Ever thought of starting your own business as a disabled entrepreneur? Dominic has looked at the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs which is one option that might be available to assist you in starting out.
Making a million pounds
You know when you read stories about someone who made a million pounds from a small idea that they started from a bedroom? Or the one about someone who just sold their company to a multi-national because the idea was awesome? And each time you read it, you think “I want to do that.”
The piece that they’ll never tell you is that to become a millionaire, you have to first invest quite a bit of time and money to build and grow a business. Trust me, I know. Review My Wheelchair is testament to that. Even Sir Stelios, when he established EasyJet, had to seek financial support to get his idea (literally) off the ground.
Who can help
If you have a good idea, the most important thing is not to share it until you’ve got it written down somewhere and dated. Its not illegal to copy an idea unless it’s been patented or trademarked, so make sure you protect yourself.
Local Authorities might have business start up support teams who can help you identify the best way to protect and grow your ideas. They’re bound by confidentiality but if you’re still worried, get a free non-disclosure template from the internet and they’ll most likely sign it.
Once your idea has been growing for a little while, you might want to seek out some external support. Amazingly, when we did this, we applied to the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Leonard Cheshire The awards have a strong track record for investing and supporting disabled business owners. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and the team at Leonard Cheshire are on hand to support you with your application.
What could you do with the investment?
For Review My Wheelchair, we were able to apply for some trademarks and protect our brand. We were also able to upgrade legacy hardware. We also invested in some publicity materials to help grow awareness of the website. This is was one part of our plan if we won and the second part of our plan is in the pipeline.
How could you apply for the Stelios Awards?
Applications are open now for the 2018 awards. You can find more information at the Leonard Cheshire Stelios Award webpage. It can be a business idea or a registered business and must be at least 50% owned by a disabled person.
The closing date for the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs is 1 October 2018.
Tips for a successful application
There are a few things that can help you to make a successful application.
- Answer the questions on the form correctly. We recommend that you read the form twice to make sure you don’t make a simple error.
- Know your market. Make sure you have researched the facts and figures about your target customers and the industry
- Have a current online presence, including a website and Facebook page.
- Make sure you have a critical friend who can help you apply. We used a local business support service who proof-read and watched our video several times to ensure that we had got across our message.
Good luck with your application and we hope to be featuring you in the future.