Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: A L.O.V.E. Story
Over the next four issues, Minerva & Nelson Santiago from Picasso & Einstein invite you to learn about “Person-Ventured” Entrepreneurship.
This article will demystify the erroneous concepts of entrepreneurship and clarify the many benefits of keeping a business venture simple and small, or Micro! It will also include what language to use when writing an executive summary for a micro-enterprise. We invite you to take the CHALLENGE and write your Executive Summary.
How do you define entrepreneurship?
Webster’s dictionary ghastly defines it as “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss.” That definition in itself may lead one to believe that someone who pursues traditional employment risks no loss at all. We prefer Robert Herjavec’s definition of entrepreneurship; “creating the tangible from the intangible.”
Regardless of which definition has a stake hold in your mind, no one can deny that entrepreneurship has been the historic backbone of our nation’s eco-system, and continues to drive innovation worldwide.
So what does entrepreneurship have to do with disabilities? EVERYTHING!
Our current unemployment rate nationwide is steadily between 6-7%*. Our national disability unemployment statistics are double that at 13.4%*. What does that mean? Over 8,000,000* adults with disabilities are unemployed in this country alone. Yet the U.S. has only created 2.6 million new jobs this year**, all of which are heavily sought after by millions of non-disabled Americans. With so many of our loved ones with disabilities, either unemployed, etched into jobs that we ourselves would not seek out, and other’s even less fortunate with no employment opportunities at all, it’s a wonder why we continue to invest trillions of dollars in job coaching, employment skills and resume writing for jobs that either don’t exist, are highly competitive or outright humiliating.
Job creation: Not only for large companies.
More often than not, when people talk about job creation, they envision new tech startups, new government initiatives or simply new markets that spin off dozens if not hundreds of jobs. But people forget that the very title ‘job creation’ can be applied in singular terms. How about creating one job! Your own job through your own micro-enterprise that employs you!
*Bureau of Labor Statistics | **Washington Post 12/5/14
Job creation is exactly what it means to say. It’s as was quoted earlier, creating something out of the perceivable ‘nothing.’ I say perceivable nothing because too often we assume there is nothing, but I dare to say that disabilities does not strip our loved ones with the sense of humanity and desire that is intrinsic within us all. This perceived nothing is apparent and quite obvious in many things we simply don’t notice.
One may say, “Well my son/daughter is non-verbal and really can’t have a job, much less be an entrepreneur.” Then I would ask, “Does your son/daughter love to do something? Anything?” Then the parent responds, “Oh yeah, he/she loves to fold clothing. So we let him/her help us with laundry and he/she does all of the folding.” FORWARD 6 MONTHS
That same family starts a micro-business from their garage; they start a laundry business. They design a website, flyers and business cards for their son/daughter and walk around the neighborhood sharing the services with their neighbors. Soon the entire street become customers, and this young man/lady is now folding clothing for others in the community, getting paid and even interacting with some of them for the first time. That is job creation.
I recently heard of another young lady with disabilities who struggled finding a job, but loved to type and write. Long story short, she now writes letters and scribes emails for senior citizens at retirement homes who want to communicate with their grandchildren. She makes $5.00 a letter/email. That is job creation!
What entrepreneurship is NOT!
Most think entrepreneurship is about a solitary, singular venture. Honestly, how can I blame one for thinking that? Most entrepreneurs we hail and celebrate often relate the all too familiar story of being locked up in a garage or hotel room for months on end, with only pizza and water as their main source of sustenance, oh yeah, and rock music. But is that the WHOLE story to their successes? Is that what entrepreneurship is? Hardly!
Our society has celebrated heroism and genius in singular terms for decades. Yet how often we hear the stories long after they are gone, that a multitude of relationships, conversations, collaborations and interactions played an equal part in their success, and ultimately their ‘brilliant idea.’
Entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities is that very same experience. We focus on the notion that ideation (development of ideas) is a conglomerate experience. We believe that ideas are fused together and refined as a result of conversations, group activities, relationships and lots of making mistakes.
How do I get started?
Notice the question is not “Is entrepreneurship right for me?”. The reason being that I believe that entrepreneurship, although it may not lead to groundbreaking news, will absolutely lead everyone to new experiences, new conversations and a new perspective of life. Start off with a few questions*:
- Why do I want to start a business?
- Do my strengths and interests match my business goal?
- What limitations will I have in running a small business?
- Do I have a team of persons who are willing to assist with accommodations?
Do not be misled. Entrepreneurship is not the silver bullet!
We don’t believe for a moment that simply learning entrepreneurship is going to make an immediate paradigm shift in the life of your loved one. Nor do we believe that it needs to lead necessarily to the next million-dollar idea. Remember: our loved ones are like a cruise ship that can only shift slowly to the left or right, but 100 miles later the destination has been altered.
Time and again, we have taught students that prior to our program had never been more than 5 feet away from their parents. Once they learn entrepreneurship, talk about it, experience it with others on the same journey and then most importantly, get their hands dirty trying, they begin thinking about what they CAN do, focusing on THEIR ideas, THEIR wants and desires and most importantly, THEIR FUTURE.
Are you ready to get started?
The first thing you want to do, after answering the questions above, is start working on an executive summary. Click here>> “How do I get started?”
Read More Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship
- “Person-Ventured” Entrepreneurship Series
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: Objectives of a “Person-Ventured” Business
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: How Do You Define Viable?
- Person-Ventured Entrepreneurship: What Do You Know About Entrepreneurship
Minerva Vazquez Santiago, co-founder, is a successful attorney focused on special needs law. She has experienced entrepreneurship for the past 15 years. Boaz Nelson Santiago, co-founder, has a background in psychology specializing in youth leadership and entrepreneurship education the past 15 years. www.picassoeinstein.com
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2015 Magazine