Can I Start a Business with a Criminal Record?

If you made a mistake in your past, it can haunt you forever. Getting employed with a criminal record is quite challenging, and this is why many people with criminal records opt to start their own businesses. If you have a criminal record, you might have to jump through some hoops and over some huddles before you can start your business. So, how can someone with a criminal record get past this?

Consider the Legal Requirements of Different Businesses

Before you start a business, it is important to know which businesses you can and cannot start when you have a criminal record. A conviction limits your opportunities, which means you cannot hold certain positions or start certain businesses. Some of these businesses include those that deal with dangerous material, medicines, finance, or law. A good rule to follow is to avoid any business where a background check is required or your fingerprints are needed. Your past records will come up in these cases and disqualify you, and there is no need to go through all that. Even if your conviction had nothing to do with these industries, you will not be able to start a business that pertains to them. Although you are likely not one of them, these laws are put in place to protect people from repeat offenders.

It is also important to know which licenses and permits you can get. Certain licenses and permits are required to operate certain businesses, and if you cannot get them because of your criminal record, you will not be able to operate those businesses.

Consider a Partner

One of the most challenging parts of running a business with a criminal record is finding funding for your business. If you have someone who can help you out, that would be the best way to go. If you cannot, you should consider getting a partner.

The ideal partner should not have a criminal record as that increases the chances of getting the financing you need. This might not work for everyone, so it would be a good idea to carefully consider who can help before approaching them.

Be Forthcoming

Although it is harder for someone with a criminal record to get a business loan, that does not mean it is impossible. Since you expect background checks to show you have a criminal record, it is better to let the institution know these records exist, so they are not surprised when they check up on you and find them. Doing this shows them they can trust you since you were forthcoming. In being transparent, it is important to know what they will find before they find it. You can check your indictment records on so you know what you need to disclose. Public Records Reviews provides different types of publicly-available information, including indictment records, criminal records, and many others.

It is also important that you demonstrate how you have changed and that you are not the person you used to be. After all, starting a new business venture shows you have let go of your past and are moving forward.

Consider a Different Business Structure

If you cannot find funding and cannot get a partner to do it for you, you should try to structure your business differently. Some of the options available include establishing a Small Business Corporation (S-corp) or a C-corp. Both of these give you some corporate protection. Separating yourself from a business like this opens up opportunities to get financing from lenders who might feel comfortable lending to your business, but not to you personally. Just keep in mind that corporations are expensive to start and have some rigorous legal requirements that have to be met before you start one. It is, therefore, a good idea to discuss this with an accountant, a lawyer, or both before starting to see if this is a good option for you.


There are grant programs available for convicts that allow you to get finding with no repayments required. Although these grants do come with some strings attached, they are another option to consider.

Talking to religious leaders, a leader at your past correctional facility, a community official, or another person who might know about these grants will give you a path to follow. Doing an online search for your locality should yield some good results too.

Clean Up Your Record

If you find yourself running into problems, try to clean up your record. Talk to an attorney to find out if your indictment records can be sealed, legally minimized, or expunged. Some states do allow for the removal of criminal records under certain circumstances. While there are some convictions you will not be able to get rid of, such as a bank robbery conviction, something can be done about the records you already have.

One of the most challenging parts about starting a business with a criminal record is finding the financing you need. You might have to get creative or find someone else to stand in your stead. When you do it the right way, there is no reason why you should not be able to start and run a successful business even with a criminal record.

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