Guide to Setting up and Running a Business in Disability.
It can be a very rewarding career and business!
Congratulations on starting your own business and being a provider to those who need your support.
It's important to have the right understanding of NDIS and the services you are providing, the basics of running a business and how this is more than just going to work with people; there are legal responsibilities of running a business and compliance that ALL Australian businesses are to meet.
I have studied business compliance and quality auditing, I have over 36 years of experience in health and disability, and I have been a business owner for 12 years. I managed a medium-sized NDIS business.
Take your time, download the documents you require and ask questions of the RIGHT people.
Invest in your business now, and it will save you in the future.
Stay within your scope of practice, and remember it's okay to say no!
Be patient. It will take time to grow your business.
Running your own business is both rewarding and challenging. When you have more success than challenges, you are winning!
This guide is designed to make it easier for you to understand the basics of setting up a business in the disability sector when working with people with an NDIS Plan.
Do you know what is required to run a business in Australia with an Australian business number or Australian Company Number?
Did you know that you must abide by Australian Consumer law and what that means for your business?
Answering these questions before you start is important.
Do you understand the NDIS and the terminology they use when discussing a person’s plan and how they decide to fund a person for services such as supports, allied health and so on.
A bit of history...
The NDIS was NEVER set up for businesses to become rich. It was set up to help those who have a disability to be able to be part of the community and access services that can help them either build capacity, potentially get a job or be able to have some quality of life. The goal is to help the person meet the expenses of services they require that if there was no NDIS, they would not be able to afford, which is why the funding is always to be related to their disability, not a holiday or something that every person may do e.g. Yoga, workshops, retreats. Everything is to come back to their disability and have evidence to back that up.
This is NOT my opinion it is the design of the NDIS.
The NDIS has strict criteria for a person to get a plan and the funding and how the funding is to be used, all of that is explained on the NDIS website and they use key words such as: Reasonable and Necessary, Parental Responsibiity and Choice and Control frequently, its important to understand what these words acutally mean in regards to plans and services.
In this guide, we have provided a checklist for your business and some information about why certain things are important.
Take your time to go through each aspect of this guide, and if you are still unsure, you can book a Coaching session with Jacqui.
Book a Coaching session - these sessions are paid - 1 hour
Checklist for your business
Starting a business in disability sector, providing services to a person with a disability, an NDIS Plan requires you to meet the legal and financial responsibilities of the business.
The following is a check list for you to follow:
ABN - Australian Business number
ACN - Australian Company Number
Business insurance - for the services you are providing.
Documents, policies and procedures - these are a legal requirement for your business compliance ( not having them can lead to fines) . These are the foundation of your business.
Bank account - specifically for your business.
NDIS Pricing Arrangement - this is the guide for you invoicing for your services and how to invoice
NDIS code of conduct - you must adhere to this as part of providing services to someone with an NDIS plan
NDIS Practice Standards- understand these as they are an important part to running your business.
Business and financial plan: - know how much it is going to cost you to set up and run your business.
Advertising - Marketing plan: you will have to advertise and attend events for people to know you exist, this cost money and is an investment.
Website or Facebook business page - this helps people find you.
Accountant- to understand your tax, what is claimable, what you have to pay, GST and so on.
HR person if hiring staff.
Reportable Incidents - know what they are and what to do when one occurs.
Ensure you have all the correct forms completed and signed prior to starting shifts.
Maintain privacy and confidentiality at all times.
Have a complaints management system as well as risk and incident management system
All mandatory requirements are met such as first aid, qualifications to provide the services, registration with a governing body such as APHRA, counsellors association and so on based on the services you are providing.
Workcover - you may require to get workcover, especially if you set up as a company or the minute you employ staff.
Staff contracts- if employing staff make sure you have the contracts right
Staff orientation - this is important for all staff.
We have bundled up all the documents, policies and procedures, ebook and how to set up your business in one Ultimate bundle for you.
Yes it does cost over $1300,00 for the documents, policies and procedures set up, the insurance, audits and websites are all on top of that. Our bundle also includes a book on how to set up your business.
When you take the time to set your business up properly from the start and understand what the process is to onboard a participant, then you are setting yourself up for success.
There are a couple of things that people get wrong and then find themselves in trouble:
Do not complete risk assessments, care plans or service agreements.
Each of these is an important aspect of business; identifying risks helps minimise incidents. They are also part of the participant onboarding process.
Do NOT have policies and procedures in place.
Business insurance will not cover you if you do not have these in place as they are your process; they identify how you run your business and deliver your services.
DO NOT understand the NDIS pricing arrangement and how invoicing works before they start with a participant.
If you do not know how to invoice, you cannot quote correctly for the services, and this quote should be in your service agreement the participant sign before the shift starts. Not completing them can leave you open to making mistakes, potential fraud investigation, overcharging, or, at the very least, an enquiry into your invoicing. We have a course on invoicing and setting your prices: Set your Prices and Invoicing short course
While it is okay to ask for clarity on social media it is not a good idea to ask to advice there on how to invoice, that information is in the pricing arrangement on the NDIS website and it is updated frequently.
In this article we have provided a few Key links that are important and some important aspects for running a business that are important to adhere to for safeguarding yourself, your business and the person you are providing the services to.
We have also included different topic such as:
Code of Conduct
What ever services you are choosing to provide as part of your business, know your scope of practice and check if these services can be paid for with NDIS funds, not everything is.
The process is long and is not required at this moment in time for everyone, however it all depends on the services you are providing and how the plan funds are managed.
Plan managers do require to be registered.
Moving forward all Support coordinators will have to have access to PACE as the rollout continues as that is how referrals will be made to the support coordinators.
We have a course and can assist with NDIS registration, we actually work with you and do not do it FOR you.
It can be expensive by the time you pay for everything so it's important to know what is require before you start and be aware of Conflict of Interest.
You can start with the course and then book in for an internal audit and coaching if you like or book a call and start with us.
Setting up your business does cost money!
Its important to accept that setting your business up will be an investment and that this is a legal requirement to meet Australian consumer law. If you listen to other people who tell you, you only need a service agreement and you are audited or a complaint is made and both do occur, stating you didn’t know will not stop you being issued with fines or worse case shut down completely.
Spending the time and money now will save you in you in the long run.
Everyone deserves the best and to be treated with respect!
Business Set Up for Success
Business, Marketing and Financial plan
A business plan includes you plans for your business.
Sure it may feel like you don’t need one however a good business plan helps you to know what your business requires to grow, what action for you to take to onboard participants and were appropriate staff.
As part of a business plan a SWOT analysis is important as it identifies you strengths and weakness of yourself and your business. It helps you to identify your competitors and also how you are different to them, what makes you stand out.
Risk Assessments and Management
Your business holds risks as do the services you provide.
Are you able to identify the risks for yourself, your business and your clients, and where appropriate your staff?
Take the time it identify potential risk and always complete a risk assessment and have a plan in place as required.
Your policies and procedures will support this also.
Remember that even as a sole trader if an incident occurs you do need to record it and work out how you can improve.
Duty of care is an important part of your business.
What does duty of care mean to you?
When it comes to running a business even as a sole trader you have a duty of care to your business, yourself, the people you are providing your service to and if you employ staff them.
Duty of care looks different for every business and its important to define what your responsibilities are morally, ethically and legally and then implement your policies and procedures to ensure that you are meeting all of them
To do regular assessments and up date things as things change both legislation wise and with NDIS.
Documentation is an integral part of your business.
Completing care plans and shift notes is essential as this protects you if anything goes wrong.
If an incident occurs or a complaint is made, the investigation can take months, and if you didn’t document anything, you only rely on your memory. This can be problematic, especially if it is six months down the track; you will not remember everything.
Confidentiality and Privacy
As a business owner, it is essential to maintain privacy and confidentiality; if you have staff, they do that, too.
Anything you post on social media, including in messages, can breach confidentiality.
If you require assistance in your business, you choose carefully where you ask questions, as social media gets hacked and then information is shared. Please ensure all your business documents are kept in a secure place that limited people can access.
Remember that this is your business and whilst asking questions on social media can be useful the decisions is yours and the legal responsibility is yours.
It can be worth investing in coaching sessions, working with a consultant who is about empowering you, honest with you and is there for the long haul.
Grow Your Business
When it comes to growing your business it is about attracting your ideal client. Being where they will see you and where you can show who you are as a person and a business.
Advertising can be great in the right places, where that person, magazine or podcast has trust.
Sharing posts constantly about your business will eventually not be seen as people respond to interactions.
Networking events are also great as you can often build relationships that help you to be referred to by other providers.
Confict of Interest
Many people when it comes to setting up a business in disability do not realise about Conflict of Interest. It is important to understand this properly. In simply language it is important that you are not attempting to be the one stop business for all services as you will then find yourself with a massive conflict of interest.
The participant or person with the plan must always be empowered to choose who provides which services, however in reality what often happens is that they are felt pressured to be with one company.
If all their services are with one company and some thing goes wrong they are not always assured they will have the support they require especially if they ned to make a change.
It is always best that Support coordination stays seperate to support workers, this way there is always an unbias party involved. this is just one example of where there is a conflict of interest.
Know your scope of practice!
Many participants have been injured because someone decided that they could do something when they really had no idea and no qualifications, the staff member didn't want to say no or miss out on an income.
Whether you are employeed as a staff member, sole trader or business owner, staying within your qualifications and skill set is extremely important
If you are looking to hire staff, you need to ensure they are qualified and have the skills to provide the service and then pay them in accordance with the SCHADS award.
It is important to have in place professional boundaries.
It can be easy to become friendly with your clients/participants especially when working with them a few days a week, there is definitely a connection that develops, however at the end of the day you are being paid to be there and provide a service, to have a work life balance.
When you do not have healthy boundaries you WILL become burnt out.
By keeping everything professional you will find that it is easier if you want to take holidays or have a family emergency, once those lines are crossed it is hard to get the professional boundaries back.
Contacting someone during the night or early hours morning via facebook is NOT okay, it is intruding on time off. Having an expectaton that services are free or at a very low price is not okay.
Remember that professional boundaries are a sign of respect and every business own deserves to be paid for their services and to have time off and not be contacted 24 hours unelss they are 000 then of course that is okay :)
Invoicing and Setting your Prices
When it comes to invoicing it is a discussing with the participant and using the knowledge that is in the NDIS pricing arrangement guide.
The person you are providing the services to has the right to either agree or disagree with the price that you mention.
Once you have the price set, you then put the quote for service in the service agreement and that is signed prior to starting with the participant.
Many people do not do this and then finde their invoices are rejected. There are a number of reasons why invoices are rejected and if you are assuming you will be paid the maximum you may find that you are disappointed when the participant doesnt have enough funding for that.
Code of Conduct there are two the one for your business and the one that is NDIS code of conduct. It is important that you understand both, that you have your own that is part of your business process, especially if looking to hire staff.
Your business will have lots of time of activity and times of being quiet and this is normal.
Be patient and clear with what you will do and understand NDIS guidelines and Australian Consumer Law, I cannot stress this enough!
How we at Break Free Consultancy Can Support you!
We work WITH you and believe it’s about teaching, not doing it for you.
Documents, Policies and Procedures bundles ready for you; add your business details when ready.
Coaching - we offer empowerment coaching to help you understand your business and build your skills
Courses - we have a variety of courses you can enrol in at any time, and they have access for different periods, depending on the course.
Internal audits, gap analysis- we take a look at what process you have in place and then help you to know where you can improve, perfect pre-external audit
Networking Events - we run multiple events each month and these are great way of connecting with others.
Advertise in Connect and Grow Magazine - we have opportunity for business to pay to be listed in the Magazine which is online and downloadable version.
We would love to support you and your business.
You can find our courses:
Scroll through as there is a lot of choices
You can book a discovery call here:
Documents, policies and procedures here:
Scroll through there are a lot of choices
1 hour Coaching session Here:
Advertise your business with us apply here:
Connect and Grow Events:
All information is accurate at time of publication.
It is subject to change as the NDIS and legislation changes
(C) 2023 Break Free Consultancy
Copying and reproducing of our content ( not NDIS information) is prohibited
Disclaimer: All information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to change as the industry and legislation changes. All operations of individual business’ is the legal and financial responsibilities of that business. Always seek information from a qualified professional. Information contained here is for general use only and does not take into account individual requirements.