GAELYNN LEA

Thoughts On Self-Employment

Today I am wearing my favorite necklace. It was made by an artist with a disability named Anjuli… I get compliments on it ALL. THE. TIME. (Pssst… You can check out her artwork and jewelry here: Expressions by Anjuli)

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Every time I wear it, I am reminded of all the entrepreneurs with disabilities out there. According to Department of Labor statistics, people with disabilities are about twice as likely to start their own businesses as their able-bodied counterparts (as a self-employed musician with a disability, I am helping to confirm this statistic). Something like 14% of people with disabilities are taking their employment into their own hands. I find this to be both empowering and inspiring.

The reasons to go into business for one’s self are no doubt varied. In my case, it was partly because the 9-5 working world was not conducive to someone who doesn’t drive, has lots of doctor appointments, and takes forever to use the washroom. But I also made the switch because it’s exciting to be the author of my own professional future, even if success isn’t guaranteed. I love to create, and starting your own business makes this possible on almost every level.

On a more subtle level, perhaps having a disability forces you to get more comfortable with living life outside the box. You’re used to standing out in most situations, so why should one more societal difference be a big deal? Maybe in a society that doesn’t really value accessibility (paying lip-service to “inclusion” or “acceptance” is different than actually building a ramp), you feel like to some extent you’re always fending for yourself anyway. It might be less stressful and more fulfilling to fight your own battle on the periphery instead of working so hard to make it in the mainstream.

How about you?  Do you have your own business, or have you always dreamed of starting one?  If you haven’t made the leap yet, why not?  What are some steps you could take to get you closer to your dream? There are tons of great resources out there to help you clarify your mission and to provide you with helpful tips and motivation. No matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, please know that I am cheering you on!

Author: violinscratches

Gaelynn Lea is a musician and public speaker from Duluth, MN. She is passionate about disability advocacy, personal growth, and authentic living. She was the winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest in March 2016.

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