State Policies

Missouri State Policies & Resources


Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation  

Policy Summary on Self-Employment:

Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation defines self-employment as “a business in which the client performs, supervises or subcontracts the major part of the product or service to be produced” and identifies that self-employment is a vocational option that may be considered in the wide array of employment options available and as part of a client’s informed choice. Unless the client has a background in business or business education, it is highly recommended that he/she participate in business development workshops or training through the local Small Business Development Center, University Extension Center or other appropriate, reputable source prior to considering a self-employment goal. Additionally, when pursuing self-employment, clients should plan to acquire skills he/she may need to support the business plan (e.g., accounting or marketing classes, training, seminars, etc.) to increase the likelihood of success. 

In Missouri, the assessment phase is designed to help the client and the VR counselor to determine together if the client is suitable for self-employment and includes evaluating the client’s skills, talents, and abilities related to self-employment.  This phase documents the client’s capacity for self-employment and includes an analysis of the client’s credit history. The client must complete a detailed business plan that includes a marketing plan, a financial plan, and a study of the industry and competitors.  

The feasibility requirements focus on the client’s capacity for self-employment rather than the feasibility of the business plan. The client must create a business plan prior to approval of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).  The IPE must include a schedule of contacts for the client that the VR agency approves.   

Missouri VR may contribute up to $10,000 toward the purchase of required business equipment, supplies, rent (up to 6 months), or other start-up costs identified in an approved business plan for self-employment.   limit is $10,000, and VR supervisor approval is required for all cases in which the agency is requested to contribute more than $10,000. The funding limits are organized according to a tiered structure.  

  • Start-up costs of $1- $5,000: VR contribution up to 100%
  • Start-up costs of $5001- $10,000: Maximum VR contribution of $7,500 (VR funding possible for the initial $5,000 plus up to 50% of the remaining costs)
  • Start-up costs of $10,000- $20,000: Maximum VR contribution of $10,000 (VR funding possible for the initial $5,000; up to 50% of the next $5,000; and up to 25% of the remaining costs)

The client is required to secure funding for any costs not covered by VR and to contribute to the business either monetarily or in-kind (e.g., a personal vehicle contributed to the business; tools/equipment already owned, PASS, sweat equity, etc.). VR funds may not be used to purchase the following: real property, defined as land, including land improvements, structures and appurtenances thereto, excluding moveable machinery or equipment; or automobile, truck, van, airplane, boat, other powered vehicle, or trailer that requires title and/or licensing by the state. Additionally, to receive VR funding, the self-employment business must comply with all applicable federal, state, local regulations and statutory requirements. 

Successful closure of self-employment cases occurs when earnings comparable to an average minimum wage for a period of 90 days can be demonstrated. There will be fluctuation so a weekly or monthly formula may be needed. Missouri VR uses the following formula to calculate average minimum wage: Money coming in – normal business expenses necessary to produce the product/service (raw material costs) ÷ 40 hours per week or less. 

Missouri Policy Manual:  CSG 1000 

Missouri Department of Social Services 
Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB) 
Policy Summary on Self-Employment:
Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB) provides technical assistance and resources for start-up costs for small businesses to eligible Missourians for whom self-employment has been determined to be a legitimate vocational outcome. It must also be consistent with the person’s interests, strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities and based on informed choice.  Assistance can be provided whether the self-employment involves a new start-up, buying an existing business, expanding/improving an existing business, or a home-based business. 
RSB defines start-up costs as anything that the business requires to open for the first day of operations.  These can include such categories as Facilities (rent, deposits for utilities, etc.); Equipment (furniture, production machines and equipment, telephones, computers, etc.); and Materials and Supplies (starting inventory, production materials and components, brochures, pamphlets, stationery/office supplies, etc.) While RSB funds cannot be used for vehicles, they can cover the cost of necessary disability-related
vehicle accommodations.   
The services provided are to address specific components: assessing the individual’s self-employment potential and assisting him/her to obtain any needed education or training, developing the business idea, assisting the individual to secure technical assistance to help develop the business plan, determining the availability of resources other than RSB funds, reviewing and approving the business plan, purchasing the agreed upon items/services and following up until case closure. 
The RBS Counselor, Business Consultant and the individual work together to write the Business Plan.  While there is not a specific template, RSB recognizes that there are typically common elements contained in a Plan.  These include the Executive Summary, a Company Description, an Industry Analysis, a description of the Target Market, identification of the Competition, a Marketing and Sales
Strategy, a description of the Operations, Management and Operation of the business and Financial information. Once written, the Business Consultant is asked to write a letter referencing the financial soundness of the Plan and the obtainability of the sales projections.  The Business Plan has a final review at the State Office by the Small Business Review Committee. 
The Business Plan must include an internal document “Itemized Source and Use of Funds for Small Business Start-Up” which outlines identified start-up costs and the specific source of funding for each item. 
RSB may pay no more than 75% startup costs.  The individual is expected to contribute at least 25% of the total start-up costs.  This contribution may include such things as utility deposits, accounting or management consultants or marketing material.  When RSB’s payment reaches $17,500, any requests for payment of additional startup costs must be reviewed and approved by the Deputy Director or designee. Also, requests for payment of additional startup costs beyond six months after the initial payment must be reviewed and approved by the Deputy Director or designee.


The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.

Missouri Start-Up Resources (PDF)

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