New Mexico State Policies & Resources
New Mexico Commission for the Blind
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Policy Summary on Self-Employment:
The Vocational Rehabilitation Program of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind serves persons who are legally blind, and certain qualifying individuals with significant visual impairments. It supports eligible individuals to pursue self-employment when they and the Counselor determine that self-employment is appropriate and consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. The Commission defines self-employment as “an individual working for himself or herself in a business selling goods or services for the purpose of making a profit”.
One of the first steps in the process is to develop a tentative business plan. The Commission recommends using the Business Plan Guidelines available through the Small Business Administration (SBA). This tentative plan then serves as the basis for the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). While it is recommended that consultation be requested after this tentative plan is developed, in practice, consultation can be requested any time. There are six categories of entities where this consultation can be obtained: the SBA; Robert O. Anderson School of Business (UNM); Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE); banks or other lending agencies; private agencies or individuals with appropriate expertise; and other colleges, universities or business schools.
The consultant verifies that the business plan is sound and provides an assessment of the individual’s skills to operate/manage the venture. The Commission for the Blind reviews the plan with the consumer and potentially recommends revisions or additional research. Ultimately, the Commission’s Deputy Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Services renders the determination whether to fund the self-employment venture.
Types of services the Commission may provide include: training in either the actual field of work or in business operations; consultation as noted above; initial operating expenses, stock, supplies, tools or equipment; advertising; services to family members; and other services listed on the IPE to overcome functional limitations.
The Commission considers the following five major elements along with the ability of the individual to perform the activities related to each of these when deciding whether or not to support a small business venture: Marketing—formal and informal market analysis prior to starting the business and later ongoing marketing activities; Financial Management and Planning—sound revenue and expense projections prior to starting the busines and later analyzing financial information to make decisions; Record Keeping—maintaining accounting records, filing taxes and meeting other state or federal reporting requirements; Inventory and Supplies—adequately projecting initial stocks equipment and supplies, maintaining inventory, and analyzing sales; and Organization and Management—overall management skills, self-motivation and independence.
No financial or funding limits are identified. However, policy does specify that funds cannot be used for permanent structures or buildings.
New Mexico Commission for the Blind, Manual of Operating Procedures, Chapter 8. https://www.cfb.state.nm.us/about/downloads/
New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Policy Summary on Self-Employment:
DVR defines self-employment as “an employment outcome in which an individual works for profit or fees in their own business, profession, or trade.” To be considered self-employed, the individual must own at least 51% of their business and perform or oversee “a major part” of business operations. Whether DVR chooses to support an individual’s self-employment plan depends on a several factors, including the viability of their business plan, the business’s total start-up costs, and the individual’s ability to acquire outside funding.
An individual pursuing self-employment must undergo an assessment of their business potential. During the assessment, a VR Counselor will evaluate the individual’s interests and skills pertaining to self-employment. The VR Counselor may conduct a formal assessment to determine whether the individual has the skills required to manage a small business, though this assessment can be waived if evidence of the individual’s capacity for self-employment is found elsewhere (e.g., in their work or educational history). Additionally, the VR Counselor evaluates the individual’s disability as it relates to self-employment which may include consultation with or referral to medical or psychological professionals to determine whether they can handle the cognitive and physical demands of operating a business.
Next, the VR Counselor completes a Feasibility Assessment, which details and evaluates the proposed business’s concept, market, and financial feasibility. The VR Counselor may also conduct a criminal background and/or credit check to make sure that the participant can acquire any licensing or certification needed to establish and operate their business.
To receive DVR support for a self-employment goal, the individual must have or acquire formal training related to their proposed business or a combination of paid work experience in their industry and formal education (e.g, training in business administration, office management, personnel administration, accounting and/or bookkeeping, etc.). These prerequisites can be waived if there is significant evidence that the participant can operate a small business.
The participant must also create and submit a comprehensive business plan. Along with prior assessments, the business plan is used to determine whether self-employment is an appropriate vocational goal for the individual. The business plan also serves as the basis for the participant’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) or IPE amendment. Completed business plans are sent to a Small Business Consultant for review; the Consultant’s review and appraisal of the business’s probability of success are submitted to the VR Counselor.
DVR funding is arranged in a tiered structure; the tiers are based on the total cost of the services detailed in the participant’s IPE. Participant contribution is required for tiers 2 and 3; this money can come from personal or bank loans, savings, micro-lender organization loans, PASS plan funds, etc. DVR does not fund illegal businesses, speculative real estate investments, employee salaries, or the refinancing of business or personal debt.
Tier 1 ($1 to $5,000): VR contribution, 100%
Tier 2 ($5001-$10,000): VR contribution, 50%; Participant contribution, 50%.
Tier 3 (> $10,000): VR contribution, 25%; Participant contribution, 75%.
Case closure occurs when the VR Counselor has determined that the participant has achieved a successful employment outcome. A successful employment outcome is consistent with the individual’s strengths, abilities, and interests; is in the most integrated setting possible; and has employed the participant for at least 90 days.
Factors such as whether the participant is meeting the timeline and goals established in their IPE, and the extent to which the business’s income has resulted in a decreased reliance on public benefits and increased independence, are also considered.
New Mexico Policy Manual: https://www.dvr.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ManualOfOperatingProcedures.pdf
The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.