Redefining Disability with Hannah Olson

Brian Thompson chats with Hannah Olson, an advocate for people with disabilities and co-founder and CEO of Chronically Capable and Disclo. Through her companies, Hannah helps people with disabilities navigate their careers and companies manage employee health disclosures and accommodation requests.

On the episode, Hannah discusses why she chose entrepreneurship after her aggressive treatment schedule for Lyme disease resulted in her having to leave her dream job. She also shares advice she received while fundraising and why disabilities are something to be celebrated.

Episode Highlights

The mission is at the center of mission-driven businesses.

Hannah describes a mission-driven business as one that puts its mission at the center of everything it does. At her companies, she goes one step further by hiring people who are also centered around the mission of empowering and employing people with disabilities and chronic conditions.

“It’s less about the excitement of the business, but more so, at the end of the day, who are we helping? Who are we serving?” Hannah said.

One business idea can lead to another.

In May 2019, Hannah and her co-founder launched their first venture, Chronically Capable, to help people with disabilities and chronic conditions connect with inclusive employers. The company grew quickly, but as it did, Hannah learned about an unmet and unique need for HR professionals to manage employees’ health conditions and accommodation requests in safely and privately.

Hannah and her co-founder quickly realized they could turn that need into a business opportunity. They raised funding and launched their second venture, Disclo, in May 2022. Disclo takes the mission of Chronically Capable one step further by bringing compliance tools to HR managers.

“We initially thought the problem was just being able to find a job and an employer who cared, but we realized there was a much, much bigger problem because if you get the job, how are you going to keep the job?” Hannah said. “But when it comes to compliance, it’s not a nice-to-have anymore; it’s a must have.”

Sleep is a key business strategy.

The entrepreneur culture espouses the value of hustle, but Hannah pointed out that you can’t hustle hard without adequate sleep. That’s why she said sleep is the foremost business strategy she has to share with listeners.

“Sleep is so important for anyone, but especially for me as someone who has been recovering from a very, very bad illness and also as someone running a business,” Hannah said. “This hustle culture has this mentality that we have to be working, and the times you’re not working, you’re not doing anything. But if you don’t sleep, you’re not going to work well the next day.”

Learn from no.

When Hannah was raising funding for Disclo, she received about 120 rejections. After the first few, she took the advice of a friend to ask people who said no either to provide feedback she could use to adapt and change or to introduce her to three other people.

“I started adopting that practice and I learned so much in a very short time,” Hannah said. “I was able to fundraise very, very quickly. In a month we went from not having any luck to people knocking at the door.”

Resources + Links

About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast 

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.