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Do People With Disability in Australia Start Businesses? This article looks at how common entrepreneurs with disability are, their motivations for starting a business and what barriers stand in their way.
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Nicholas Ayudar Co-FounderView Bio

The answer to this article's title is yes! People with disability do become entrepreneurs and they do it more often than you might think.

Employed People With Disability Are More Entrepreneurial Than Their Without Disability Counterparts.

According to a 2020 report published by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) , 13% of employed people with disability are self-employed compared to 10% for people without disability. Just over half of all people with disability are employed, so there is a lot of entrepreneurs out there.

Statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics back up UTS's claims. Of employed people with disability, 11.6% were running their own business. For people without a disability, 8.8% were found to be running their own business. That means employed individuals with disability were more than 27% more likely to be an entrepreneur.

New Ideas And New Journeys New Ideas And New Journeys

A 2016 journal article from the Australian Journal of Career Development also stated from their research that

. . . when faced with a disability, Australians will engage in self-employment, and when given opportunities for creating a new business they achieve high rates of success.

Adversity Can Make People With Disability More Suited To Entrepreneurship.

We have now established that people with disability start more businesses and can achieve higher rates of success with the right opportunities. Why is this happening? The answer might be, according to the UTS report, employer discrimination.

Employer discrimination may be having two effects. Firstly, people with disability have reported that there is a lack of opportunity for them to be employed in meaningful work. They also reported a lack of recognition of their qualifications resulting in them being over skilled for the jobs they can get. This discrimination has led to some participants feeling like they had no choice but to start their own business.

The second effect, is that the experience of being discriminated against may indirectly improve some of the characteristics essential to entrepreneurship. Most notably, the entrepreneurial skills of tackling challenges, determination, persistence and increased appetite for risk. Adversity might be making people with disability more suited to starting their own business than their without disability counterparts.

Determination Determination

Motivations and Barriers for Becoming Entrepreneurs.

Let's now look some of the motivations a person with disability might have for setting up and running a business and then some of the barriers they are met with.

The UTS study listed out the top ten most motivating factors for becoming entrepreneurs:

  1. Help others.

  2. Be my own boss.

  3. Flexible work life balance.

  4. Work on new skills.

  5. Apply creative talents.

  6. Financial success.

  7. Test and prove myself.

  8. Realise my dream.

  9. Solve a problem I was experiencing.

  10. Meet people.

Help Others Help Others

Interestingly, financial success weighs lower on the list than what might be expected from a person without disability. This could lead to more genuine, ethical and sustainable businesses than people just searching for the next get rich scheme.

The UTS study listed in their key findings the following 10 major barriers a person with disability has when setting up and running a business:

  1. Financial constraints.

  2. Uncertainty about the future.

  3. Lack of capital.

  4. Financial dependents.

  5. Physical access to spaces and places.

  6. Lack of confidence.

  7. Transport Barriers.

  8. Government compliance.

  9. Access or cost of providing own assistive technologies.

  10. No one to get help from.

Respondents in the UTS study, also outlined how they overcome these barriers. Here are the top ten:

  1. I can see opportunities for my new business.

  2. Being in contact with people with positive attitudes towards disability.

  3. Social and family support.

  4. Access to mentors.

  5. I can see opportunities for entrepreneurship education.

  6. I am financially independent.

  7. Attending a start-up, innovation, entrepreneurship program or course.

  8. Commercial or legal infrastructure that supports me.

  9. Previous experience starting an enterprise.

  10. I am single.

The most important thing from my experience in creating a successful business is actually starting it. Then not quitting. You can learn most things with time if you don't give up.

Do you have a business idea? We can help you make it happen. Get in touch below. You might also be interested in our NDIS funding to Start a Business Guide .

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