From Mark Adreon – Program and Partnership Development specialist, Washington Department of Services for the Blind and upcoming mentor for Startup Weekend Access.
Starting your own business or becoming self-employed is a goal or, for some, a dream that circumstance or natural inclination dictates. The idea of owning your own “start up” or small business has many alluring facets and personal measures of success. For people with disabilities, this dream or natural inclination is the same as for those without disabilities. The challenge has always been having others take the person with a disability seriously. Some of the critical elements of building a business; funding, attracting collaborators, building trust or faith in “just an idea”, and establishing a team to move the idea into production has proven daunting for many Entrepreneurs with disabilities.
For many people the idea of owning and operating their own business is the only pathway to self-sufficiency and independence that is realistic for them to pursue.
For the disabled communities, business ownership is not only an economic engine that drives a bigger economy, but it also drives ideas and opportunity to others in the disabled community that have had a lifetime of people telling them what they cannot do. The opportunity of Entrepreneurship sets the “sky as the limit: and provides the vehicle for anyone to take their talents and skills to drive toward success. And in fact, provides a pathway to self-accomplishment and establishes positive role models for other Entrepreneurs that happen to be disabled.
There is tremendous value in expanding the “Start Up Weekends” to full inclusion and broadening the product ideas to include tangible services or goods; assist with full inclusion for Entrepreneurs with disabilities. At DSB, a vocational rehabilitation agency in Washington State, we feel that self-employment is not only a viable option for people that are blind but in some cases, the only option. We see Entrepreneurship as a pathway to independence and economic self-sufficiency. We are actively engaged in finding people that have the characteristics of Entrepreneurship, the motivation and discipline to start a business and the drive to make it successful. We work with other community partners to ensure that resources are available to take an idea into reality.
We are very excited to join with the Start Up Weekend organization and develop an opportunity for all Entrepreneurs to explore the possibilities of business ownership.
When opening the doors of opportunity, they need to be wide enough for all to walk through. With universal access, all Entrepreneurs are able to participate in developing and building the world economy of the future.