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Starting your own business as young disabled person

Working for yourself can be rewarding and challenging. There are lots of organisations and free online resources that can help you turn your idea into a business.

Research your idea

You need to find out if your idea will work as a business. To do this, you want to understand:

  • your target customer and if they will want to buy your product or service
  • how the market looks, for example if there are lots of other people doing similar things
  • how much you’ll be able to charge

There are many ways you can research, depending on the product or service you want to offer. You can:

  • look at similar businesses online
  • join Facebook groups where people have similar interests, products or services
  • ask questions on forums for start-ups and entrepreneurs
  • connect with people doing similar things on LinkedIn
  • attend free networking events in your area or online
  • watch videos of entrepreneurs talking about how they began

How to research your idea (Entrepreneur Handbook)

For example, you want to sell handmade jewellery online.

Start by searching for handmade jewellery in your area. You could then look at platforms like Instagram, Etsy and Not On The High Street to see how well other jewellery sellers are doing.

You could look at:

  • how they engage with their audience
  • how many sales on Etsy they’ve made since opening
  • what type of products sell best
  • how they photograph and describe their products
  • how much they charge for postage

Write a business plan

Writing a business plan can help you:

  • clarify what you want to achieve
  • pitch your idea to others for support or funding

It can be as simple as writing your ideas down, explaining:

  • why you want to start a business
  • what your product or service is
  • where you will market it
  • who your customers will be
  • how you’ll build and fund the business

Download a business plan template (The Prince’s Trust)

Check if the business name you want is available (Companies House)

There are different ways of running a business too, including:

  • being a sole trader (self-employed), where you keep your profits after you’ve paid tax
  • setting up a partnership with another person
  • setting up a Community Interest Company (CIC) that has social, charitable or community goals
  • setting up a limited company, which is private and any money you put into it is protected

Trying self-employment

Setting up a business (GOV.UK)

You may also want to think about protecting your work from others copying it. This is called trademarking and copyrighting.

How copyright protects your work (GOV.UK)

Business and Intellectual Property Centre (British Library)

Think about money

Most people need money to start a business. You may be able to get money through:

  • an investment or loan from family or friends
  • applying for a new business or start-up grant
  • applying for a business loan through a bank
  • asking people to fund your idea in return for profit or a reward (crowdfunding)

The benefits of crowdfunding (Indiegogo)

See if you’re eligible for a business loan (British Business Bank)

Before borrowing money from someone you know or a bank, find out:

  • if you’ll have to pay interest
  • how long you have to pay it back
  • any other terms of your contract

You may be eligible for the New Enterprise Allowance and practical support if you’re over 18 and either:

  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • you get Income Support and you’re disabled, sick or a lone parent

New Enterprise Allowance (GOV.UK)

Free business support

Some organisations offer free support to people setting up a business. This can include business planning, mentoring, training and co-working spaces. These are sometimes called business incubators or accelerator programmes.

What is a business incubator? (British Business Bank)

You can apply for free business support for young people through:

Sign up for free courses, webinars, workshops and talks. The more you attend, the more you’ll learn. This can also be a good way to connect with people.

Find online events (Eventbrite)

Browse free business courses (Google Digital Garage)

Develop your digital skills for free (Good Things Foundation)

Get a mentor

A mentor is someone who supports you and your business. They may have had lots of experience running a business and be able to give you advice.

You could try getting a mentor through a local start-up network, contacting someone you admire on social media or through a mentor scheme. You may need to contact several people to find someone so keep trying!

If you’re at college or university, see what business and mentoring support is available. Ask your tutors or search for things like:

  • business centres
  • business incubators
  • enterprise centres
  • innovation hubs

How to find a mentor (Virgin Startup)

Test your idea

Testing your product or service can be a great way to see how it will work and what people think of it. Test with your friends or family first. Ask them to be honest as well as encouraging.

When you are ready, trial your service, perhaps at a networking or trade event.

You could try selling your products at a local market or on social media. Ask people for their first impressions and any feedback. Remember you can learn from negative feedback to improve your products or service.

Check that you’re ready

Running a business can mean working long hours. Some people feel lonely working for themselves. But many entrepreneurs say that starting a business is the best thing they’ve ever done.

You may want to ask yourself:

  • Am I ready?
  • Am I passionate about this idea?
  • Do I feel motivated to take it forward?
  • How will I deal with negative feedback?
  • Who can I talk to if I have problems or need some emotional support?

How to deal with negative feedback (Virgin Startup)

Getting free financial help and information (Money Advice Service)

Putting your idea out into the world can be challenging and rewarding. But the internet and social media has made it easier than ever to market your offer and connect with customers. And there is lots of help available if you ask.

Interview with freelance actor and comedian Alex Brooker (Disability Horizons)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 08/01/2021

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