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Whether your diagnosis has started you thinking about starting your own business, or it's a thought that's been in the works for some time, don't let your health condition keep you from considering this option. The key is whether you're physically and mentally up to it and whether you are a good candidate for starting a business.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, consider the following subjects, each of which are covered in other sections of this article:

If you are disabled, there are services available to help you start a business.

If you think as if your financial life is on the line, you will have incentive to keep your focus on the business and to constantly reevaluate the situation looking for ways to do things better.

NOTE: There are government training programs to help learn new skills and programs to educate people about how to start a business. To find out about the programs in your area, contact your local employment agency or visit the Labor Department's Web site:  offsite link Click on "Training" for a list of state-run programs.  When you find a program: check eligibility to see if you qualify.  

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Work: Becoming Self Employed

Am I A Good Candidate For Starting A Business?

Realistically assess your ability to work for yourself. Consider the following:

  • How do I deal with risk?
  • Am I a self starter?
  • Am I motivated?
  • Am I capable of making critical decisions on my own?
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run my own business?
  • How will operating a business affect my health?
  • Am I willing to devote the kind of time and energy necessary to start a business? It's often said that starting a new business will "take over your life."
  • Am I well organized?
  • How will operating a small business affect my finances?

If you still have a question after answering these questions, consider seeking advice from outside sources as to whether or not you would be a good candidate for starting a business. Look for people who have a good sense of what's involved in starting and running your own business and who will give you an honest assessment of your traits and of the prospects of the business you are considering.

In the end, you are the one making the decision. It should be a decision with which you are comfortable.

Determine The Type Of Business You Wish To Operate

Your choice should reflect a business in which you are skilled and extremely interested. For example, it is probably not a good idea to consider opening a bakery if you have no idea how to bake.

On the other hand, if baking is your passion and one of your strong points, you shouldn’t be held back just because you have no prior experience or skills in retail. Those can be learned.

The U.S. Small Business Association has information as well as thousands of links to information and resources for all aspects of creating a small business. Take a look at their site at offsite link.

Do Your Research

Before you look for financing, do your homework. Be familiar with the following issues that you will be asked about:

  • Your market, including the size and the people who make up the market.
  • The cost of starting your business, including reserves to give you time for it to take hold.
  • The cost of operating your business.
  • Your potential for profit.
  • The locale of your business including present factors and future projections for the area. For example, is it a high traffic area including customers you anticipate attracting? Is your business going to be located in an area that is scheduled for renewal or is it in a neighborhood that is experiencing decay?)
  • Competition, including local and national competition. Consider current or potential competition from the internet.
  • The people who will provide the skill sets necessary to start, operate and grow your business.
  • Sources of financing that you may have available on your own or through family members, friends or business associates.

If possible, test a business idea before making a serious commitment.

Create A Business Plan

Even if you intend to keep the business small, a business plan will help you:

  • Define your business precisely.
  • Decide how to allocate limited resources.
  • Handle problems.
  • Make decisions.
  • Will serve as your most important tool when raising money.

Creating a business plan forces you to think through both the big picture and what you wish to accomplish, as well as the details of how the business will operate. Many a new business failure could have been prevented if the organizer had taken the time to work through questions raised when creating a business plan.

A business plan should include:

  • A description of the business you propose.
  • The need for the business.
  • The size of the potential market.
  • Competition in the market.
  • Brief biographies of the people who will be important to the business.
  • The cost for creating the business. (Include a reserve to see you over the start-up period until the business has a chance to catch on.)
  • A current balance sheet as well as one that reflects what you expect to happen in the future.
  • An income statement.
  • A cash flow analysis.
  • The type of legal structure you will use.
  • How you plan to market the business. (Consider hiring a publicist to get you free attention in articles and news programs that people pay attention to).

You can view sample business plans, complete with advice on how to create one, at the government's Small Business Association site at: offsite link.

Determine How Much Money You Will Need To Get Started

Factor in how to cover costs of running the business for at least a year. Include the costs of any office or store space, equipment, and cash on hand to cover operating expenses - including money to repay any loans you may take out.

Think about your ongoing personal expenses and how you will pay for them while waiting for the business to generate an income. Include a reasoned guess about how much you will need to cover your health condition. Add at least six months, and preferably twelve months, to the date you expect the income to start "just in case."

If you expect to hire employees, consider giving them an ownership interest in the business. Top people are often willing to work for less money if they are offered a piece of the company. People also tend to work harder when they expect a share in the success. (If you go this route, put the arrangement in writing and at least include what happens if ithe arrangement between the two of you doesn't work out).

An accountant can help you determine your cash flow needs.

Determine How You Will Finance Your Business

Options for financing a business include :

Use your own funds

  • Using your own money shows that you are serious, while giving other potential investors confidence.
  • More than one business has been started by maximizing debt on credit cards. If you use credit cards to start the business:
    • Try to get credit life insurance on the card, and hopefully even credit disability coverage. The life insurance will pay off the debt in case you die. The disability coverage will postpone payment if you become disabled.
    • Be careful not to overextend yourself.
    • Think about what would happen if the business fails and you're stuck with the credit card debt.

Friends and family

  • Consider all family members, partners, friends and acquaintances as potential investors in your venture.
  • Money advisors suggest that you do not ask people to invest who cannot afford to lose all the money.

Commercial finance companies

Venture capital firms

Local development companies

  • The federal government funds Community Development Financial Institutions ("CDFI"). To find a certified CDFI institution in your area, call: 202. 653.0421 
  • If you deal with any of these companies, in addition to understanding the arrangement, watch for the details in the fine print.

Small Business Administration Loan


  • Banks cannot ask about your health condition when considering whether to give you a loan. 
  • You are under no obligation to disclose your health condition.

Credit Unions

Veterans Assitance

  • Assistance is available for veterans. For information, see: offsite link

Should You Disclose Your Health Condition To Investors/Lenders?

You are under no obligation to tell anyone about your health condition unless it could be harmful to them.

However, consider disclosing your condition to people or companies you approach to support your new venture.

Investors and Lenders

Consider whether your health condition is material to the potential success of the new business. If it is, it has to be disclosed. It could possibly even be a crime if you don’t.

Whether you health condition material has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Consult an attorney about your particular situation if there is the least question.

If it helps, banks cannot consider your health condition when considering whether to lend you money.

Friends and Family

Even if your health condition is not material to the potential success of the new business, consider disclosing it to friends and family that you ask for money. How would you feel if a friend or family member not only didn’t tell you about the diagnosis, but also asked you for money for a new business?

Consider Health Insurance And Other Benefits

Health insurance is still the best means of assuring access to the health care system. Given your health history, having health insurance is particularly important.

Consider how you will be able to maintain your current insurance or to obtain it through the business.

Determine Which Experts Will Be A Part Of Your Team

Perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make is identifying professionals to assist in areas where you lack expertise -- such as accounting, tax, legal, insurance and perhaps marketing. Look for professionals who work with small businesses, that are compatible with your needs, and that have a business philosophy similar to yours.

If you don't have cash, be creative. For example, barter your services, or offer a professional a seat on your board of directors and a small percentage of your company in return for services.

Think About What You Want To Happen If You Become Sick, Either For A Short Or Longer Period Of Time

  • Who can take over? Is the person prepared?
  • Have you made arrangements so someone else can sign checks? Borrow money? Sign contracts?
  • Who needs to know what, and who doesn't?
  • What do you want people to be told?

Consider Leasing Yourself To Your Business

It is possible to arrange with another company to hire and pay your employees – including yourself. The company then leases the employees to your new business.

The advantage of this type of arrangement is you will be eligible for group health and other benefits that the company offers. In addition, all the payroll details will be handled by someone else while you focus on building the business.

There Is A Lot Of Free Help Available To Start A New Business

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a division of the US Dept. of Labor, the SBA provides classes, information and thousands of links to help you find information about starting your own business.

Contact the Small Business Association at 800.UASK.SBA, or visit: offsite link.

The Small Business Self-Employment Service of the President’s Committee on Employing People with Disabilities has additional resources and links at offsite link.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth, and success of small businesses nationwide. Among other offerings, SCORE provides free e-mail counseling to people setting up their own business. Their website is located at: offsite link.

The U.S. Business Advisor is a government website designed to provide businesses with one-stop access to all federal government information, services, and transactions. The site is located at: offsite link.

SOHO (Small Office Home Office) is an internet community that brings together small business owners and provides resources, including information on obtaining health insurance. Their site is located at: offsite link.

The American Small Business Association provides information and benefits to members, including purchasing discounts and insurance products. Their site is: offsite link

If You Have A Disability And Are Considering Starting Your Own Business

Contact the President’s Committee’s new Small Business Self-Employment Service (SBSES) for information. The SBSES Web site, offsite link, includes links to other entrepreneurship sites, including state vocational rehabilitation programs. It also provides information on a variety of other technical assistance resources for writing business plans, financing, and other issues specific to developing a small business.

Consider How The Business Will Affect Your Family, Spouse, Partner

  • Does the family depend on you economically? If so, how will it cope while you get the business off the ground.
  • How will your family cope with your being focused on, and distracted by, your new business?
  • Will the family help? If so, will they expect to be paid for their services?
  • What will happen to the family's health insurance?