Starting a business: advice for people with a disability

Support for disabled entrepreneurs


For many disabled people, starting a business is a great way to achieve more independence and to realise your full potential. Being your own boss gives you flexibility and the freedom to choose your own hours and working conditions.

After developing a business plan - and a marketing plan if appropriate - the next step is to research your market and seek advice from those with experience. See market research and market reports.

Understanding where you can get money and support at the earliest stage will help you develop your ideas. See business financing options - an overview.

Any new business will find the start-up process and the first few months of trading particularly challenging. For further guidance see:

Support is available to help you with the stages leading up to starting a new business and can even continue once you have set up your business. Support in Northern Ireland includes:

1. Enterprise Agencies

Enterprise Agency advisers are trained to help people with disabilities and can identify appropriate sources of expertise and additional support. Enterprise Northern Ireland provide a list of local enterprise agencies.

When meeting a business adviser, you may want to think about the following:

  • Why do you want to start a business?
  • What is your business idea?
  • What extra resources and support might you need as a disabled person running your own business?

2. Disability employment support and programmes

nidirect provides employment support information and offers assistance with training and finding work, including self-employment. Employment Service Advisers are based in your local Jobs and Benefit Office or Job Centre.

They can advise on support specifically for disabled people and link into support provided by the Department for Communities Health and Work support services.

3. Disability organisations

Disability organisations also offer support to people with specific disabilities which may be helpful in considering self-employment. Your local Employment Service Advisers in your local Jobs and Benefit Office or Job Centre will be able to direct you to your local disability organisation. Alternatively, you can contact the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment (NIUSE).

Links to disability organisations to monitor for support opportunities are included in business networks and support for disabled entrepreneurs.

From time to time, specialist agencies or disability sector organisations run workshops, training, or events aimed at the disabled business community and disabled people interested in self-employment.

You may also consider approaching more general support organisations such as: