Self-Employment Starts with You Survey Now Open!

Are you self-employed? Have you experienced mental health issues? Do you want to help others who want to work for themselves?

 Live & Learn, Inc. is currently recruiting for an online survey.

What is this study about?

The Self-Employment Starts with You Survey (SESY) was developed to learn more about individuals who are self-employed or own a small business, and identify as having a psychiatric history or disability. The survey was designed with input from individuals who meet these criteria and from information gathered from the literature and policy and program experts in self-employment and disabilities. The SESY Survey also benefits from the expertise of our Technical Advisory Panel, including representatives from academia, policy consulting,  technical assistance, and social enterprises operated by people with psychiatric histories.

Who will this research benefit?

We hope the study’s results will expand employment options for those who aspire to work for themselves, and will improve sustainability and growth opportunities for existing enterprises. The research results can facilitate support networks that reduce social isolation among self-employed individuals, and expand knowledge of policies, practices, and technologies to inform business development strategies. Results will be disseminated in public reports, presentations, and journal articles. The survey also provides an opportunity to reflect on your experience!

All respondents will have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win a $25 Visa check card. There will be one winner per week until July 5, 2017. Each individual may only take the survey once during the study period.

Who can take the survey?

  • Self-employed individuals. This means those who work for themselves (including part-time), either independently through an unincorporated business or as an employee of a business that they own.

  • Those who have experienced mental health problems or psychiatric disability. This includes having been diagnosed with a mental illness, using mental health services, or receiving Social Security Disability benefits or ADA accommodations for a psychiatric disability.

  • Adults over 18 years old who live and work in the U.S.

What does the survey ask?

The survey will ask you about: 

  • Your experiences at work and of being self-employed.
  • Supports and resources that you have used at work and in running a business.
  • What you see for the future of your business. 

If you would like to participate, it will take you about 20 minutes to complete the survey. You can leave and come back. Your answers are confidential. Your answers will be combined with others' when we report results.

Why are we doing this research?

There are lot of well-known challenges to being self-employed and running a small business. As reported in the research, there is uncertainty about future income, difficulties in learning and managing all aspects of a business, and social isolation. But there are also benefits: not having a boss, being able to choose, and having a flexible schedule.

There is relatively little research on how these issues may be particularly relevant for people who have experienced mental health problems/psychiatric disability. This is important because researchsuggests that we are employed at a much lower rate than many other segments of the population, even though the majority of people with psychiatric disabilities want to be employed. Self-employment is one avenue to creative and economic independence, but we need more information and attention to potential solutions.

Please direct any questions to the Project Director, Laysha Ostrow, PhD at or 213-373-3850.

Thank you for your participation!