Why focus on small businesses owners with disabilities?


The Rehabilitation Services Administration recently reported that that 20-30% of people with disabilities served by state vocational rehabilitation agencies would choose self-employment over wage employment if given the option.  Unfortunately, national statistics also indicate that less than 3% of state vocational rehabilitation case closures were successful small businesses.  Obviously, there is a demand for self-employment that is not currently being realized.  Venture Mentors was formed to help meet this demand in the marketplace. 


Is small business ownership really a viable option for people with disabilities?


Absolutely!  In fact, for some people, a small business may be the only solution that really makes sense.  In many cases, a small business can accommodate a person’s disability more readily than wage employment.  Self-employment can offer flexibility, independence, and freedom from common disability barriers.  In addition, a well run small business can provide a much greater return than wage employment while also creating equity for the owner.  Contrary to what you may have heard, a well planned and executed small business can be profitable within the first months of operation.


Doesn’t it cost too much to start a business?


The typical micro-enterprise requires an average of less than $5,000 to fund the start-up.   The amount will depend on the type and complexity of the business.  This is comparable to the cost of a supported wage placement.


Why is Venture Mentors necessary?  Can’t I get the services I need from governmental sources?


While supported employment techniques have proved to highly be successful in helping individuals with disabilities maintain wage employment, a completely different set of skills is needed to support profitable small business start-up and operations.  Venture Mentors provides the critical business supports and training to business owners with disabilities, much like job coaches would do in a supported employment program. 


Governmental programs such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) do provide valuable assistance to small business owners.  However, these programs often have little expertise in disability issues.  A recent University of Montana Rural Institute national survey indicated that 70% of SBDC personnel reported they had never worked with someone with disabilities.  An additional 52% reported they did not know what the State VR agency did. 


Venture Mentors does not replace the services provided by State VR agencies, other community rehabilitation programs, disability services programs or benefits counseling programs.  We work collaboratively with both the disability services community and the business community to maximize the benefits of self-employment for our customers.   


Business consulting sounds expensive.  How much do services cost?


Venture Mentors distinguishes itself in the marketplace by providing high quality services at affordable prices.  Our fee structures are set well below private sector market rates to accommodate our customers with disabilities.  In addition, our fees are generally paid by “third party” entities such as the state VR agency, Medicaid, or with grant funds provided through State development disability agencies, state mental health/mental retardation agencies or other governmental sources.  Our staff will work with you to plan the most affordable package of services and to identify payment options.  For more information go to Rates and Fees.


Where do I start?


If you are interested in self-employment or have been thinking about starting a business venture, the first step is a brief conversation with us about your business concept. This “proof of concept” consultation is free and helps us figure out which consulting services are necessary to achieve your goals.  Call or write today for more information.