Engaging in self-employment has never been a more realistic option for individuals with disabilities. In part, it is due simply to the lack of employment options. Most people, however, are under the impression that you need to wait until the person (hereafter “the entrepreneur”) is an adult, or close to it, before you start exploring self-employment. On the contrary, the earlier you start the more gratifying the experience will be. Here are a few reasons why:
Strong support network. You have a better chance of having a strong support network for the self-employment venture through school, therapists, family, neighbors, peers, etc. when the entrepreneur is young.
More time for trial & error. Starting young allows you more flexibility to try different things and make mistakes. There are individuals who enjoy doing a lot of different things but don’t really see the opportunity to make income. Starting young allows the entrepreneur the opportunity for meaningful exploration.
Expand skillsets. There are so many skills that are learned or expanded through the self-employment process. It improves skills such as problem solving, decision making, leadership, responsibility, communication, and so much more. The beautiful thing about self-employment is that it is not only about creating your own job. The process allows the entrepreneur to blossom in ways you never thought possible.
Sail through transition. It’s common that families are fraught with anxiety when their child is close to aging out of school. When you start working with the entrepreneur at a young age you are able to seamlessly go through those transition years with confidence, peace of mind & most importantly, a sustainable plan for meaningful employment.
Boosts self-confidence. In our opinion, this is by far the most rewarding. Unfortunately, in society our children are commonly subject to feedback focusing on what they need to improve and not praised for what they do well. Their ideas and interests are usually discouraged because our children are expected to be molded into what society views to be “normal”. What a difference we have seen when children have gotten a taste of being an entrepreneur. Their self-confidence soars!
From our viewpoint there are only positive results that can be reaped when exploring self-employment. Even if the entrepreneur decides to only be self-employed for a season in his or her lifetime, it will have an incredibly positive impact in his or her life experience.
For more information on starting the self-employment journey early, we recommend this Ted Talk by Cameron Herald: Let’s Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs. There are some great “aha!” moments, I’m sure you can relate to.
By Picasso Einstein LLC, a self-employment education and consulting firm for individuals with developmental disabilities.