How to get a small business up and running as a parent with a disability

According to the Centre for Applied Disability Research, people in Australia with disabilities have a 13 percent rate of entrepreneurship, a higher figure than employed people without disabilities. This reflects findings in similar countries like the US and UK, where people with disabilities are turning to entrepreneurship as an alternative to traditional employment.


There are many reasons why starting a small business is a great idea for someone with a disability, especially a parent. You have the option of working from home, where you can be with your children. You don’t have to answer to anyone in terms of your schedule or how much time you need to take for your health. Perhaps most importantly, you have the flexibility to design a career and an environment that is perfectly suited to your life.


However, Australia’s low employment participation rate for people with disabilities show that there is still a ways to go. Many challenges face parents with disabilities on the road to entrepreneurship, but below are just a few simple ways in which you can get the ball rolling.


Look at Alternative Investment Schemes


Traditional loans and investment schemes present many barriers for people with disabilities, but alternative options are available. Things like peer-to-peer lending make funding easier and more accessible to everyone and can be a great way to get an initial investment for a small business.


Alternatively, there are various government grants available for entrepreneurs. Most of these are not specific to those with disabilities, but they are still a potentially useful resource if you are looking to set up a business. Finder has compiled a great guide to the best government grants and how to go about applying to them.


Get Transport


If you can drive, invest in a good vehicle if you are going to be a self-employed parent. If you are selling physical goods, you will want a car, van, or truck to transport them, and you may also need to drive people (or children) around in your day-to-day. Check for good deals on second-hand cars on Gumtree to find the perfect vehicle for your business needs.


Be Online


Nowadays, any small business worth its salt needs to have a solid online presence. This means a well-designed website, as well as social media channels. While you can pay someone to set these up and even manage them for you, it’s not too difficult to do on your own. Beautiful websites can easily be created with simple drag-and-drop interfaces, and social media channels can be linked for optimal sharing across the board.


When you create your website, make sure it is accessible. As someone with a disability, you will understand the frustrations of non-accessible web design, so set a good example by taking time to ensure your website can be used by everyone. Dreamhost has some great tips for doing this.


Create a Great Home Office


Over half of small businesses are run from someone’s home, and it is easy to see why. As well as saving on rent, working from home is especially convenient for parents with disabilities who require an environment tailored to their needs.


That said, it is not enough to simply put a desk in a corner of your living room. A home office should be a separate space within your house, ready for everything you may need to do great work. Check out these tips for a productive home office, from comfortable seating to lighting.


Do not be scared of entrepreneurship because you have a disability. Running a small business can be the perfect employment solution for someone who requires flexibility, independence, and a tailored environment, so it is worth taking that leap and persevering. Remember that you are not alone: there are plenty of resources and help available online, and your friends and family will be happy to support you in any way you need as you start your self-employment journey.


Thanks to Patrick Young and  for this contribution.