Where your future begins

Self Employment

Status: Archived

Approved Date: June 17, 2016

  1. Explore other possible employment options when a client expresses interest in self employment so the client can make an informed choice.
  2. Review GREEN and RED Indicators of Success Flags with the client.
    • GREEN FLAGS (Traits that support success in self employment.)
      • Persistence/Passion
      • Goal oriented behavior
      • Business experience/management experience
      • Bookkeeping/record keeping skills
      • Support system
      • Demonstrated personal initiative
      • Computer skills (including basic typing)
      • Ability to identify and access resources
      • Stable financial history (has stable income and plan for transition to FT business, credit score, personal budgeting skills, etc.)
      • Stable physical/emotional situation (interpersonal skills, soft skills, physical/emotional stamina needed for managing business)
    • RED FLAGS (Traits that would make success questionable.)
      • Lack of persistence/follow through (tasks agreed upon not done in timely manner, changing plan/goals, unable to see goal/task to completion)
      • Unwillingness to accept immediate feedback (separating idea from self, ability to work with people of varied backgrounds)
      • History of credit/financial issues (recent bankruptcy, no reliable source of income)
      • Demonstrated unreliability (missing/late appointments, related to follow through, weak work history)
      • Poor problem solving skills
      • Unwillingness to ask for and utilize assistance
      • Unclear vision of business idea
      • Lack of stability (related to income, physical/medical condition, minimal time demonstrated sobriety)
  3. Complete the Self Employment Discussion Questionnaire.
    • Ask the client to write answers to each of the questions on this form and assist as necessary.
    • Discuss the answers with the client as a first time assessment of the business idea and how the client’s impairment might affect performance of the required duties.
    • Go to the next step unless you have concerns about issues identified, especially related to disability.
  4. Refer the Client for a VR assessment in computer skills, math or other related assessment based on the client’s business idea.
  5. Refer client to NebraskAbility for a Self-Employment Orientation and Consultation. Nebraska VR has a service agreement with NebraskAbility.

    • Complete the Self-Employment Referral Form.
    • Send a copy of the completed Self-Employment Discussion Questionnaire.
    • Send a copy of the VR Evaluation/Assessment Report.
    • Send any other relevant information.
    • Authorize “up to” 15 hours at $40 per hour for Referral/Orientation. Enter Assessment Support Service-Self Employment Consultation in QE2.
    • If more hours are required on any service, it is up to the Office Director and VR Specialist to determine if needed. Enter a task note that states the reason more hours are needed.
    • Travel (gas) may be authorized as needed throughout the process. (State rate from provider’s primary work location to Service Delivery site in excess of 25 miles round trip.)
    • Email all referral information and authorization to:

      Cory Roberts
      NebraskAbility, Inc.
      PO Box 394
      Plattsmouth, NE 68048
      ph: 402-296-2146 ext 102
      fax: 402-296-0265
      cell: 402-490-9789
      email: cory@nebraskability.com

      Christine Hess
      NebraskAbility, Inc.
      PO Box 394
      Plattsmouth, NE 68048
      ph: 402-296-2146 ext 101
      fax: 402-296-0265
      cell: 402-490-7468
      email: christine@nebraskability.com

  6. Refer Social Security Benefits Recipients to Easter Seals for benefits planning and analysis. (Mandatory-This must be completed before starting feasibility.)

  7. Before making a decision to use sources other than NebraskAbility for consultation contact the Program Director of Community Services.

  8. NebraskAbility will schedule a meeting (in person) with the client and VR to discuss the venture. (Videoconference an alternative)

  9. Client must provide his financial information for review. This may include taxes, credit scores, loans.

  10. NebraskAbility reviews and assesses all information. Recommends a Feasible Assessment study if warranted and client and VR agrees.

  11. Develop the IPE if the above criteria are met and the client and VR staff member agrees with the Business Plan.

  12. Email authorization to NebraskAbility.

Conduct the Feasibility Assessment (FA) if recommended.

  1. NebraskAbility will send a standard outline of services provided during the Feasibility Assessment to the VR Specialist.
  2. At the completion of the Feasibility Assessment, NebraskAbility will send a written FA report to the referring staff member and the client as well as schedule a meeting (in person or videoconference) to discuss the FA. In the report a recommendation is made on whether the idea appears feasible or not. In addition, it will include the Target Net Monthly Income Goal (TNMIG) set by the client. TNMIG is used to determine grounds for successful case closure. Maintain this report in the case file.

    • If the business idea is not feasible, NebraskAbility should be included in relaying the recommendation to the client. The meeting should be face-to-face.
  3. If all parties agree, VR authorizes “up to” 25 hours at $40 per hour for Business Planning.

  4. Email voucher to NebraskAbility.

  5. Refer client to ATP if accommodations may be required. Reason for referral is marked Self-Employment Consultation.

Develop the Business Plan (BP).

  1. NebraskAbility will send the VR Specialist a standard outline of services and timelines followed during the development of the Business Plan.
  2. Upon completion of the BP, NebraskAbility will provide a written copy to the VR Specialist and arrange for a meeting with the VR Specialist and the client to review the plan and funding.
  3. After this meeting, NebraskAbility will provide a written recommendation to the VR Specialist regarding funding and steps to implement the BP.
  4. The VR Specialist must review and approve the plan and funding before NebraskAbility will proceed.
  5. Ensure the following criteria are met:
    • The business idea or concept is sound, based on an appraisal of similar ventures and their result.
    • There is a market for the goods or services to be provided by the business based on an appraisal of the market for the goods or services, market competition, and the recipient’s market strategy.
    • The business venture is financially sound based on an assessment of initial start-up costs, credit and financing availability, and pro forma cash flow and profit/loss statements.
    • The recipient will be able to manage and operate the business based on the consistency between the requirements of the business and the recipient’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and interests.
  6. Maintain a copy of the business plan and the written recommendation in the case file.
  7. Develop the IPE if the above criteria are met and the client and VR Specialist agrees with the Business Plan.
    • In QE2, enter the Community Service: Small business – Technical assistance. Move the client to Services Initiated - VR Services milestone/activity upon IPE Approval.
  8. Authorize to NebraskAbility “up to” 25 hours at $40 per hour for Business Support and follow-up.
  9. Email authorization to NebraskAbility.
  10. Authorize the appropriate business start-up cost, skill training and/or or disability related costs as described in the Business Plan.
  11. When the business start-up items have been purchased and the business is operating, place the individual in Services initiated-Employment Follow-up milestone/activity.
  12. Monitoring of the business by NebraskAbility will occur until the business is stable and the client is self-sufficient or moving in that direction. A final report will be submitted to the VR Specialist.

Successful Employment Outcome.

  • NebraskAbility will determine when the individual has reached their Target Net Monthly Income Goal (TNMIG) by using monthly financial information supplied by the client. VR Specialist will be notified and provided with information regarding the amount of income the business is producing. A successful employment outcome may be considered at that time.
  • If the individual is unable to reach TNMIG but stabilizes at a lower income level for a minimum of 3 months, NebraskAbility will notify the VR Specialist in writing. A successful employment outcome may be considered at that time.
  • For reporting purposes in QE2 never exceed 40 hours for the number of hours the individual is working during a the week.

The following planning, client and funding requirements are essential to achieving a successful self employment/small business venture.

Planning Requirements

  • Expert Consultation. Use expert technical consultation when a client is considering self-employment as a vocational option. Private consultants who have the required expertise and have a contract with the agency provide technical consultation. The amount of consultation varies depending on the complexity of the venture.
  • Business Plan. Clients are required to develop and submit a written self employment Business Plan. In most cases individuals will be working with the business consultant listed below. The Business Plan is developed by the client with help from the consultant and submitted by the business consultant. The business plan must contain information presented in the Business Plan Outline.
  • Legitimate Employment Outcome. Self employment is an acceptable outcome within the federal definition of ‘employment outcome’ and is encouraged in federal regulations. This outcome is not restricted to only those situations when a person’s disability precludes competitive employment and it should not be considered only as a last resort.

Client Requirements

  • Maximize Potential. The intent of self employment is to maximize the individual’s potential.
  • Own Business. The client must own or be the majority partner in the business. Non-profit organizations are not owned by the individual and therefore not supported by the agency.
  • Provide Financial Information. The individual must provide monthly financial information as requested by Vocational Rehabilitation or by NebraskAbility.

Funding Requirements

Program financial assistance is available for:

  • Technical assistance and other consultation services to conduct market analysis, develop business plans, and in addition to program resources, secure resources from sources other than the program for the establishment and operation of the small business enterprise;
  • Expansion of a Business. The Director of Counseling must approve any request for expansion of an existing business. Approval will be based on whether expansion of the existing business is required to enable the recipient to earn a living wage. If approved, the requirements below for new business start up expenses, expenses not allowed, and application of resources apply;
  • Maintaining an Existing Business. Program financial assistance is available for assistive technology, adaptive devices, specialized equipment, and /or job site modifications which compensate for limitations resulting from a disability and assist the individual to maintain their self employment; and
  • New Business Start-up Expenses. Expenses related to starting a new business include the following and are limited to an establishment period not to exceed six (6) months.
    • Occupational licenses, franchise fees, and business permits including those required by any unit of state or local government.
    • Tools and equipment.
    • Stocks and supplies.
    • Operating costs such as rent, utilities, business liability insurance and advertising.
    • Vehicle acquisition.
    • Professional technical support including, but not limited to, legal and accounting services.

Program financial assistance cannot be used for:

  • Purchase of land or buildings; or
  • Construction, renovation, or remodeling of buildings or space to be used.

The recipient must first apply personal and/or family resources and all financing available through grants or loans to the required business start-up expenses.

  • Program assistance is available for the remaining business start-up expenses, up to the limit in Rule 72. Examples of specific loans available to individuals with disabilities include
    • Nebraska Alternative Financing Program (Administered by Easter Seals)
    • Nebraska Telework Loan Program (Administered by Easter Seals)


The Director of Counseling may grant exceptions to the limit on new business start up expenses after considering the following factors:

  • The availability of financing from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Small Business Administration, programs administered by the Under Secretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture, or other programs and entities experienced in the financing of start-up small businesses;
  • The reasons for the availability or non-availability of financing from the programs and entities listed above;
  • The limit for business start up expenses in Rule 72 along with other resources are insufficient to establish the small business enterprise; and,
  • The availability of other employment options consistent with the recipient’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and interests.

Other Considerations

  • Authorize agency funds for business start-up costs to vendors when possible since the state pays no state sales tax while the client would.
  • Assistive technology services (disability related expenses), technical assistance and skill training are not considered small business start up items and are not included in the funding limit in Rule 72 for small business start up expenses. They may be funded separately and may have funding limits established in Rule 72. Examples include:
    • Modification of a vehicle used in the business is an example of a disability related expense.
    • Technical assistance would include use of a consultant including an accountant or attorney to obtain information necessary during the feasibility study or during the business plan development. The monitoring fee paid to the business consultant is also considered to be technical assistance.
    • Skill training might be provided to an individual who needs to acquire accounting principles to do bookkeeping for the business

Business Plan Outline

Use the following outline to prepare a written Business Plan. The Business Plan provides detail for the business start-up. It includes a chart showing all start-up costs and the recommendation on how those will be met. Part of that recommendation will indicate that assistive technology or disability related costs are included and the amount of expected contribution by the agency in the actual business start-up costs.

  • Cover Sheet including; business name, owner name, business address, phone, email, website
  • Description of Business/Executive Summary: limit to 1 page, include:
    • General Business Description
    • Mission Statement/Business Philosophy
    • Goals/Objectives—including Target Net Monthly Income Goal (TNMIG)
    • Target Market
    • General Industry Description--business strength, competitive edge, reason it will succeed
    • Legal Form of Organization
  • Industry Background
    • Product, Services and Markets
    • Competition
    • Location of business
    • Operational Plan
    • Management and Organization
    • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Data
    • Sources and Uses of Funding Table—sources (business owner, Nebraska VR, loans, other), uses (equipment, inventory), etc.
    • Capital Equipment List—include short rationale of need for each item
    • Cash Flow Projections—2 years
    • Break-Even Analysis
    • Projected Profit and Loss\Balance Sheets—2 years
    • Owner Financial Information—Personal Financial Statement
    • Risk Mitigation/Contingency Plan
    • Accounting issues—how records will be kept and who will be responsible *Supporting Documentation
    • Written cost estimates for equipment, services, etc. for which Nebraska VR funds will be used, according to the following guidelines:

      $1,999.99 or less—1 estimate
      $2,000--$4,999.99—2 estimates
      $5,000 and up—3 estimates

    • Samples of Forms, agreements, business organization papers,
    • logos, etc.
    • Photos of products, business location, etc

back to top