Workbook Guides Non-Profits on How to be Entrepreneurial
A new publication—a joint project of the New York State Small Business Development Center, and the CIL Management Center—shows not-for-profits how to think entrepreneurially. The workbook is called Being Entrepreneurial: A Business Guide for CILs

The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are a national network of not-for-profit organizations that work with people with disabilities so they become self-sufficient and live independently in their communities.

“There are times when not-for-profit entities need to think about the bottom line,” says Jim King, State Director of the New York State Small Business Development Center (NYS/SBDC). “Sometimes, the profit motive can improve operations and place not-for-profits in a better, stronger position to achieve their mission. This workbook explains entrepreneurship to people who don’t usually think of profitability every day of the week, as a small business must.”

The principles contained in the book were successfully applied at CILs in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia. In Pennsylvania, for example, the CIL considered purchasing the building it leased, establishing itself as a tenant/owner, and subletting extra space to other tenants. While a sound business case, this didn’t fit well with the CIL’s mission and was not adopted. A Minnesota CIL got involved in a business that produced pre-fabricated ramps designed to meet ADA accessibility codes. This project was identified as having great long-term business potential and direct relevance to the CIL’s mission. This win-win project was adopted.

At special training events conducted by the SBDC and sponsored by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living Management, CIL directors broadened their understanding of implementing and successfully operating a for-profit venture within the CIL structure. A for-profit component can strengthen the CIL (and other non-profits) and help supplement their public support. These training events provided the basis for the workbook. Copies of the workbook are being distributed to CILs nationwide, and to the national network of SBDC Regional Centers.

The NYS/SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, with matching funds from the State of New York (SUNY). It is administered by the State University of New York. At 23 SBDC Regional Centers conveniently located across New York on SUNY campuses and the campuses of SUNY’s educational partners, New Yorkers receive assistance in starting a business or improving the performance of an existing business.

Independent Living Centers may contact for more information. The CIL Management Center is a member of the Western New York Independent Living Project family of agencies.

For more information on the workbook, and on the SBDC, visit the SBDC’s Web site:

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