Planning a Business Around a Person

Planning a Business Around a Person

The Capacity Building Framework

(gifts, talents, interests)
(legal, case studies, technical knowledge)
(supports, services)
Decision Making
(how decisions are made and by whom?; what roles do support people have?; how is the enterprise structured?)

(Concetta Benn, Tony Kelly, and Ingrid Burkett)

This capacity building framework aims to explore and explain the way a business can be planned around a person. The starting point should be with the individual, ask questions like:

  • What are the interests, talents, abilities and gifts that I/the person I know have?
  • What do I/the person I know have to contribute to the community?

This framework also draws a distinction between internal and external resources as per the table below.

Internal resources External resources
  • Gifts
  • Talents
  • Personality
  • Attitude
  • Abilities
  • Passions
  • Informal supports (friends, family)
  • Formal supports (paid workers, organisations)
  • Financial resources
  • Network
  • Assets (e.g. car, house, property, tools, machinery)

This aspect of the framework encourages you to look at the significant relationships that you or the person you know has in the community, family, or services. It explores friendships and the people who care for you/them. In looking at the relationships, the aim is to find the people who are or may be committed to the success of the business venture or volunteer role. The ultimate goal is to have diversity in the support network. The close supporters may be great in number or may involve just a few people. This will vary and there should be no expectation of numbers placed on the support network. We consider quality over quantity, the key being to ensure that all members of the support network are true believers. In the example of Katalin, a few key people were involved in helping to establish her role; whereas, many people are involved in Cameron’s support crew.

Many people report that asking family, friends and other community members to get involved is very difficult; they say that this can be a barrier to moving forward with an idea. However, the experiences of those that have faced this fear demonstrate that family, friends and others are often very willing to be involved, they just need to be shown how. If you are still feeling unsure about asking others to be involved, try seeking out encouragement from those that have been on this journey before you.

While looking at existing relationships, the potential to develop new relationships should also be considered. Ask questions like:

  • Who is already in my/their life?
  • Where might I find people who share my/ their interests?
  • How can I/they meet people who can help me/them to succeed in my/their business venture or volunteer role?

This aspect of the framework explores what is needed to start a business, as well as possible structures for the business. It may be useful to look at case studies and other people with disabilities who have set up small businesses already. A lot can be learnt from case studies, such as what has been useful and successful, what has been difficult, and what hasn’t worked. It can also illuminate supports and funding available to help create the business. The following websites contain further information:

You may also wish to seek legal advice or link up with local small business owners to seek advice, which has the added benefit of building your network.

Decision Making
The next aspect of creating a business is the decision-making process. Here there is a need to think about the capacity of the person with a disability and who is there to help with other aspects of the business, such as taxation, etc. It may be useful to use the person’s close supporters to help with the decision-making process. In order to ensure accountability in the business, it may also be useful to have a number of people involved in decision-making. For example, Cameron’s support crew of 11 people are responsible for business decisions relating to Cam-Can and Associates (outlined earlier), and they have a system in place that ensures all people have an equal say and equal responsibility in the decision-making process. Clarity of how decisions are made and who makes them will avoid confusion and potential heartache. There needs to be good communication around decision-making processes in order for the business to run smoothly. Also, legal structures will impact the decision-making process as well as the business structure. It may be useful to create legal documents to help ensure accountability and to keep everything above board.

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