Find us on Facebook graphic image link
Follow us on Twitter  graphic image link

RAISE The Standard, March 2022, v.8 n.3

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

View this newsletter in your web browser

photograph of the word entrepeneur in a dictionary page


In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we explore the entrepreneurial spirit of starting a business. When people dream of owning a business, they imagine a life of mission-driven work, control and flexibility, and being their own boss with unlimited potential for income. But the reality is not that rosy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), half of all startups fail after five years, and 90 percent will fail by ten years. In fact, 21.5 percent of startups fail in the first year alone.

In spite of the grim statistics, entrepreneurship and self-employment can be a valuable and viable option for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are self-employed at nearly twice the rate of their non-disabled peers. In 2019, roughly 700,000 workers with disabilities were self-employed, enjoying the flexibility and opportunities that entrepreneurship provides.


video screen grab from Born for Business trailer on YouTube

Want to get inspired? Check out Born for Business, a powerful docu-series that spotlights the lives of four entrepreneurs with disabilities.

“I am an entrepreneur and I make cookies. It is so damn hard, but I am the boss… I will never give up.”

-   Collette Divitto, Owner of Colettey’s Cookies

Born for Business is now streaming on Peacock.


Watch the Born for Business trailer now on YouTube >>


Young woman in a wheelchair making a proposal pitch to a gathering in an office

Making the Pitch: Presentation Skills

At some point, every entrepreneur will have to make a pitch. That’s why it’s important to be able to distill your idea into a short, persuasive summary, motivating investors to get on board or potential customers to convert.

We turned to for tips:

Get to the point. Focus on the core message you want to give and make sure it’s verbalized within the first 30 seconds. Be short and to the point, not overly verbose; use phrases that you feel confident saying and are sure other people would understand.

Practice! You have to practice (a lot) to become comfortable and familiar with the material. If you aren’t well rehearsed, that will show. Prepare and practice in front of anyone who’ll listen, until it’s as easy as telling your favorite story to a friend.

Don’t be a broken record. Before you create a pitch, do your best to understand your audience. Try to identify what drives that particular crowd so you can adapt your pitch accordingly. It shouldn’t be exactly the same pitch for a potential investor vs a potential customer.

Make an emotional connection. Formal presentations are just that—formal. Quick pitches are different. You have about five minutes make an impression, and that often requires invoking an emotional response from your audience. A strong story that connects your listeners to the idea is what they will remember.

Be confident. Believe in yourself as a business professional. You’re selling yourself just as much as you’re selling your product or service. Play the part and trust that you are worth listening to. That internal confidence will shine outward.

Read the full post from here >>


Tools icon with a wrench and a screw driver in a yellow circular field

Developing a Business Plan

They say that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Make sure your business is successful by developing a comprehensive business plan. A business plan is a roadmap describing a business, its products or services, how it earns (or will earn) money, its leadership and staffing, its financing, its operations model, and many other details.

There are good reasons to write a business plan—it’s not solely the domain of entrepreneurs who want to get a business loan to start or grow their company. Business planning is proven to help a business grow 30 percent faster.

A great business plan can help you clarify your strategy, identify potential roadblocks, decide what you’ll need in the way of resources, and evaluate the viability of your idea or your growth plans.

Video screen grab from Lean Planning video from

This YouTube video explains how to write a business plan in under an hour >>

video still from Small Business Associations tutorial on making business plans

Click here to access the Small Business Association’s short course on how to write a business plan >>


magnafying glass icon on teal colored circular background

Government Services That Support Self-Employment or Business Development

For people with disabilities who are interested in exploring entrepreneur opportunities but are currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, here are some resources and options:

PASS. For those on SSI, the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a program for developing your plans and achieving your goals. A Plan to Achieve Self-Support is a written plan of action for pursuing and getting a particular type of job. A PASS describes the steps you will take, and the items and services you will need to reach your work goal. When you have an approved PASS, Social Security does not count the money you set aside to help you reach your work goal when determining your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Click here to learn more about PASS >>

Ticket to Work. For those on SSDI, the Ticket to Work program can help you launch a small business and become self-employed. Social Security Work Incentives make it easier for people with disabilities to work and still receive medical benefits and, in some cases, cash benefits from Social Security. In fact, certain Social Security Work Incentives may help you set aside income or deduct business expenses from the countable income that Social Security uses to determine your eligibility for benefits and cash payment amounts.

Click here to learn more about Ticket to Work and its incentives for self-employment >>

Vocational Rehabilitation. The national Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program is a vital resource for people with disabilities who want to get into the workforce. They also have professionals and funding to support the creation of disability-owned businesses. In Iowa, the state’s VR services agency has had success training people to become entrepreneurs. This free online webinar shares how they are doing it—and what ideas can help others succeed.

Click here to access the webinar, “Successful Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities” >>

jasmine Shao video screen grab on side hustles

Consider a “Side Hustle”

A side hustle can be a good way to test out a new business. The work can be flexible and fun, and give teens in particular a taste of self-employment. In addition to traditional side hustles (child care, dog walking, lawn care, personal shopping, or pet care) there are other ways to make money. Jasmine Shao, founder of the YouTube channel and Instagram account @studyquill suggests:

  1. Sell old clothes
  2. Make YouTube videos
  3. Sell your art (prints) online
  4. Sell handmade crafts
  5. Sell stock photos
  6. Tutor online or in person
  7. Social media management
  8. Transcription services
  9. Driver or shopper for Instacart or DoorDash

Jasmine provides tips and suggestions for how to get started, and describes the drawbacks and upsides of side hustles.

Watch Jasmine's video on side hustles now >>


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the US that provide training and programming to youth/young adults with disabilities and their families, professionals, and other PTIs and CPRCs on the issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

Real Transition Partners.png

In this issue, meet REAL Transition Partners, SPAN Parent Advocacy. SPAN is the lead partner in Region A-2 for parent centers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Learn more about REAL Transition Partners (SPAN) >>


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background


Josie Badger

Being a Boss

By Josie Badger

Josie Badger is a business owner, writer, consultant, policy expert, thought leader, and advocate. She never thought about owning her own business, but has learned a lot in the eight years since she started J. Badger Consulting. In this blog post, she offers tips for entrepreneurs with disabilities to get things off the ground.

“I never really thought about owning my own business (of course, I also thought I would be a marine biologist, but that surely has not happened). As a kid I was often told that I had extraordinary leadership skills (actually I think it was more like bossy, but I will call it leadership).”

-  Josie Badger

Click here to read Josie Badger’s blog post on business ownership >>

RAISE The Standard

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor:

Josie Badger

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

US Dept of Education logo seal

The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Find Your Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)