Starting a business can sound like a big deal, but there are a variety of self-employment work styles that can provide flexibility, independence and professional growth opportunities and which do not require significant monetary investments to start. Two examples: the student who starts a business tutoring high school kids in their neighbourhood; the new grad who does freelance graphic design or coding through a freelance website. Many who venture into self-employment start small and grow as they go.
Many people also have ‘side-gigs’ making and selling a product or managing a web site or blog which brings in advertising revenue while working in a more traditional company structure. Other self-employment opportunities may involve becoming a subcontracted associate, earning through commission sales or growing a clientele with the support of an established business.
There are a wide variety of non-traditional and entrepreneurial ways to earn money and gain valuable experience which can be good career-building steps for more traditional forms of employment or present a rewarding career path in their own right.
Self-employment can work well for people with disabilities due to the flexibility and control being one’s own boss can present. That being said, growing a small business can require energy, motivation and the ability to try, fail, learn and try again. Is self-employment for you? This handbook on self-employment for people with disabilities discusses the pros and cons and provides bios of successful business owners with disabilities. There are many government-sponsored programs to support students and grads with and without disabilities. Interested to investigate and maybe start your own business? These resources can help you learn more or get started.
Rise Asset Development
Rise Asset Development is an organization that provides business training and support to young entrepreneurs with mental health and addiction challenges.
Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports
A Provincially funded one-on-one employment supports service for persons with disabilities providing help to get ready for work and find a job or start up a business. Choose a service provider in your local area and get supports to get working or start a business. ODSP Employment Supports to start up your own business
Business Enterprise Centres
Learn from small business professionals to start or grow your small business. Free business information, resources, business plan reviews, seminars and workshops, and online courses. IDEA Mississauga is a great place to start.
Job Skills - Build Your Business Program
Job Skills has self-employment support programs for persons with disabilities, funded by Employment Ontario.
The Ontario Opportunities Fund
This program provides funding for organizations and individuals who want to create initiatives to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for persons with disabilities. Got a big idea? Want to start a program or project for people with disabilities? This could be the program for you. Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities
updated July 2023