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Get REAL: Self-Employment

March 25, 2010

Cary Griffin

Welcome to Real Economic Impact’s Get REAL (Reliable Experts, Answers & Lessons) series: reliable advice re: your economic concerns from leading money, legal, and financial experts from around the country.

This week’s Get REAL expert’s are Cary Griffin & Dave Hammis, Senior Partners at Griffin – Hammis Associates, LLC, a full service consultancy specializing in building communities of economic cooperation, creating high performance organizations, and focusing on disability and employment.

Q: Why is it important for individuals with disabilities, parents and family members, teachers, support coordinators, and rehabilitation counselors to know more about self-employment?

A: A person’s disability should not determine his or her fitness for self-employment. Owning a business can be one of the least stigmatizing forms of employment for individuals with significant disabilities because the opportunity to gently rely on ongoing or time-limited rehabilitation services coexists with typically purchased business supports. Certainly, self-employment is not for everyone. It’s a personal choice that should be balanced by a variety of life circumstances, including financial position and funding, availability and quality of business and personal supports, and the viability of the business idea. In some cases, allowing the person to experiment with different career options is the greatest support available.

Dave Hammis

Moreover, there appear to be certain indicators of success probability in self-employment. For instance, many small business owners learned their trade and understand the market because they worked for someone else first. Still, because so many people with disabilities never get the chance to begin with a typical job, self-employment presents a unique opportunity to create an employment circumstance specifically tailored to their personal situation, degree of mobility, speed of production, stamina, health, and accommodation needs. Again, a person’s disability should not determine his or her fitness for self-employment. Rather, each situation is assessed to point out the need for supports—such as financing, skills training in specific tasks, and tooling and/or assistive technology—in the same manner that any entrepreneur requires supports in areas of need, in order to make it work. Typical business owners outsource accounting, marketing, subcomponent manufacturing, and other functions that they either cannot handle themselves or do not enjoy.

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