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


In 2001, the Research and Training Center on Rural Rehabilitation Services surveyed a total of 346 Small Business Development Centers to learn about (a) their demographic characteristics, (2) their perceptions about their adequacy of resources and ability to serve individuals with disabilities, (3) their existing linkages between their agencies and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, and (4) their collaboration with Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies.

Researchers learned that SBDC’s focus most of their efforts on:

  • Business start-ups for micro-businesses: 23%
  • Business expansion: 21%
  • Business start-ups for businesses 18% larger than micro-businesses
  • Building community partnerships 14% to assist businesses

SBDCs reported the following perceptions between people with and people without disabilities. They perceived that people with disabilities:

  • Have less capital
  • Less Collateral
  • Less Realistic Expectation of the Business’s Potential
  • Were More Motivated
  • Started Businesses that earned Less Income

SBDCs felt it was important for a VR agency or counselor to:

  • Assist with disability issues
  • Understand both VR and SBDC roles, responsibilities, and expectations in the process
  • Provide consumers with info about the SBDC
  • Inform the SBDC when they refer a consumer to the SBDC for assistance
  • Address barriers to business ownership presented by the person’s disability