Practical Methods of Providing Support
As a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (SVRA) looks to enact an inclusive model of self-employment, some practical guidance may prove timely. While the list below is not a comprehensive list of considerations, a SVRA who has answers to these questions within their programming is at the very least thinking in the right direction.
Do staff understand how self-employment goals are different than traditional vocational goals?
Are specialists needed?
What training is available and/or required?
Does the SVRA have a way to obtain and interpret financial statements from clients and accountants to determine closure eligibility?
Does the SVRA have a mechanism in place to obtain data after closure, as required by WIOA performance measures?
How will the SVRA coordinate services with other self-employment programs, such as the Randolph-Sheppard Act vendor program, Veterans Benefits Administration, and other programs?
Does the SVRA have the ability to purchase the diversity of items and services a self-employed individual may require? Variable methods of purchasing methods may be required based upon the situation (cash, credit, purchase orders, etc.).
Evaluating the Business Idea
How well does the client need to understand what she is wanting to do?
Is there an opportunity for customized self-employment for those with the most significant disabilities?
Does the SVRA have a mechanism for determining the potential market of a business idea?
How will the SVRA determine if the market niche identified by the client is a viable business opportunity?
What evaluation and supports for adaptive technology are in place for the client’s disability that are specific to self-employment?
Does the SVRA have access to a home modification program that has commercial (non-residential) experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Does the SVRA have small business supports with the capacity to understand the functional limitations of the client and how to alter business operations to accommodate these limitations?
Funding the Venture
How much will the agency allocate towards a self-employment venture?
Does the client have cash reserves and/or access to funds for purchasing business items on their own, or will they rely mostly on the SVRA?
Will the SVRA require clients have self-employment training, management experience, or venture related experience prior to funding the business?
Will the agency have different requirements for clients seeking different funding amounts?
What are these requirements?
Has the agency compiled a list of comparable funding sources for self-employment opportunities that will grant, match, or loan capital for start-up expenses?
Have requirements been developed to identify approved start-up expenses needed to initiate operations versus long-term, ongoing funding needed for ongoing operations?
The Business Plan
Does the agency support assistance in writing a business plan?
Is there a standard business plan template that the agency wants completed?
Are there components within the plan specific enough in addressing possible business-related accommodations needed for success?
Will the plan need to be presented to a committee? Who would sit within this committee?
How will a determination be made as to whether the agency will fund the business plan?
Implementing the Plan
Does the SVRA have an established, working relationship with community accountants, payroll services, business legal experts, and other paid business supports?
How will the SVRA manage rental agreements, titles, and other legal ownership documents for business owners?
Will the SVRA work with wholesalers for the acquisition of goods for sale directly or through a third party?
How will the SVRA pay for those items?
Once a business has begun operating, what requirements are in place for the client in terms of reporting activities to the SVRA?
How has the agency put supports in place to ensure these expectations are meetable considering the complexities of business ownership?
Has the agency established supports for the client in paying taxes, processing payroll, and reporting income?
Has the SVRA a mechanism for evaluating the ongoing health of a small business venture it is funding?
Does the SVRA have established criteria for case closure, extended services, or re-opening cases in times of need that are specific to self-employment outcomes?
A SVRA who answers these questions in a comprehensive way will be on a path for a more equitable self-employment program.
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