Maybe you come from an entrepreneurial family and the desire to start a company is in your blood! Or you haven’t much familiarization with start-ups, but you can’t shake the notion that starting a business is for you. You have a particular skill set that will meet the needs or desires of your community; you want to establish a company that will align with your interests and aptitudes; your potential start-up will support your work values and may give you the opportunity to employ others. Needless to say, your interest is piqued.
You’re in the phase of gathering information and insight. You’re educating yourself on company ownership, funding options, and business plans.
To assist, check out the following resources, many of which are specific to owning and operating a business as an individual who is blind or low vision.
- Independent Visually Impaired Entrepreneurs, an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, is a national organization for blind/ low vision business owners or those interested in entrepreneurship. The organization provides an audio newsletter sharing tips on business ownership and hosts an annual convention for networking, idea-sharing, and business-ownership education.
- The Business Enterprise Program, a federally authorized program provided by each state’s Vocational Rehabilitation program, prepares and licenses individuals who are blind or low vision to launch and manage a food service business such as a snack bar, cafeteria, gift shop, or vending stand.
- The Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship, developed by the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, provides courses on business skills; self-employment; starting, operating, and expanding a business, and networking. The courses are available without direct cost to the enrollee.
- The Best Funding Resources for Disabled Entrepreneurs, an Entrepreneur article, shares information on potential grants and small business loans for starting a business as an individual with a disability.
- General Information on the Plan to Achieve Self-Support, a Social Security article, provides information on PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) which enables approved individuals to use supplemental security income to fund a start-up.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration assists individuals in locating local small-business support such as low-cost training, mentorship, and business counseling.
Starting a business as a professional who is blind or low vision absolutely can be done. Let’s take a look at successful entrepreneurs who are blind or low vision.
- Take a peek at Hadley’s Business Directory, a directory of businesses owned and operated by blind or low vision individuals.
- The Scent of Small Business Success for Owners Who Are Visually Impaired shares Barry and Debra Carver’s story of seeking non-toxic bath and body products, learning to make their own, and turning the venture into a successful company.
- Maxwell Ivey: Entrepreneur on the Midway shares Maxwell Ivey’s story of growing up assisting his parents in the carnival industry. His knowledge base grew and he turned it into a successful business as a broker for amusement park rides.
- The Sweet Smell of Success for Blind Entrepreneur Gerry Leary shares Gerry Leary’s story of entrepreneurship. He earned money as a teen fixing his friends’ cars; he eventually rented space and started his own auto mechanic business for twenty years. Meanwhile, he perfected the art of coffee roasting; when he couldn’t find a position roasting coffee, he decided to create his own by starting a coffee roasting business, followed by a small café in Colorado where he and his team sell his coffee.
- Two Blind Brothers: A Company Seeking a Cure for Blindness in Children and Adults shares Bryan and Bradford Manning’s story of starting a designer shirt company, Two Blind Brothers, which has since expanded.
Now arm yourself with business know-how and mentorship, and keep us posted so we can highlight you as an entrepreneurial success story!