Women with disabilities often face an uphill struggle. According to the United Nations, they experience inequality in promotions, rate of pay for equal work, and employment rates. It’s no surprise that feelings of frustration, anger, and despair are common. Starting your own business can offer a way out of the often unfair rat race.
We’re splitting this guide up into two actionable parts. The first is made up of advice, nuggets of information that will help towards making the dream happen. But instead of leaving you in the lurch without direction, we also include specific opportunities (i.e., concrete business ideas) that you can go after.
Foundations of Success
Before giving you specific roads you can take, we’ll start with what we think are the foundations of success. It doesn’t matter what you end up doing, whether it’s consulting, a brick and mortar, or an online business; this advice applies to all of the above.
Don’t Limit Your Options
Yes, being a woman isn’t always easy. And that’s especially true if you also have to face the world with a disability. But don’t think of yourself in those terms alone. You can operate in any sector. Remember that!
Get the Help You Need
Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t start your own business. Obviously. But some of us can be so fiercely independent (which is usually a good thing!) that we don’t get the help we need. Don’t be afraid of asking others to give you a hand. For some women, using disability start-ups to connect with others has provided opportunities to live independently, get a job, and start their very own successful businesses.
Governments know that women with a disability face unfair disadvantages. That’s why many countries offer specific grants that cater specifically to your needs. For example, Canada offers the generous Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities.
Work with Your Peers
The knee-jerk reaction to facing prejudice is becoming fiercely independent. While this can be an advantage, it can sometimes leave us alone. We recommend taking your journey with others, rather than you against the world affair.
For example, partner up with someone that has qualities you don’t. If your creative but impulsive, seek someone with a steady hand. If you suffer from health issues that put you out of action, hire someone to help you with the day-to-day (or use the gig economy when you’re starting out!).
You’ve read our advice; you’re fired up. But where do you go from there? Answer: here are some targeted ideas you can start working on today. It’s not all that’s out there, obviously, but it may just be what’s right for you.
Tim Ferris and his ideas on the 4-hour workweek have catapulted many from the rat race to the freedom of entrepreneurship. Online marketing is perhaps the route that best encapsulates this new way of living.
The most significant advantage of online marketing for women with a disability is clear: you can do it from home. It means you don’t have the arduous commute. You can also do things your way.
The thing we like about the online marketing community is that it’s the closest you’ll get to a meritocracy. If you have the chops, you’ll get work. It doesn’t matter what you look like, your gender, how old you are, the number of years under your belt, or what type of disability you have. People care about results. If you can add value to a company’s bottom line, you’ll make things happen.
You may be saying to yourself: online marketing sounds excellent. But how can I sell my services if I have absolutely no experience? While it’s possible, we admit it can be a little tricky.
It’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s not a business idea, but starting out as a virtual assistant (aka VA) can pave the way to a bunch of options. You don’t have to do it for long, and it offers several advantages:
- Cash Flow
When you start on your own, it’s hard to keep a steady flow of cash coming into your bank account. Being a virtual assistant will help stem that problem. You can even start your business while being a VA.
Starting a business in an arena, you have no experience it can be a recipe for failure. Being a VA can help give you the XP points you need to build a foundation for success.
The cool thing about being a VA is that no job is created equal. You can go in any direction you want, based on previous experience or your long-term goal. Here are some ideas:
- Social media Assistant
If you already spend all your time on Facebook or Instagram, this one is ideal. Post updates, retweet relevant content and help create buzz around a brand.
Handy with a (virtual) pen? Plenty of business owners can’t write worth a lick, so if you have a way with words becoming a blogger/ghostwriter is an excellent option.
- E-commerce assistant
If having your online store is a long-term goal, an e-commerce assistant can give you a personal look at a successful online business. The tasks can be menial, such as writing product descriptions and responding to inquiries, but the intel you’ll gain can be vital.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Check out sites like Upwork or Fiverr, get a profile up and running, and you’ll get your first job in a matter of hours (not always, but it’s a very realistic scenario).
As we wrap up this guide, we want to leave you with a final piece of advice: don’t give up. Entrepreneurship is difficult, no matter who you are. You’re going to feel like giving up at some point or another. Don’t. Give it everything you’ve got before downing tools; you can do it!