Strategies For Starting A Successful Business Venture When You Have A Disability
Taking the plunge into a new business venture can be daunting in some respects, especially when you have a disability. However, with a couple clever strategies and some handy tools, you can successfully navigate the transition into a new career. Plus, delving into the world of entrepreneurship offers several noteworthy benefits to those who are disabled such as:
- Flexible work schedules
- Comfortable work environment personalized for your needs
- Ability to set schedule and pace
- Continued support via Social Security Disability Insurance
If your interest is peaked, here’s how to get started in your pursuit of success!
Do you have an idea you’re passionate about pursuing? Or are you struggling to find your path but know you have a talent for business and management? Sometimes ideas come to us vaguely, and it can be challenging to narrow our direction. If you’re wrestling with the precise avenue for your new venture, take heart. With a little brainstorming and thought-processing you can make your vision more clear. Entrepreneur suggests making a list of five to seven things you excel at doing. For instance, your list might look like this:
- I love to be with people all day.
- I am an excellent communicator, in writing, in person, and on the phone.
- I love words and concepts.
- I enjoy researching.
- I am very organized and timely.
Then make a similar list of things you don’t enjoy doing. For instance, if you don’t like to work with numbers, don’t work well in an unstructured setting, or public speaking is your downfall, that sort of thing should be in your notes. Then ask yourself what three to five services or products would improve your life. Those things could relate to your personal or business life, either one. Once your lists are complete, go back through them and evaluate your notes to determine if a pattern emerges. You can find a niche carved out through your strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests. However, don’t get so caught up in all the exciting possibilities that you forget to ask yourself some important and challenging questions. What are your reasons for starting a business? Is now really a good time? Are you in a good spot financially? Can you handle the amount of time and dedication that it takes to get your business off the ground? If you truly feel that you are ready to take on the title of entrepreneur, then read ahead.
Working From Home
Depending on your situation, working from home may be a particularly good fit. A home-based business provides flexibility and convenience while being an economically sound decision. You can tailor your environment to best support your unique needs, and adjust your schedule according to workload and personal obligations. There are opportunities galore. If you make a product such as jewelry, coffee mugs, or handcrafted soaps, there are web-based platforms already established with a steady flow of clients which reaches around the world. In this case, you will need a computer, space for product development, and perhaps a place for exchanges with delivery personnel. Or you might decide to be a home-based consultant. You could meet clients via webcam or set up a space in your office area. Think through how your space can support your goals.
When you opt to work from home, establishing a home office to suit your lifestyle and work habits is an added boon. HomeAdvisor points out that you should view your home office as an investment rather than an indulgence, creating a space to help you work optimally. Consider installing a custom-built desk to keep you comfortable and performing your best. While you want to be comfortable, resist the urge to turn your bedroom or kitchen table into a makeshift office. Work belongs in the office so that the rest of your home is a place of relaxation. If you don’t have the luxury of an office space or spare room, find a quiet corner or nook of the house that you can claim as your own.
Make A Plan
Once you refine your vision so you know what goods or services you will offer, your next step is to develop a business plan. Your plan will be a vital tool if you apply for any loans, grants, or other funding, and it can also help you set goals and decide how to reach them. Ask yourself the following questions to help formulate a realistic, achievable, and professional plan:
- How big is my market, and who is my target audience?
- What needs do I intend to meet, and what current trends are influencing those needs?
- Who are my competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What advantages do I have over them?
- How do I intend to reach out to my customers?
- Where do I want to be with this venture in a year? And where do I want to be in five years?
- What action steps should I take to meet those goals?
- What funds do I have available, and how much do I need to reach my goals?
An organized plan helps in many ways. You’re organizing your thoughts, giving your business validity, and it helps stabilize your action plan. With an effective plan and steps to reach it, you can establish your business as a cornerstone in your local community as well as the marketplace. One suggestion is to take advantage of learning and networking opportunities so you can better reach your goals. Organizations which focus on people with disabilities offer numerous workshops and seminars to learn about business development and outreach. Explore available entrepreneurship resources to find out about events in your area. Take every opportunity to grow and maximize your potential.
Develop Your Clientele
Obviously, you need someone to purchase your goods or services. A key concept in successfully developing your customer base is knowing and understanding your clients and their needs. By personalizing what you offer, you can meet their needs in ways large corporations cannot. The better you understand your clients, the more effectively and efficiently you can meet those needs by anticipating demand when you see a new product, or implementing a new idea that fits a special niche.
Great customer service goes hand in hand with knowing your customers, and the two aspects will feed each other when done correctly. Communicating well with your customers and ensuring they are satisfied means they will provide word-of-mouth advertising to their friends and clients. And while it’s an old-fashioned concept, the reality is people do business with people they know. A friend’s recommendation creates trust over an unknown, so keep your existing customers happy to grow new customers.
Another way to grow your customer base is to partner with other companies offering complimentary services. For instance, perhaps you raise bees and make infused honey products. Partnering with a local tea room or a culinary gift shop could be a natural fit. Think about what you offer and what would make a great marriage, then propose your idea to the other professional.
In addition to what your clients are telling others about you, you should engage some marketing strategies to get the word out about your business. Social media is a popular networking tool, since you can share what you are working on with a simple click. Some businesses offer small weekly or monthly giveaways to keep customers paying attention, such as “Win on Wednesday” or “Mid-Month Madness.” Make it interactive so people have fun with it, select a random winner, and make sure you announce who it is since transparency is of increasing importance on social media. Create a short weekly email for customers who subscribe, and employ appropriate tech tools to simplify your efforts.
Traditional marketing is still functioning nicely for businesses as well, so don’t neglect your basics. Create flyers, discount coupons, and business cards and hand them out or slip them into mailings. Some customers will tack them onto their refrigerators or slide them into their wallets for future use. And of course a well-timed ad in your local newspaper or magazine could catch potential customers’ eyes. For instance, if you offer wedding-planning services, your ad should go in with the special bridal edition, or a lawn-care product might be best advertised in spring. Think through timing to get the best bang for your buck.
All new businesses have startup costs. Fortunately, people with disabilities can qualify for special loans and grants to help meet financial obligations and provide for future goals. You should reach out to individual lenders to explore the loans they offer, and Disability-World suggests a variety of government-based grant providers. Some are oriented toward new businesses, and some will better suit established businesses, so examine their criteria for the best fit in your situation. That business plan you worked hard at developing will come in handy when it’s time to apply for funding. Be prepared to explain what is special about your business and why you can expect to succeed.
You should explore local funding opportunities as well, as some community foundations, councils, and business-development organizations look to promote at a grassroots level. And of course, some state governments offer grants and funding of their own. Becoming a face in your community, whether your local community, business community, or other arena, can lead to business development in a variety of ways. Some local organizations fund projects, providing them the chance to invest in area talent and help other businesses to grow. Connect in your area and consider attending and participating in events. There is always a need for speakers at events; sharing your story can inspire others and lead to added opportunities.
Starting up a new business can be challenging, helping you stretch and grow as an individual. It’s also an opportunity to make the most of what you can offer, and create a situation to help you prosper. Put together your plan, develop your clientele, and promote your business effectively. With these smart strategies, you can pursue your new venture with confidence!
Guest post by Patrick Young. Patrick is the founder of Able USA, a resource page for people with a disability.