without disabilities (9.09%, 7.4%, and 7.5% respectively). In light of these statistics, it is likely that many of your VR customers will want to be self-employed.

Fig 1: Self-Employment Statistics

Graphic representation of the figures listed in the previous paragraph.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, self-employment is an important and often-used alternative to wage and salary employment. People who are self-employed also are major contributors to the economy and generate many new services and products. In 1994, 13% of the nonagricultural workers worked at some form of entrepreneurial activity.

People with disabilities are no different than anyone else who goes into business for him- or herself. They want to be self-employed for various reasons. They may seek freedom from the 9-5 daily work routine or want to be their own bosses. They may want to improve their standards of living, be bored with their current jobs, or prefer to work when and where they want. They may have products or services that they think are in demand. In rural areas, there may be few employers and jobs. People with disabilities may need flexible work schedules or need to work at home. Learn more about business owners with a disability.

Motivation aside, the successful small business will require:

  1. A practical plan with a solid foundation
  2. Dedication and willingness to sacrifice
  3. Technical skills
  4. Basic knowledge of management, finance, record keeping, and marketing

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to acknowledge self-employment as a legitimate employment outcome?

  2. As a VR counselor, what problems or difficulties have you experienced or do you anticipate as a result of supporting a consumer with pursuing self-employment?

  3. Have you ever been self-employed or wanted to own a business? Have any family members been self-employed? What is your perspective?

  4. Describe your state's self-employment policy and procedures. Are they effective? How would you change them?

  5. Describe the self-employment process you follow.

Chapter 1 Study Guide: Why Self-Employment?

  1. People with disabilities want to be self-employed for various reasons. List what you consider to be the top three reasons one of the consumers you work with might pursue self-employment.
  2. According to the 1990 Census, people with disabilities are self-employed at higher rates than people without disabilities (True or False).
  3. Which of the following are important for starting a successful small business?
    a.  Technical skills
    b.  A practical plan with a solid foundation
    c.  Basic knowledge of management, finance, record keeping, and marketing
    d.  Dedication and willingness to sacrifice
    e.  All of the above

Study Guide Answers: Chapter 1 - Why Self-Employment

 

 

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