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Becoming Self Employed: Summary

Whether your diagnosis has started you thinking about becoming self employed, or it's a thought that's been in the works for some time, don't let your health condition keep you from considering this option. The key is whether you're physically and mentally up to it and whether you are a good candidate for self-employment.

If you are thinking about becoming self employed, think about the following subjects, each of which are detailed in other sections of this article:

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Starting Your Own Business

Create A Business Plan

While business plans are usually used for small businesses instead of people who want to become self employed, thinking through the subjects usually found in a business plan forces you to think through both the big picture and what you wish to accomplish, as well as the details of how you will operate.

The business plan will help you determine how much money you will need to keep your life going until you earn enough money to continue your style of living.

Include which experts will be a part of your team. Perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make is identifying professionals to assist in areas where you lack expertise -- such as accounting, tax, legal, insurance and perhaps marketing issues. Look for professionals that work with self employed people or small businesses, that are compatible with your needs, and that have a business philosophy similar to yours. For more information, see How to choose an accountant, lawyer, insurance broker.

Think about what you want to happen if you become sick, either for a short or longer period of time.

  • Who can take over? Is the person prepared?
  • Have you made arrangements so someone else can sign checks? Borrow money? Sign contracts?
  • Who needs to know what, and who doesn't?
  • What do you want people to be told?

You can view sample business plans, complete with advice on how to create a business plan, at the government's Small Business Association site: offsite link.

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Am I A Candidate For Self-Employment?

While self-employment can prove to be an exciting and rewarding experience, keep in mind that getting a business off the ground can be a very time consuming proposition -- in fact it is often said that starting a new business will "take over your life."

Realistically assess your ability to work for yourself. Consider the following:

  • Am I a self starter?
  • Am I capable of making critical decisions on my own?
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to be on my own?
  • Am I willing to devote the kind of time and energy necessary?
  • Am I well organized?
  • Am I motivated?
  • How will being on my own affect my health?
  • How will starting on my own affect my finances?
  • Will I be able to maintain health insurance and other benefits?

If you still have a question after answering these questions, consider seeking advice from outside sources as to whether or not you would be a good candidate for self employment. Be sure to find one or more individuals who will give you an honest assessment of your traits, and of the prospects of the business you are considering. In the end, you are the one making the decision. It should be a decision with which you are comfortable.

Consider Working At Home

Thanks to the computer revolution, 1 in 10 workers operate on their own at home. Home based work can allow you to earn money ranging from a little to a lot on your own schedule.

People who work at home:

  • Are generally their own boss.
  • Set their own hours.
  • Don't have to dress or commute.
  • Can do fulfilling work.
  • Camaraderie is limited, it not non-existent.
  • May get some tax breaks.
    • There may be a deduction for having a home office.
    • Health insurance premiums can be 100% deductible.
    • Long term care insurance premiums are deductible subject to IRS limits.
    • Subscriptions to business publications are deductible.
  • Small business owners have access to tax-favored retirement accounts such as the individual 401(k).

Computers are inexpensive, you can connect to the internet via dial-up if necessary, High speed connection is available just about anywhere you live -- via satellite if not by a land line.

A few ideas for working at home without specific training:

  • Virtual Call Center: Many companies have started using people working at home to man their call centers. While foreign workers may be cheaper, American culture doesn't always translate.
  • Medical coders translate doctors' written diagnoses and lists of procedures into the codes that insurance companies use for billing. Generally people need to qualify by passing an exam, which generally involves a 12-18 month course. For more information, call the American Academy of Professional Coders at 800.626.2633 or see offsite link
  • Write Ethical Wills: Without training, you could write Ethical Wills or resumes for people. For more information, see Ethical Wills.

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Determine The Type Of Work You Want To Do

Ideally, your choice should reflect a business in which you are skilled and extremely interested. At the least, the work should provide the income, benefits, and other factors that are important to you.

If you don't know what business you would do, and want to explore ideas:

  • Contact National Association for the Self-Employed, offsite link or Tel. 202.466.2100.
  • Read through books such as:
    • Making Money with Your Computer at Home by Paul Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Penguin 2005.
    • 200 Best Home Businesses: Easy to Start, Fun to Run, Highly Profitable,by Katina Z. Jones offsite link, Adams Media Corporation offsite link 2005.
    • The Work-At-Home Sourcebook by Lynie Arden, Live Oaks Publications, 2005 specific information for finding, applying for, and getting home work from different companies.

Do Your Research

  • Can you earn enough to pay your living expenses and your health care expenses -- including the cost of premiums, co-pays, deductibles and uninsured medical costs?
  • How long can you reasonably expect before you are earning that much money?
  • How will you obtain your health and other necessary insurance? (To learn more, see Obtaining Health Insurance.)
  • What will your expenses be?
  • Where will you work? If at home, see Working At Home.
  • Competition, including local and national competition. Consider current or potential competition from the internet.
  • Sources of financing that you may have available on your own or through family members, friends or business associates.

The U.S. Small Business Association has information as well as thousands of links to information and resources for all aspects of creating a small business. Take a look at their site at offsite link.

Determine How You Will Finance A Short Fall Until You Start Earning Enough Money

Options include :

Use your own funds

More than one person has become independent through self employment by maximizing debt on credit cards. If you use credit cards to start the business:

  • Try to get credit life insurance on the card, and hopefully even credit disability coverage. The life insurance will pay off the debt in case you die. The disability coverage will postpone payment if you become disabled.
  • Be careful not to overextend yourself.
  • Think about what would happen if the business fails and you're stuck with the credit card debt.


Instead of cash, look to see if there are any assets you have that you can barter for what you need. The most obvious is to barter your services.

Ask Friends and family

Consider all family members, partners, friends and acquaintances as potential lenders -- or possibly as investors in your venture.

Money advisors suggest that you don't ask people to give you money who can't afford to lose all the money.

Small Business Administration Loan

To learn more, see:


Banks cannot ask about your health condition when considering whether to give you a loan. You are under no obligation to disclose your health condition.


Assistance is available for veterans. It's described at offsite link.

Where To Get Assistance To Help Start Your Business

There is a lot of free help that you may be able to access to help start a business, including the following:

National Association For The Self Employed provides information, as well as access to health insurance and other benefits. See: offsite link.

The Small Business Association, a division of the US Dept. of Labor, provides classes, information and thousands of links to help you find information about starting your own business. You may contact the Small Business Association at 800.UASK.SBA, or visit: offsite link.

The Small Business Self-Employment Service of the President's Committee on Employing People with Disabilities has additional resources and links at offsite link.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, dedicated to aiding in the formation, growth, and success of small business nationwide. Among other offerings, SCORE provides free e-mail counseling to people setting up their own business. Their website is located at: offsite link.

The U.S. Business Advisor is a government website designed to provide businesses with one-stop access to all federal government information, services, and transactions. The site is located at: offsite link.

SOHO (Small Office Home Office) is an internet community that brings together small business owners and provides resources, including information on obtaining health insurance. Their site is located at: offsite link.

The American Small Business Association provides information and benefits to members, including purchasing discounts and insurance products. Their site is: offsite link

Veterans who want to start a business should take a look at offsite link. The site lists financial resources as well as sources of business coaching.

Should You Disclose Your Health Condition To Investors/Lenders?

You are under no obligation to tell anyone about your health condition unless it could be harmful to them.

However, consider disclosing your condition to people or companies you approach to support your new venture.


Since you will be working on your own, your health condition may be material to the potential success of your new endeavor. If it is, it has to be disclosed. It could possibly even be a crime if you don't.

Whether you health condition material has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Consult an attorney about your particular situation if there is the least question.

If it helps, banks cannot consider your health condition when considering whether to lend you money.

Friends and Family

Even if your health condition is not material to your potential success, consider disclosing it to friends and family that you ask for money. How would you feel if a friend or family member not only didn't tell you about the diagnosis, but also asked you for money for a new business?

Consider Health Insurance And Other Benefits

Health insurance is still the best means of assuring access to the health care system. Given your health history, having health insurance is particularly important.

Consider how you will be able to maintain your current insurance or to obtain it through your work.

Consider How Being Self Employed Will Affect Your Family, Spouse, Partner

  • Does the family depend on you economically? If so, how will it cope while you get your new livelihood off the ground?
  • How will your family cope with your being focused on, and distracted by, your new work?
  • Will the family help? If so, will they expect to be paid for their services?
  • What will happen to the family's health insurance?