by Ed Carter at Able Futures.
Statistics show that 61 million adults in the U.S. have a disability of some kind. If you are a disabled parent who is looking for a way to increase the income flowing into your household but find the high cost of childcare, the effects of your condition, and the lack of flexibility too prohibitive for traditional employment, you may have considered starting a business of your own. If this is the case, you’ll likely find these four tips helpful in getting your startup off the ground and running:
1. Funnel in Resources
According to research, the second most common reason for a business's collapse is lack of capital. Ensure you have the resources to fund your enterprise. There are numerous government grants, loans and programs that exist to aid disabled individuals like you in starting a business. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers services to help those with disabilities start new businesses, including government-backed financing if you don't qualify for a traditional loan, training for if you want to get your business certified as a government contractor, and special entrepreneurial support programs if you are a service-disabled veteran.
To ensure you make the best use of any funding, start by writing out a financial plan. Understand that at the start, you may need to live frugally for a while. Sacrifice or reduce luxuries like eating out so that you can funnel more money back into the project. Pay yourself only after profits start rolling in.
2. Develop a Brand
Branding is important for many reasons, including increasing visibility and making sure people know of your company's existence. Define your business, its purpose and the values you want it to stand for from the beginning. Think about the market you are catering to: What are the qualities people are looking for in your product or service and in your company? Ensure your logo and mission statement are unique and stand out from the crowd by researching potential competitors.
3. Invest in Marketing
Good marketing is essential to the growth of your startup: You cannot gain clients if they don’t know of your existence. Your marketing strategy should reflect your brand values, which will help you find your voice on social media platforms. Interact with interested individuals online and network with others within your industry.
Consider hiring a graphic design specialist to develop an aesthetically appealing, easy-to-navigate website that highlights your business's products or services, values and contact information. Write a blog to draw viewers to the site. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp are useful for offering incentives such as giveaways and discounts for referrals. Many business owners have had success with free trials that hook people and reel them in.
4. Create a DBA for Your Company
A "doing business as" name is the title your enterprise operates under, which may be different from the legal one assigned upon your founding it. Registering your doing business as name allows you to expand into new areas or lines under a DBA, preventing people who know your legal business name for certain services or goods from becoming confused. It is similar to how authors might use different pen names if they want to write in a genre other than the one they are established in.
It’s a fairly straightforward process to register this name or alias, though it can be time-consuming. An attorney can also help, though at a potentially great cost. Consider working with a formation service instead for ease and convenience, often at reasonable rates.
The key to getting your startup off the ground is to understand the fundamentals of running a business. Just as important is knowing that there are resources and programs out there to help you both as a parent with a disability and as an entrepreneur like any other.