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  • Writer's pictureThe Barksville Inn

Business Owners With Disabilities: Stronger Together

Mar 26th, 2021

Owning a small business comes with its unique challenges but can be especially complex to navigate as a business owner with a disability— especially in the times of COVID.

That’s why we’re teaming up with leader of the Disabled Small Business Owners group, Kevin Kirby, to find out his top tips to successfully own and operate a business with a disability.

Owner of The Barksville Inn, a cage-free dog daycare and boarding service in Brooktondale, NY, Kevin has successfully been growing his business for the past five years.

4 Success Tips for Business Owners with Disabilities

Keep reading to find out how Kevin has grown his thriving dog boarding business in the face of adversity and how you can too, no matter what challenge you're facing.

1. Use your community for support

Sharing advice and supporting each other can be a huge help.

Kevin’s biggest piece of advice is to lean on other business owners who have encountered the same struggles. “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” Kevin says.

“I think that a lot of us have experienced similar challenges when trying to start a business as a disabled individual. Sharing advice and supporting each other can be a huge help.”

Finding it difficult to locate a group specifically for business owners with disabilities on any other platform, Kevin started a group on Alignable.

“I really believe that this group can help out a lot of other small business owners. Just having the ability to talk to each other and share knowledge is great.”

2. Don’t hide your disability, be proud of it

I try just to be open and proud of who I am and my disability.

“A lot of times, people with disabilities may try to hide it from clients. In my experience, it’s always better to be upfront and proud of who I am.”

Kevin has found that when he's open about his condition to clients, it becomes a differentiator rather than a drawback.

“You never know who is going to be biased against you, but I try just to be open and proud of who I am and my disability. And people really seem to respond to that.”

3. Identify your business as minority owned

Businesses who are owned by those with disabilities are considered a minority, and alongside other groups, are eligible to register and qualify for certain opportunities.

“There are different types of certifications for disability-owned businesses. Some are more helpful than others depending on your industry, so it’s worth looking into.”

Here are a few to check out:

  • Disability:In offers three different types of certifications for businesses that are at least 51% owned by disabled individuals. This certification gives you access to special resources, networking opportunities, and corporate contracts.

  • The SBA has a similar program for disabled veterans. By registering with the SBA as a disabled veteran-owned business, you can get first access to government contracts.

4. Hire employees who complement your abilities

Everyone has different talents and abilities, and no one can do everything— whether or not they have a disability. If possible, Kevin suggests hiring some employees with other skills to complement what you do best.

Rather than just giving up when there are obstacles to running his business due to his disability, Kevin leans on his employees to help him.

Find Your People

Building a business is hard, and building a business as a disabled individual comes with another set of challenges. With hard work and talent, Kevin created a thriving business, and you can, too.

Here are some ways to find support for the challenges you're facing:

What challenges have you faced as a business owner? How did you find support and overcome them? Share in the comments below!

Interested in learning more about Kevin’s business?

Connect with him on Alignable here. And check out his Instagram and Facebook pages for some dog pictures that are sure to brighten your day!

Abby Cervera is a Marketing Analyst at Alignable. She is passionate about cooking, interior design, dogs, and most importantly, small business.



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