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So, you graduate from
high school … what’s next? That
is the question most students ask and their parents contemplate
for most of their child’s high school years. It was no
different for Peggy when her son Nick graduated with his certificate
from High School in June of 2001.
Nick was shy and quiet.
He carried a label of autism with mild developmental delays which
you may think could limit his answer
to “what’s next?” But, Nick had a lot of interests
and had worked for three years as a student worker in the main
office at his high school. So Nick’s mother, Peggy, was determined
to help Nick explore his interests and options within his community.
Peggy started Bridges
of Indiana, in August of 2000, to provide home and community
based services for Nick and a small group of
other families. Peggy’s concept grew and the organization
flourished. Peggy’s vision took her to a conference where
the idea of self-employment for people with disabilities was presented
by David Hammis, Senior Partner of Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC.
Having already started her own business, Peggy was very aware
of all that would be required for Nick to start his own business
and was encouraged by the additional resources that may be available
Nick had been working as a volunteer for a variety of businesses
in the community since graduation. Wanting to help Nick recognize
the value of earning money for the work he does, Peggy and Nick
decided to look at self-employment.
With the assistance
of his mother, David Hammis, friends and family, Nick wrote a
business plan with three years of detailed projections
to start his own copy service. The business plan called for Nick’s
Copy Service to be a business within a business. It would be located
within the same building as Bridges of Indiana, but the space available
would need to be remodeled to be usable.
All together, it was
anticipated that Nick’s Copy Service
would need over $24,000 to get started.
members were willing to loan him almost $6,300 to remodel the
office space, and renovate the heating, air conditioning
and install a dedicated circuit for electrical power.
After working with David Hammis in writing a Plan for Achieving
Self Support (PASS) through Social Security (see the Rural Institute
site www.passplan.org for examples), Nick only needed to borrow
slightly less than $4,000 from his family members. This loan was
scheduled to be paid off by November of the following year.
PASS is a Social Security,
SSI (Supplemental Security Income) work incentive under which
persons with disabilities can set aside
income and/or resources to be used to achieve specific work goals.
By setting aside initially $267 per month of his Net Earnings from
Self Employment (NESE) and later $803 NESE, Nick was able to secure
$10,692 of funding from Social Security to be used in his business.
Nick’s PASS would run for 18 months and would ultimately
result in the elimination of his SSI cash benefits, but he would
remain eligible for 1619(b) status under Medicaid.
Nick used his PASS to pay for the remaining remodel costs, office
space rent for 11 months, telephone and internet installation and
service for 12 months, and business liability insurance for 2 years.
Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation
Services was also approached to assist in purchasing items needed
to start Nick’s Copy
Service. After reviewing Nick’s business plan and projections,
they agreed to fund over $18,000 in equipment. This was a first
for Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Nick was the first
business owner to receive this type of extensive financial support
to start a business. Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services
funded equipment to include:
Digital Copy System
Total Care Service Plan/Copy System
Shredder and Annual Maintenance Agreement
Desk Top Folder/Inserter and Annual Maintenance Agreement
Computer and Monitor
Color/BW Printer for Computer
Supply of 5 Ink Cartridges for Printer
10 Cartons of White Paper
Miscellaneous Office Supplies
And finally, Nick used $400 from his personal savings to pay for
his 1st month of business operating expenses.
It has been almost a
year since Nick’s Copy Service opened
for business and his chosen career has lead down the bumpy road
of success. Nick’s Copy Service was designed to provide copying,
shredding and general office supplies to local businesses.
No, Nick is not a millionaire (yet), but he is making a profit,
profits are increasing every month, and he enjoys his work.
There have been some set-backs and Nick may not have hit all of
his projected sales goals, but he has a devoted advocate who has
supported him through the tough times and is committed to achieving
Each month, Nick produces Board of Directors packets for the Local
Junior League, as well as a local Golf Newsletter. Another unexpected
customer was a local County Emergency Medical Service Company who
needed a very large order completed quickly and accurately. All
hands were on deck to help get this order out. All 3000 + pieces
were carefully copied and sorted. After the order was completed
and reviewed by the customer, Nick received a call to prepare him
for an even large order to come.
Nick’s understanding and appreciation of the value of money
has started to form. Peggy helped Nick apply for and receive a
credit card this year to make ordering supplies easier. The card
is in both Nick’s Copy Service and Nick’s name. Nick
likes to shop, particularly on the internet. With credit card in
hand, Nick has been able to connect making copies, “working”,
with being able to order and receive videos and books in the mail.
And just as important, he pays the bills.
Nick has had a variety of assistants through the year. Some good.
Some not so good. But this has been a real learning experience.
By using the business within a business model to their advantage,
Nick and Peggy have worked through processes and procedures for
invoices, billing, deposits, and the other necessities of running
a business. As far as running the business, Nick will ask you to
step aside. He knows the mechanics of his machines.
In April of this year,
Bridges of Indiana had outgrown their business space and located
another building. To the advantage of both businesses,
this building had two store fronts and two addresses. Though still
a business within a business, Nick’s Copy Service has its
own store front, signage, and address. The new location being on
a busy street has provided additional visibility and has contributed
to the continued growth in sales. When customers walk through the
door of “Nick’s Copy Service,” they are greeted
by Nick sitting behind the counter.
In the process of remodeling
the new office space, the installation tech who ran the wires
suggested installing a cable to connect
Nick’s computer directly into his copier. At a minimal expense,
the cable was installed. But, when it came to investigating what
else was needed to make this work, they found it would also require
a $1,700 piece of software. At his current sales level, that seemed
like an impossibility.
surprise and excitement, that very month, Nick’s counselor
from Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services called to see
how Nick was doing. She asked if there was anything
else he might need. Peggy about fell out of her chair. Yes, a $1,700
piece of software please. Nick’s counselor agreed.
With the cable and software, Nick can now receive documents by
e-mail and send them directly to his copier for fine, clear copies
Nick a year ago was shy and quiet, volunteering at local companies,
not making any money.
Nick today is a business
owner in his local community, pays taxes, is developing a strong
customer and supplier network (relationships),
and Nick’s mother is the first to tell you, “Nick is
making money, he is really enjoying himself. You can tell he feels
he has a purpose for leaving the house in the morning, and the
business is growing slowly but surely.”
Produced in collaboration with Bridges of Indiana (www.bridgesofindiana.com)
and Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC (www.griffinhammis.com).
The processes and techniques used to assist Nick were developed
in-whole or in-part with the Rural Institute.
Nick's Copy Service Video, click HERE
Nick's Copy Service Pass Plan (PDF)
Nick's Copy Service Business Plan (PDF)
Nick's Copy Service Cash Flow (PDF)
Nick's Copy Service Cash Flow without a Pass Plan (PDF)