Benefits

Disabled and in business? What to do if you become disabled and are self employed.

Becoming disabled is a difficult time for people, as it could affect every aspect of there life. For people who are self employed, becoming disabled can have a disastrous effect on their business.

The first piece of advice I can give to you if you find yourself in this position is to fight! This is not the time to feel sorry for yourself; you may have people who rely on you. I suspect if you are in business you are used to having to fight and if you want to keep your business you will need to act fast!

If you are self employed and have recently become disabled from sight loss (registered blind or partially sighted), become deaf or have mobility issues etc… it could have a negative impact on your business.

There is support out there to keep you in business. The last thing the government wants is for you to quit your business and sign on to full time benefits. In this article I will guide you through the support available and were to find it. Support which is designed to help you remain in business can take time to implement. The quicker you can apply for it, the faster it will be put in place, which should limit the impact on your business.

The main support available to people in business who have become disabled is.

1. Benefits
2. Access to work
3. Grants

1. Benefits

If you are newly disabled and in business, you could qualify for benefits which are designed to support you with the extra cost of living caused by your disability. Benefits such as, Disability Living Allowance are not means tested and could be paid to you whilst you are trading. This extra financial support could help you until you can fully operate your business.

There could also be support if your income drops during this time. You maybe eligible for Working Tax Credits, housing benefit, counsel tax benefit, which will supplement your income.

The key to accessing these benefits are working with the people who understand your disability. You need to contact local charities who operate in your area and specialise in you disability. You can find these by looking in the phone book or using the internet. These charities usually have staff who can help you access support.

2. Access to Work

Access to Work is a Government organisation who can provide funds to pay for a support worker, equipment or adaptation to your working environment to enable you to run your business (see ATW article for more info)

3. Grants

There are 2 different types of grants you may qualify for to enable you to continue in business. The first one is hardship grants if your disability is affecting your income and you are having difficulties in paying your utility bills, rents, child costs etc…the other type is a business grant (see business grants)

The key to remaining in business is knowledge and speed. Work with as many organisations as possible and get all the support you are entitled to.

Website not working? Blogging could be the answer.

You should think about your website like a plant, which needs regular attention to grow. If you leave it alone it will not grow, but others (websites!) around it will and you will get left in the dark.

Forget about your meta keywords and descriptions for now; these are still important, but what will make your website stand out is content and links. But, they must be the right content and links. In fact, great content and links!

Content and links are regarded as the best methods to get a website higher up the search engines. I have been recently working with a dancewear retail outlet with a website so I will use this as an example.

The first thing the dancewear shop needs to do is determine the keywords they wish to target. In this case they have done some research and found that the majority of their clients use the keywords “dancewear” and a geographical area. In other words, their customers type “dancewear Preston”, “dancewear in Preston”, “dancewear Lancaster”, “Northwest dance shops”, “dance shops in the Northwest”.

The next thing the dancewear outlet needs is a person in the company who can write dancewear related articles on topics such as, “dance classes in Preston”, “reviews on dancewear”, “what to look for in a dance teacher in Lancaster”, “local dance events in Preston”, “What would you like to see in our Preston shop?” etc. They would only need to write a little, but would need to do at least one per week.

This is the best way to get the right sort of content; can you see why? Each of these articles are searchable on the internet, due to their keyworded content. So, potential customers typing "dance classes Preston" might come across their article "A guide to dance classes Preston". They will then know about the shop and will hopefully buy something from them.

This is called “business blogging” and it's one of the best ways to get up the search engines. Quick fixes are not the answer and in the long run, if done correctly, should pay off. A business blog will also help the shop get links (another important factor in climbing the search engines). e.g. if you write about dance classes in Preston, some one might read your article and put a link to it on a forum, facebook account or their own website. As your blogs grow so will your links; see how it works? Their readers will be able to comment on their blog articles, which will produce even more content (remember you have control on what comments you allow).

The other advantage of the blog is that it makes you look like an expert to clients reading the blog. They may think "these guys know what they are talking about, I'll buy my dancewear from them"

What I recommend is you use a free program called “Wordpress.org” (this is the best blogging software), and have a link in your navigation bar called "blog". You can try WordPress for free at www.wordpress.com to see if it is suitable for you. If you feel that you are able to use it, then you can either install wordpress.org (the better version) yourself or instruct your web designer to do it for you. It will probably cost no more than £100.

Once installed, you will then design the blog to look like your website (it will not look exactly the same). ] Have a play with wordpress.com to see if this is suitable for you, there’s lots of help on the internet.

Once you feel competent with wordpress.org, you will be able to do all sort of cool stuff like a video walkthrough of the shop, events calendar, newsletters, advertising space for other companies such as dance classes, and all these programs are free.

My advice is, have a go at www.wordpress.com first and see if it’s something for you. If you enjoy blogging you can easily upgrade to www.wordpress.org and still retain all the articles you have written. Thanks to Catalyst Design Centre for support when writting this article

Permitted Work increased could help entrepreneurs with disabilities

Permitted work formThe amount you can earn whilst on Permitted Work has increased from October 2008. Previously a disabled entrepreneur on Permitted Work could earn £88.50 profit without it affecting their benefits. Now the amount has been increase to £92.00 to fall inline with the national minimum wage increase.

This extra £3.50 is only a small rise, but it’s worth remembering that it is profit and not earnings.

Example;- Now, if a disabled person’s business expenses (rent, materials, staff wages) were £100.00, they would be able to earn £192.00 without it affecting their benefits. Read the rest of this entry »

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