• Post category:Resources
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Starting your own business can be a challenging endeavor, but for individuals with a criminal record, it may seem even more daunting. However, self-employment and entrepreneurship can offer a second chance and a path to success for felons. Here we aim to provide valuable information and insights on how felons can navigate the process of starting their own businesses.

Felons often encounter obstacles in securing employment due to their criminal record, facing rejection and limited opportunities. However, self-employment provides an avenue for felons to bypass these barriers and take control of their professional lives. By becoming their own boss, felons can showcase their skills, talents, and determination directly to clients or customers, without relying on potential employers’ preconceived notions.

1. Overcoming Challenges:

a. Background Checks:

Felons often face difficulties during background checks, hindering their access to employment opportunities. Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with criminal records. Starting a business allows individuals to bypass traditional job applications and create their own opportunities. As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to shape your own destiny and demonstrate your skills and capabilities directly to potential clients or customers.

b. Rehabilitation and Skill Development:

Entrepreneurship can provide a path for felons to rehabilitate themselves and develop marketable skills. By focusing on building their own businesses, individuals can leverage their unique experiences, talents, and perspectives. Starting a business encourages personal growth, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility. It allows felons to channel their energy and creativity into a positive and productive endeavor.

2. Business Ideas for Felons:

a. Identifying Marketable Skills:

Felons can evaluate their skills, passions, and experiences to identify potential business ideas. By identifying marketable skills and aligning them with existing demand, individuals can establish businesses that capitalize on their strengths. Examples include freelancing in fields such as writing, graphic design, or web development, consulting in areas where they possess expertise, starting online businesses, pursuing skilled trades, or exploring creative endeavors like art or crafting.

b. Local Service Businesses:

Establishing service-oriented businesses can provide felons with accessible and in-demand opportunities. Local service businesses, such as lawn care, cleaning services, home repairs, or catering, can be started with relatively low upfront costs and offer flexibility in terms of hours and clients. These types of businesses often rely on word-of-mouth marketing, allowing individuals to showcase their skills and build a reputation within their communities.

3. Legal Considerations:

a. Business Structure:

Choosing the appropriate legal structure for a business is crucial. Options such as sole proprietorship, partnership, or forming a limited liability company (LLC) should be explored, considering liability and tax implications. Consulting with a business attorney or utilizing online resources can help felons understand the legal requirements and make informed decisions about the structure that best suits their business goals.

b. Licensing and Permits:

Felons must familiarize themselves with specific licensing requirements and permits relevant to their chosen industry. Certain businesses may require professional licenses, certifications, or permits to operate legally. Researching local regulations is essential to ensure compliance. Government websites, industry associations, and local business development centers can provide information on the licenses and permits necessary for various business types.

4. Accessing Support and Resources:

a. Reentry Programs and Organizations:

Various reentry programs offer resources, mentorship, and training to felons interested in entrepreneurship. These initiatives can provide valuable guidance throughout the business development process. Organizations such as Defy Ventures, The Last Mile, and The Prison Entrepreneurship Program are dedicated to supporting individuals with criminal records in their entrepreneurial endeavors. They offer entrepreneurship education, business planning assistance, and connections to networks of experienced mentors.

b. Small Business Administration (SBA):

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a valuable resource for aspiring entrepreneurs, including those with criminal records. The SBA offers counseling, training programs, and access to loans through its network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and SCORE mentorship program. These resources can help felons navigate the complexities of starting and managing a business. Additionally, the SBA provides the BusinessUSA website, which offers information on licenses, permits, and regulations specific to each state.

5. Success Stories:

Highlighting inspiring stories of individuals who have successfully established their own businesses after facing criminal convictions can provide motivation and guidance. These success stories serve as examples of hope, resilience, and the transformative power of entrepreneurship. By showcasing individuals who have overcome challenges, built thriving businesses, and made positive contributions to their communities, felons can gain confidence in their own entrepreneurial pursuits.


Starting a business as a felon requires determination, resilience, and careful planning. Despite the challenges, self-employment and entrepreneurship offer an avenue for personal growth, financial independence, and a chance to rewrite one’s narrative. By leveraging available resources, identifying marketable skills, and navigating legal considerations, felons can embark on a fulfilling entrepreneurial journey, reclaiming their lives and making a positive impact on their communities. Through self-employment, individuals can create opportunities for themselves, showcase their talents, and build a prosperous future beyond their criminal records.

If you have a criminal history, ReeCareer can help you set up your new firm and begin your entrepreneurial path. We handle everything for you, from providing you with alternatives for industries in which to launch your business to providing you with all the tools you need to succeed. Contact us immediately.

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