Starting a small business is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding undertakings anyone can pursue. For people with disabilities, jumping into the world of small business ownership can be even more difficult, but there are several organizations and options designed to help disabled small business owners get started and thrive. Specific loans and grants in conjunction with mentoring programs help people with disabilities become their own boss and keep their small businesses running.
1. Find Available Grants
People with disabilities who are new to small business ownership may find that they need financial assistance. Grants are an ideal option for people with disabilities because they do not need to be paid back like loans. The federal government, certain state governments, and private organizations and foundations offer grants to people with disabilities who meet certain criteria. It’s important to note that grants typically are awarded to disabled people who have already started their small businesses rather than to people who are starting a business from scratch.
Many small business owners with disabilities look to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) for grants and financial assistance. It’s also a good idea to search the databases at grants.gov, HHS.gov, and FedBizOpps.gov. GrantWatch.com is another valuable online resource for finding grants; it is a comprehensive database that lists available grants for small businesses and individuals with disabilities.
2. Take Advantage of Financial Help Offered by Local Private and Government Resources
As many cities and regions around the United States look to build their economies and promote local businesses, they make private and government resources available to new business owners. Orange County, California, is one particular area of the country that is working hard to promote new business ownership. As such, the Orange County Business Council, LocationOC, SCOREOC, and the Orange County Small Business Development Center aid startup businesses in the area by serving the needs of investors and new business owners alike. If you are a person with disabilities looking to start a new business in Orange County, you will find several initiatives designed to help green startups.
3. Get Loans Designed for Disabled Business Owners
Once you start looking in the right places, you will find there is a range of loans available for people with disabilities who want to start a business. While these loans do need to be repaid, unlike grants, they often carry a much lower interest rate than traditional loans for small business owners. Accion, a nonprofit, community organization helps disabled small business owners become successful by offering fairly priced, flexible loans. Accion loans range from $300 - $1,000,000, with the average loan amount being $10,000.
Kaleidoscope Investments is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs with disabilities run and grow their own businesses by providing ongoing help, expertise, and investment. Rather than charge upfront fees, Kaleidoscope Investments takes a small, negotiable equity stake in your new business. People with disabilities often turn to KI because they have a philosophy of No Barriers to Business.
4. Find a Mentor
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of free, expert business mentors. They believe in fostering vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education, and they believe that every person should have the support he needs to thrive as a small business owner. People with disabilities can rely on SCORE to find a business person who is ready and willing to help them find solutions to their business challenges; SCORE mentors share their knowledge, wisdom, and experience with new business owners. SCORE also has a record of success in helping veterans with disabilities become small business owners.
People with disabilities can start and grow successful businesses if they have the right funding and mentors. Grants, local resources, specialized loans and investments, and mentoring programs are important pieces of the puzzle for people with disabilities who want to take the plunge into business ownership.
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