Mainstream employment may not always be a viable choice for a lot of people with a disability. In times past, the Australian Disabiltiy Enterprise (ADE), formerly known as sheltered workshops, have provided employment for people with moderate to severe disabilities, however this work can often be seen as menial and may not be paid at the award wage. One concept that is starting to gain popularity is the mirco-enterpise, where a person with a disability sets up their own business to provide a valuable service to their community.
The process for setting up a micro-enterprise takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, much like any small business. It begins by getting to know the person with a disability (participant) who is potentially interested in, and suitable for, setting up a micro-enterprise through a series of interviews and visits. This gives a great insight into the interests, skills, strengths and abilities of a participant, which forms the basis of any business ideas that are investigated and possibly implemented.
Once a business idea has been formed, it is then battle tested in the open market to ensure there enough demand to create a business that can sustain the desired lifetyle of the participant. Successful ideas can then be taken and turned into a complete business plan, which will serve as the blueprint for the new micro-enterpise as it is built. The business plan is a key part in this process as it covers the strategic and operational aspects of the business, such as marketing, sales, finance and legalities.
At the end of the day, setting up a small business can be quite demanding, however it does offer a very high level of flexibility that you wouldn’t normally see in other workplaces. While setting up a business can be overwhelming at the best of times, there is a lot of support available (which is a whole new post), especially for participants on the NDIS. For the right person, running their own business could be a very rewarding way to achieve a lifetyle that might not otherwise be available.