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The Benefits of Supporting Young Entrepreneurs With Disabilities

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Engaging in self-employment has never been a more realistic option for individuals with disabilities. In part, it is due simply to the lack of employment options. Most people, however, are under the impression that you need to wait until the person (hereafter “the entrepreneur”) is an adult, or close to it, before you start exploring self-employment. On the contrary, we’ve found the earlier you start the more gratifying the experience will be. Here are a few reasons why:

Strong support network.

When the entrepreneur is young, you may have a better chance of having a strong support network for the self-employment venture through school, therapists, family, neighbors, peers etc.

More time for trial and error.

Starting young allows you more flexibility to try different things and make mistakes. Some individuals  enjoy doing a lot of different things but don’t really see the opportunity to make income. Starting young allows the entrepreneur the opportunity for meaningful exploration.

Expand skill sets.

So many skills can be learned or expanded through the self-employment process. It can improve skills such as problem solving, decision making, leadership, responsibility, communication, and so much more. The beautiful thing about self-employment is that it is not only about creating your own job. The process allows the entrepreneur to blossom in ways they may never have thought possible.

Sail through transition.

Families are often fraught with anxiety when their child is close to aging out of school. When you start working with the entrepreneur at a young age, you are able to seamlessly go through those transition years with confidence, peace of mind and most importantly, a sustainable plan for meaningful employment.

Boosts self-confidence.

In our opinion, this is by far the most rewarding. Unfortunately, in society children with disabilities are commonly subject to feedback focusing on what they need to improve and not praised for what they do well. Their ideas and interests may be discouraged because they are expected to be molded into what society views to be “normal.” What a difference we have seen when children have gotten a taste of being an entrepreneur. Their self-confidence soars!

From our viewpoint, exploring self-employment will only have positive benefits. Even if the entrepreneur decides to only be self-employed for a season in his or her lifetime, it can have an incredibly positive impact in his or her life experience.

For more information on starting the self-employment journey early, we recommend this Ted Talk by Cameron Herald: Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs. There are some great “aha!” moments.

Getty image by Dolgachov.

Originally published: April 8, 2018
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