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Start a business: Self-employment

A photo of a woman selling tomatoes from a stall

Do you want to work and earn money but think that having a job may not be for you? Why not think about supported self-employment?

What is self-employment?

Self-employment is all about making or doing something that other people would be happy to pay you for. Starting your own business can mean earning money and building skills and contacts in a way that fits with your needs and lifestyle. You can even use your personal budget to pay for support to start a business.

Many people with learning disabilities have started businesses in all kinds of areas and you can too - read the miEnterprise stories or the 100s of micro enterprise business ideas at RED (Rapid Enterprise Development) to see how others have done it. And, best of all, there's lots of support and advice available and all kinds of resources and guides to help you get started.

Self-employment is a serious option and a great alternative to getting a job. Owning a business can give you more freedom, flexibility and control as you're in the driving seat. But, be ready to plan your business and think carefully about what it will involve.

Talk to the Camden Society's employment advisors on 020 7485 8177 for more support and information to help you get started.

Self-employment tools and resources

A great set of easy guides and workbooks are available from the Foundation for Learning Disabilities 'In Business' project for free. You can download the In Business Easy Business Planning series here too:

Download the Quick Guide to Self-employment from the In Business project.     Download the Developing a Business Idea workbook     Download the Writing a Business Plan workbook

A 2011 report on learning disability and micro enterprise, produced by EnDevA might also be useful for finding out more about how others have started a successful small businesses. The report highlights how suitable self-employment is for many people with learning disabilities if people get the right support. Download it below:

Download EnDevA's report on microenterprise and people with learning disabilities

Self-employment ideas

Stuck for your first set of ideas? Take a look at the RED micro business ideas page. You'll find some downloadable factsheets on sample business ideas to inspire you.

New Enterprise Allowance - Business support

The New Enterprise Allowance may help you if you want to start a business. You could get a mentor and financial support for the first six months - find out more at Direct.gov

Web resources

For advisors who are supporting people with learning disabilities to start self-employment there are many websites offering business advice and information:

RED CIC - Rapid Enterprise Development is a new organisation set up to assist people with disabilities and those that support them explore self-employment and small business opportunities. Their key purpose is to make setting up an enterprise as easy as possible: - www.redcic.com

miEnterprise - A social enterprise that supports people with learning disabilities to become self-employed through micro enterprise and personal budgets. Includes case studies and information on benefits and tax - www.mienterprise.org.uk

Business Link - Information and advice on starting up, getting a grant, sales and marketing and registering as self-employed: www.businesslink.co.uk

Start Ups - Information on all kinds of business areas including finance, marketing and how to get started plus start up guides for many different types of businesses - www.startups.co.uk

South East Enterprise - Start up support, advice and courses - www.seenterprise.co.uk

East London Small Business Centre - Start up support, advice and information tailored to your idea and plans - www.goeast.org

Download a Quick Guide to Self-employment from the In Business project

Link to Rapid Enterprise Development's business ideas page for people with disabilities

Find more web links to other self-employment and business advice resources online