Wisconsin State Policies
Wisconsin of Workforce Development
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
Policy Summary on Self-Employment Business Start-up:
Wisconsin (DVR) guides consumers who are interested in self-employment through a detailed exploration and research process. When an individual indicates interest in self-employment, the DVR Counselor provides counseling on the pros and cons of self-employment and vets the appropriateness of the business venture.
DVR uses multiple assessments including the Entrepreneur Readiness Questionnaire, Business Assessment Scale, and Entrepreneur Readiness Worksheet (an internal document) to determine if the consumer has the skills and abilities to own a business. The individual’s FICO score, criminal history, personal finance information is typically requested as well. Any individual who receives SSI or SSDI is referred for assistance with understanding potential incentives as well as the impact of self-employment on their benefits.
Detailed research is required to determine feasibility of the proposed business. The feasibility study is one of the most critical steps, with three possible outcomes: green—move forward; yellow—create action steps to resolve concerns; or red—do not move forward, the business in not consider feasible. The Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) is written to move forward (green) as well as any action steps required (yellow).
DVR requires a detailed business plan suitable for presentation to potential investors. This business plan is submitted to DVR’s Business Plan Review Committee (BPRC) for approval, once approved the IPE is amended outlining the services, supports and steps to be provided by each involved party.
DVR funding is used to purchase start-up services and equipment identified in the approved Business Plan and detailed in the IPE. Business start-up costs exclude costs for training, assessment and rehabilitation technology services. The individual is required to fund costs not covered by DVR and to demonstrate access to sufficient monthly working capital. In-kind contribution can be considered as the consumer’s participation, but not for demonstration of working capital.
The amount covered by DVR depends on the identified start-up costs and the demonstrated working capital. If the identified start-up costs are $10,000 or less DVR will cover them 100% and the individual will need to demonstrate the availability of the working capital for 2 months. For ventures with identified start-up costs of $10,001 and up DVR will fund 50% (but 100% of the first $10,000) and the individual will need to have the projected working capital for 4 months.
The case is closed as successful if the business generated income to meet the IPE requirements related to number of hours worked at minimum wage.
There are multiple “check-in” points throughout the process to better ensure a success venture.
DVR also supports Customized or Supported Self-Employment. While closely aligned with the self-employment process, Customized or Supported Self-Employment requires a planning and support team called the Business Planning Team, or BP Team. Typically, the businesses started using customized self-employment are smaller. This practice, designed for individuals with significant disabilities, highlights three critical processes for success: Facilitated Exploration, Team-Based Business Planning, and Business Plan Implementation and Follow-Along. The Wisconsin Customized Self-Employment Toolkit highlights the need for a team approach and the availability of on-going supports.