Here are some of our Frequently Asked Questions…
1. What is Microenterprise?
Answer: Microenterprise is defined as a business with no more than five employees and start up costs of $35,000 or less. The Abilities Fund works specifically with individuals interested in starting or expanding a microenterprise. We assist business owners with capital needs below $35,000.
2. Will I need a business plan?
Answer: YES. Every business owner needs a business plan. When possible, we refer clients to organizations located in their own communities so they can receive direct assistance developing their business plan. When referal is not an option, we can assist you over the phone and through email communications.
3. I am a client of Vocational Rehabilitation, what should I do?
Answer: Talk to your counselor and express your interest in self employment. Work with your counselor to understand exactly what resources are available to assist you. If you are still interested in business ownership after meeting with your counselor, contact The Abilities Fund to let us know how you plan to proceed and how we can assist.
4. What impact does self employment have on my Social Security benefits?
Answer: Your SSI and SSDI benefits will be affected when your business begins to make a net profit. Check out the Social Security Administration website to learn more.
We strongly encourage you to use the services of a Social Security Administration (SSA) certified benefits planner as you develop your business plan. A benefits planner can help you better understand exactly what will happen to your benefits payment after opening a business and determine if a SSA work incentive is the right option for you.
Learn more about SSA work incentives on their website.
5. How much does your help cost?
Answer: The Abilities Fund is a public and privately funded non-profit organization. We are mission-driven, not profit-driven; as a result, our services are available for no cost.
6. How do I get started?
Answer: If you are a client of Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation and would like assistance from The Abilities Fund, please complete the Informed Choices application which you can get from your VR counselor. This provides us with the basic information needed to identify resources that may be able to help you achieve your self employment goals.
If you reside outside of Nebraska or are not a client of Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, please begin with our financial literacy module and continue checking The Abilities Fund website for additional information about the upcoming business planning services and microlending program.
7. Where is all the free money I have heard about?
Answer: Not even winning the lottery is free — you have to buy a ticket. There simply is not a lot of “free money” available. Grant programs do exist, but keep in mind that all of them are highly competitive and most have restrictions/guidelines that only few qualify for.
It is more realistic that your start up expenses will be covered by small loans, SSA work incentives, personal investment, support from family and friends and/or contributions from vocational rehabilitation.
8. Can you guarantee success?
Answer: There are no guarantees in business. Past credit, management experience and other personal, market, and financial factors may limit your ability to get started or operate successfully. Also, keep in mind that you could lose money by starting a business. Risk is involved and success is never a sure bet.
9. Is the information I submit secure?
Answer: Yes. We use a secure server and you will not receive any cookies or spyware from using any of our resources. None of your information will be sold or shared with any individual, organization or government agency without your expressed consent. The confidential information you provide will help us serve you.
10. Are there any types of business that your organization does not support?
Answer: Yes. As required by select funders, The Abilities Fund will NOT assist in the development of the following businesses:
-Illegal or “under the table” businesses
-Pornographic or illicit businesses
-Real estate development