What is Self-employment

The success rate of small business is surprisingly high, despite widely accepted folklore to the contrary. Self-employment and small business are a defining characteristic of Canada’s economic landscape, and present a tremendous opportunity for those most challenged by the competitive labor market.

Self-employment is increasingly recognized as a viable employment option for people with disabilities. Self-employment for individuals with disabilities involves minimizing the fears of the prospective business owner, as well as the rehabilitation and local small business development professionals who assist them. A person does not need to "get ready" to own a business, if a customized approach is used. In supported self-employment, the focus is on the talents and interests of the individual and identifying personal assets. Self-employment uses a strength-based, not deficit-based outlook.

A person who has all the necessary skills to own and operate a business may be a rare entrepreneur! What is important is to identify each individual's strengths and talents as well as support needs while assembling a team to facilitate self-employment. Supported self-employment is all about customized supports. The basics are a viability assessment, business plan, a solid marketing plan, management skills, and capital. Where the entrepreneur can lead the way and where support is needed will vary from one person to another and from one situation to another. Some individuals may need more assistance with start-up activities; others may need support with operations; still others may need ongoing assistance using a variety of workplace supports. What is crucial is to provide customized supports to assist the person in moving forward with business ownership.