Meet the SME owners overcoming the challenges of having a disability by running a small business from home.
Running a business from home is popular with entrepreneurs, for reasons such as convenience, cost savings and flexibility. For those who are affected by health issues and disabilities, a home setting can also provide the freedom and flexibility they need to run a successful business.
For some, it is their determination to overcome the challenges that accompany disability that fuels their desire to run their own business, and the familiarity of a home office that helps facilitate it.
Paul Nicol, 35, is the founder of iCAN Experiences, a home-based business that specializes in providing gift experience activities and days out for people with a range of disabilities. The idea for the business was prompted by his own personal experience, being almost completely blind and made redundant from his job as an IT support team manager.
Redundancy, when it came in 2012, was the catalyst Nicol needed to fulfill his ambition, and he immediately set up his new business HQ at his home.
“Running this business from home was the obvious thing to do,” he said. “It is a familiar environment, so I was comfortable navigating my way around the office and I don’t have far to go to work. My home is the perfect business location for me.”
In addition to standard office equipment and computer telephone, Nicol uses special screen and document reading software, for which he secured some funding from the Government’s Access to Work programme. He also has the help of a field support worker for a few hours each week to carry out some of the practical tasks.
Some people are forced to give up full-time employment because of the challenges created by their disabilities and related health problems, but find a home environment enables them to channel their skills and expertise into a new venture.
Two years ago, 48-year-old Debbie Elsden had to retire from her full-time job as a designer due to ongoing health issues, notably back problems and lupus, an auto-immune disease. Then 15 months ago she began working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer at her home in Hertford, Hertfordshire.
It was after a prolonged period of sick leave that she made the decision to go freelance. Elsden revealed: “I’ve felt so much better in my own environment. At home you can control your working conditions and hours to suit. It has been the right decision for me. My health issues haven’t gone away, but I am now in control of them. There are drawbacks, but the benefits far outweigh these.”
One of the major problems for people running a business from home generally is the isolation and loneliness, which can lead to depression, feeling very cut off and losing motivation, said business coach Karen Meager, from Monkey Puzzle Training & Consultancy.
She said: “There aren’t many people who are truly happy on their own for very long periods of time. This is not specific to people with disabilities but the problem becomes exacerbated when you take into account the additional emotional and physical pressures people with disabilities are under.
“I would advise anyone who decides to do this to think of ways they can connect with and share ideas with other people in a way that supports them. That might include holding meetings at your home where it is easier or joining online business networking groups and discussion forums. All of these can help people feel more involved and connected with the world which supports their emotional well-being and helps keep them motivated.”
The Disabled Entrepreneurs’ Network (DEN) is an additional source of support for self-employed disabled people and those setting up and running their own small businesses, while help and advice is available from Action on Disability and Work UK.
This is a good read for MS fighters who know the day in-day out challenges of going to a job everyday because they need to make a living or just because they want to be in the working force.
Find out if working from home could be a great option for you by reading the full article on The Guardian.