Risks and Benefits of Entrepreneurship
For persons with disabilities, self-employment provides a viable work option. It provides an opportunity to put talents and interests to work.Risks
An entrepreneur must be a risk-taker. However, risk-taking should not be taken lightly and/or viewed in a careless, cavalier manner. Instead, risks should be pre-determined and identified in the business plan. A plan of action to address these risks should be developed. Risks tend to fall in the following areas:
Without a solid management plan, your business will be at risk. Your business's capacity to raise capital, secure contracts, work with financial systems, and make wise management decisions are all important considerations of owning the business. Proper management will minimize other risks that might present themselves.
Financial risk is a major consideration for any entrepreneur. Many people with disabilities must consider their disability as a financial risk. Business income might reduce a disability pension or the benefits of an income support program.
While there will be a certain amount of unpredictability in running the business, the entrepreneur must also learn to understand and deal with the typical business cycle.
Until the business is well-established with a steady (or fairly steady) cash flow, the entrepreneur must be prepared for the possibility of having to borrow money from family or friends to get through those shaky financial periods. Many entrepreneurs experience an irregular income even when their business is well-established. Often peak periods will compensate for the down periods. An entrepreneur must, therefore, be skilled at handling the finances.
Prepare to be the "chief cook and bottle washer" when establishing your business. Also be prepared to work long hours.
Many entrepreneurs have a tendency to "grab all the work while it's there" and go through periods of working themselves to exhaustion. During these times it is often wise to hire assistance if the finances will cover the expense without significantly affecting your profits. It is important to remember that if your health is affected, the health of your business will also be affected. You must take time out for yourself! Benefits
Many entrepreneurs with disabilities will identify the following four benefits of self-employment:
- A feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment
- An opportunity to demonstrate abilities
- Serving a purpose; addressing a need
One of the main benefits of self-employment is autonomy and self-direction. As the success of the business increases, so does the owner's sense of achievement.
Often a disability is not seen as a liability but as a catalyst in starting the business. The disability is often the source of the idea behind the product or service. First-hand experiences often lead to great ideas and the identification of gaps in services and industries.
It is essential that an entrepreneur have a passion for the work he or she does. Rather than just enjoying the work, the entrepreneur must have a love and a need to do the work. This passion will help the entrepreneur persevere and get through the bumpy times.
Source of the above information: Control your Destiny, a booklet produced by the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres (CAILC) in partnership with the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN), Canada.