State Policies

Michigan State Policies

Michigan Self-Employment Policy:

Self-employment, including small business, may be considered as a vocational option for eligible individuals if:

• it reflects the individual’s informed choice;

• is consistent with the individual’s strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, interests, abilities and capabilities, including appropriate accommodations.


Self-employment plans shall be supported, at least in part, by resources beyond MRS, and make appropriate use of available community benefits and resources.

All self-employment plans that involve starting a business venture shall have a viable Business Plan prior to the approval of the Individualized Plan for Employment. Small business enterprises may be supported by Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) as part of an IPE if they:

• comply with all relevant state, federal and local laws and regulations

• are owned and operated by the individual being served by MRS

• are organized as a “for profit”, as appropriate

• do not involve speculative activities (i.e., pyramid ventures)

• are designed to become a major source of income for the individual to the greatest extent practical.

A case closed successfully in any form of self-employment shall reflect income and other criteria described in the Business Plan or the IPE. Because business enterprise plans require extensive development activities, the period of time required to develop an IPE will often exceed the standard 90-day time frame. Closure of business enterprise and other self-employment cases must be considered on an individual basis, consistent with the criteria for successful employment established in the IPE, and is likely to exceed the minimum 90 day follow-up period required for all successful closure.

Policy Link: (pages 175-177)

Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (LEO)

Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP)

Vocational Rehabilitation Program:

Self-Employment/ Small Business Overview

The purpose of the Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP) is to assist eligible residents in achieving careers consistent with their interests, abilities, priorities, resources, experiences, and informed choice. Self-employment is one vocational option. BSBP uses three definitions of self-employment/small business. All self-employment models should generate income to achieve self-sufficiency or significantly augment non-wage income.

  1. Self-Employment: generating earnings through a business, contract work, or freelance activities typically with minimal costs and no employees.
  2. Small Business: independently owned and operated company with one or more employees. Different categories of business structures are allowed.
  3. Supported Self-Employment/Microenterprise: a business owned by an individual with a significant disability who receives ongoing assistance. The individual must be eligible for supported employment services.

BSBP uses a multi-phase process to help the customer be successful. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) assists as needed throughout, and the customer may also be referred to an approved Small Business consultant for assistance as appropriate. Positive outcomes from each phase must be achieved before moving to the next.

Phase 1: Communication and Explanation

When a customer is considering a small business or self-employment vocation, the VRC will work with the customer to make an informed decision by explaining the steps and processes needed to proceed on this career pathway.

Phase 2: Self-Assessment

A self-evaluation will be completed to allow the customer to reflect on their preparedness for pursuing a Self-Employment/Small Business employment pathway. Self-Evaluations will help provide perspective about the individual capabilities, finances, and business potential.

Phase 3: Small Business/Self-Employment Vocational Assessment

During the vocational assessment, emphasis will be placed on the customer’s skillsets related to Reading, Mathematics, Communication, Orientation and Mobility, and Daily Living Skills.

Phase 4: Commitment

Using the information collected during the assessment phases, the customer will write and submit a letter of intent to the VRC. The VRC will develop an initial IPE jointly with the customer (or legal representative) that outlines the services pertaining to Small Business/Self-Employment career path.

Phase 5: Continuing Education

Based on the recommendations and results from Phase 3, the VRC and customer will discuss and arrange training opportunities to be completed before starting Phase 6.

Phase 6: Business Plan Development

The customer will develop a detailed business plan. The BSBP business consultant will review the business plan, asking the customer for revisions, if necessary. Once the business consultant believes the plan is complete, a review will be done. An opinion and recommendation will be provided to the VRC and BSBP management for a final consultation before approval of a Business IPE amendment for Small Business/Self-Employment.

Phase 7: Approval and Business IPE Amendment

BSBP management will make a final determination on the validity of the business plan related to Bureau assistance. Services may be added or removed as needed during further business development and implementation up until case closure.

Phase 8: Case Closure and Follow-Up

With a small business/self-employment vocational path, an extended time beyond the required 90 days in employment may be deemed necessary. With managerial approval, the exact time will be agreed upon between the VRC and the customer. After the case is closed, the customer will continue to provide quarterly financial reports to the Bureau for at least one year.

Supported Employment

Customers pursuing Supported self-employment/microenterprise would follow the same 8 phases in addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for supported employment services. The identified business should be geared at meeting the unmet need of the labor market while incorporating the individualized planning and support strategies necessary for success in a competitive integrated environment.

Financial Participation

Customers pursuing the small business/self-employment outcome will be required to participate in the financial responsibilities of the small business or self-employment outcome with assistance from the Bureau. Financial assistance from the Bureau is only approved for goods and services as outlined in an approved business plan. It must be detailed in the Bureau customer’s IPE and approved by the customer (or guardian) and the Bureau counselor. No goods or services can be provided that violate state or federal law.

Participation by the customer will equate to 25% of the total of that request. The customer will provide written documentation regarding the investment of funds from micro-loans, commercial and customer loans, loans from family, forgivable loans, grants from any source, personal savings, income, funds from PASS plans, and/or equipment and inventory necessary for the business operation.

If the customer is using equipment and inventory to satisfy their customer participation, they must provide proof of purchase or documentation regarding the fair market value of the equipment and/or inventory.

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