8 | Resources

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Chapter 8

Business Development Resources


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Resources by Chapter

This section lists some brief information and links to outside resources we referenced in the manual. Click on the tabs to get resources corresponding to each chapter.

Chapter 1: Self-Employment Overview

  • Ipsen, C. & Swicegood, G. (2017). Rural and urban differences in self-employment outcomes among Vocational Rehabilitation consumers. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 46, 97-105.

    • Research article in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation that presents data that shows that self-employment is a viable employment option for people with disabilities in terms of weekly earnings and hourly wages, and that self-employment is important for rural consumers who face additional barriers to employment.

  • Office of Disability Employment Policy. (December 15, 2013). Self-employment for people with disabilities. Washington DC: Department of Labor.

    • A report from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy that helps policy makers, workforce development professionals, and people with disabilities view self-employment as a viable source of income for people with disabilities.

  • Revell, G., Smith, F., & Inge, K. (2009). An analysis of self-employment outcomes within the Federal/State Vocational Rehabilitation System. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 31, 11-18.

    • A report that studies self-employment in the VR system, including summaries of self-employment outcomes among VR agencies across the U.S. and self-employment outcomes by disability type.


Chapter 2: Self-Employment Readiness


Chapter 3: Business Feasibility

No external links

Chapter 4: The Business Plan

  • Choose Your Business Structure

    • The U.S. Small Business Administration guide to choosing a business structure. This site reviews and compares common business structures.

  • Small Business Market Research Reports

    • The Small Business Development Center network provides free market research reports of many industries that cover industry trends, market statistics, customer demographics, recent business articles, and links to industry trade associations.

  • Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition

    • The Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition searches U.S. Census data to provide demographic and economic data. You can research different types of businesses by location, and find out information that can help you write your business plan and learn more about your potential customers.

Other Resources

  • The Business Model Canvas

    • A Business Model Canvas is an outline you can fill out as you start to brainstorm your business plan. It lays out the different things you need to think about in a visual way.

    • There are different versions available online. Here are two:


Chapter 5: The Marketing Plan

  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database

    • A link to the Trademark Electronic Search System, which allows you to search the online database of trademarks for free.

  • Wikipedia's Professional and Trade Magazines

    • A list of professional and trade magazines in the United States.

  • Southwest Missoula State's Guide to Finding Trade Publications

    • A guide that provides information, step-by-step instructions, and tips on how to search for trade publications.

  • Wikipedia's Industry Trade Groups

    • List of industry trade groups in the United States.

  • Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • Website with lots of information and resources on how to start, build, and grow your business. Includes business guides, loan and grant information, and information on how to find local small business development centers and programs. 

  • SBA: Business Data and Statistics

    • A page on the SBA website where you can access data and statistics on your competitors, industry, and target customer groups.

  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

    • Information on how to find a Small Business Development Center near you. SBDCs provide one-on-one long-term professional business advising, training, and other services. Some of these services are free, and others are low-cost.

  • US Census: States and Local Areas

    • Data from the Census Bureau on topics including agriculture, education, income, population, and wholesale trade, retail trade, & manufacturing.

  • US Census: Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas

    • Information on populations in metropolitan and micropolitan areas.

  • US Census: Quickfacts

    • For fast, easy access to facts about people, businesses, and geography.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

    • A place to find data on things like consumer buying habits, selling prices, and production prices for various goods, among other topics.

  • Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment Wage Estimates

    • May 2016 occupational employment and wage estimates for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, by state.

  • City Data

    • Detailed profiles for every city in the US, including data on population, income, housing prices, and more.

  • Suburban Stats

    • Population information and statistics from every city, state, and county in the US.

  • Survey Monkey

    • A free online tool that helps you design and send surveys. Includes templates to help you write good survey questions, and lets you see and analyze your results easily.

  • Typeform

    • A platform that lets you collect and share information. A free basic version is available. You can create things like surveys, contact forms, polls, questionnaires, invitations, and online order forms with this website.

  • Google Forms

    • Another free platform to create surveys and other forms. Requires creating a free Google login so you can save your forms.

  • SurveyGizmo

    • Another online platform to create surveys. A free plan lets you send out 3 surveys at a time to 100 people; there are more advanced plans for a fee.

  • SurveyMonkey’s Writing Good Survey Questions

    • Three tips on writing good survey questions from SurveyMonkey.

  • Quick and Dirty Tips.com’s: How To Write Good Survey Questions

    • An article written by Neal Whitman with good tips and other things to think about when writing survey questions.

  • Community Toolbox, Chapter 3 Section 6. Conducting Focus Groups

    • University of Kansas, Workgroup for Community Health and Development

    • Explains what a focus group is, why they are used, and how to run one. There are also links to more online resources about conducting focus groups.

  • Focus Group Questionnaire Fundamentals- Basic Questions

    • FocusGroupTips.com discusses five different types of basic focus group questions.

  • Telecom Toolbox

    • A resource to help you build and manage your online social media presence. The site is designed for people who are seeking jobs, not specifically self-employed business owners, but many of the tips still apply. 


Chapter 6: The Operations Plan

  • IRS: Employer ID Numbers

    • IRS website where you can find information on Employer ID Numbers (EINs) and can apply for one online.


Chapter 7: The Financial Plan


Additional Resources

Business Development Resources

This section includes additional resources you might find useful as you develop your business plan.

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

    • The SBA is a government agency that provides assistance to small business. They can provide counseling sessions, loan guarantees, and contracts. We link to different pages on their website throughout this website.

    • The SBA has four main programs. Visit the SBA website to learn more.

      • Access to Capital (Business Financing)

      • Entrepreneurial Development (Education, Information, Technical Assistance and Training)

      • Government Contracting (Federal Procurement)

      • Advocacy (Voice for Small Business)

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

    • JAN offers individualized technical assistance, consulting, and mentoring to people with disabilities who are starting their own businesses. You can contact a consultant with your questions through a link on their website.


    • SCORE is a free SBA program where volunteers share their management and technical expertise with small business owners who are starting or growing their businesses. You can work with a mentor in person or online. They are a nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals.

    • SCORE offers: mentoring, free business tools and tips, and inexpensive or free business workshops and webinars.

  • Disabled Businesspersons Association (DBA)

    • The DBA is a volunteer nonprofit that is staffed by existing and retired business owners with disabilities who share their expertise through educational workshops, on the internet, and through group mentor activities with clients and job counselors. Their specialty is working with those who have severe and catastrophic physical and/or psychological medical challenges.

  • Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship

    • A list of self-employment and entrepreneurship resources provided by the Office of Disability Employment Policy for people with disabilities. Resources include a guide specific to youth entrepreneurship; the Assets for Independent Program; articles about business mentorship; and other business development resources.

  • Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS), Social Security Administration

    • PASS is a work incentive program that helps people with disabilities start and operate a business. If you qualify, it can be a source of funding, and you can set aside income and/or resources over a specific period of time to fund necessary goods and services to establish a business or to become a partner in an existing business. The Social Security Administration reviews written PASS and business plans before authorizing a PASS.

    • Learn more here:

  • The ABLE Act and Employment

    • A policy brief from the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities. It covers how the ABLE Act can be combined with federal benefit services and other federal programs and initiatives to further employment for people with disabilities.

    • For more information on ABLE Accounts and employment, see:

  • Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative

    • The American Farm Bureau Federation is a nonprofit that works to build rural communities. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative provides entrepreneurs with training, networks, and resources to help them succeed in their local rural communities. Visit the website to contact them for more information, sign up for their newsletter with resources and tips, and learn about the Rural Entrepreneur Challenge.

  • Procurement Technical Assistance Center

    • Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide technical assistance to businesses that want to sell products and services to federal, state, and/or local governments. PTAC services are available either free of charge, or at a nominal cost.

  • Export Assistance Center

    • Export.gov helps U.S. companies plan, develop, and carry out international sales strategies so they can succeed in the global marketplace. The website contains information, advice, and business tools to help business owners learn how to export, connect with foreign buyers, and expand operations into new markets. 


Funding Resources

This section includes additional resources you might find useful for business start-up funding. This is not meant to be a full list of funding resources. It is just a place to get started as you begin to search for start-up business funding options. Search the internet for things like “small business owner grants” to come up with large lists of funding options to explore. You should also talk to your VR counselor or a Small Business Development Center for information on local funding sources.

If you have bad credit, you might want to read this article from nerdwallet.com: Bad credit? Where to find small-business loans. The article also contains links to other articles about small business loans.

  • SBA Loan Programs

    • SBA does not lend money directly to entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.  Instead, it sets the guidelines for loans made by its partners, including lenders, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions. SBA guarantees that these loans will be repaid, which eliminates some of the risk to the lending partners.

    • Learn about the different types of SBA loans in the SBA Loan Program Quick Reference Guide

  • USA.gov Finance Your Business

    • Information and links to different government resources for funding your business.

  • US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

    • Provides microloans to help small businesses in rural areas startup, and provides training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs.

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

    • The SBIR program funds start-up and development costs for small businesses that are doing Research and Development, which allows small businesses to explore their technological potential, with the goal of commercializing the technology.

  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

    • STTR is similar to SBIR (above), but it requires small businesses to partner with a nonprofit research institution. The program's goals are to: stimulate technological innovation; foster technology transfer between small businesses and research institutions; and to increase private sector commercialization of innovations produced from Research and Development.

  • Accion

    • Accion is a nonprofit community organization that provides loans to small business owners. They also provide business advice and support through workshops and online resources.

Other Possible Sources of Financing

  • Family and Friends - Family and friends are the most frequently used source of business financing. Often family and friends are co-signers for bank loans.

  • Angel investors— People who invest their own money into a starting business in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt. They usually want a high return on investment, because if the business fails then they will not get any money back. For more information, check out these links:

  • Crowdfunding— Crowdfunding is when you raise many small amounts of money from a large number of people. Usually this is done over the internet through websites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. You can search the internet for other crowdfunding websites. Make sure you understand how the different sites work: some of them require that you meet your goal before you get any money, and others will give you whatever amount of money people donate.

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending— Peer-to-peer lenders are intermediaries between the borrower and the institutional investor, such as a hedge fund or bank. Read this article from Commercial Capital LLC to learn more about Peer-to-Peer lending and if it’s a good idea for your business: Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending for Small Businesses.



This tab contains veteran-specific business development and funding resources. If you have a resource that should be on this list, please contact us at rtcrural@mso.umt.edu and let us know!


Tribal & Minority

This tab contains Native American/Alaska Native, Hispanic, and other minority-specific business development and funding resources. If you have a resource that should be on this list, please contact us at rtcrural@mso.umt.edu and let us know!

  • Resources for Native American Women Business Owners

    • A list of resources on BecomingSelfMade.com specific for Native American business owners. Some of these resources may also be applicable for other minority groups. The list includes 26 funding, training, and networking resources. 

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Capital Investment

    • The Indian Loan Guaranty, Insurance, and Interest Subsidy Program helps provide financing for tribes and individual Indians. The program helps with loan financing, securing reasonable interest rates, and reduces risk for lenders and borrowers. 

  • Aspen Capital Fund (for Hispanic and Minority owned businesses)

    • Aspen Capital Fund provides services to help develop and start a successful business. They have experience with building networks, branding, developing a customer base, marketing, campaign development, and technology.