Can you become an entrepreneur if you have a criminal record? We answer these questions here…
With The Great Resignation still sweeping the globe, more and more people are choosing to throw off the shackles of the 9 to 5 and strike out in business for themselves. In the digital age, it’s never been easier to set up a business or start working for yourself, and, depending on your profession, you may not even need much in the way of startup funds.
While you may have the talent and motivation to start out on your own, there may be other factors to take into consideration. Specifically, if you’ve been involved in a crime, sought the help of criminal defense solicitors, and been prosecuted with a criminal record, can you become an entrepreneur? We explore this question here…
What is a Criminal Record?
A criminal record (also known as a rap sheet) is a record of your history of criminal activity and includes any convictions you may have had for a wide range of crimes. While some crimes have an expiry period, after which they are expunged from your records, other more serious crimes will remain – some forever.
In some cases, you can contact the police directly to ask for your criminal record to be expunged. However, you will normally need a really compelling reason in order to be successful with this.
What Are the Consequences of Having a Criminal Record?
In some cases, a criminal record will have very few consequences and will be dismissed at the end of the expiry period. However, in some circumstances, it may impose a limit on certain activities, for example:
- Employment: while many people with a criminal record are able to secure work, they may be unable to find jobs working within certain sectors including law, childcare, and healthcare.
- Finance: depending on the severity of your criminal record and the time which has passed since your most recent conviction, you may be declined when applying for financial products such as mortgages and loans. Although more difficult, you may still be able to gain funding by providing a guarantor. You may also experience difficulty when attempting to open a business bank account in some circumstances.
- Travel: some countries, such as Australia, have very strict rules when it comes to criminal records, and may bar entry to travelers whose convictions are very severe or very recent.
Can you become an Entrepreneur with a Criminal Record?
The answer to this question is yes and no – although it’s certainly not impossible to become an entrepreneur with a criminal record, there are a few things to keep in mind and, some of these are:
Starting a Business in the Legal and Medical Fields
Although you may be qualified to run a business or work for yourself within the legal and medical fields, your criminal record may prohibit this. In some cases, your license to practice such activities may have been revoked due to your criminal behavior. If this is the case, you may need to consult with the governing body of your profession to find out what your rights and exemptions are.
In a lot of cases, a new business requires third-party funding in order to get it off the ground; usually from a bank or other lending organization. Unfortunately, a lot of financial institutions will be reluctant to lend to somebody with a criminal record – particularly if the criminal convictions involved finance such as, for example, fraud.
Quite often, a new business requires the business owner to travel internationally in order to attend meetings, conferences, and other events. As a number of countries do restrict access to those with a history of criminality, you may find that you’re either unable to travel to these events, or that you’ll have to apply for a special visa that takes your convictions into account.
Clients and Collaboration
Although you don’t have to disclose your convictions by law to clients and potential partners, honesty is usually considered to be the best policy.
Some people may, of course, be reluctant to enter into a business arrangement with somebody who has a criminal record. So, it’s a good idea to be ready with any information which may explain extenuating circumstances. If they find out, further down the road, there can be a loss of trust.
It’s Not Impossible to Become an Entrepreneur with a Criminal Record
Although this may sound all doom and gloom, it’s not all bad news. If you’re determined to follow your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, you may be able to get help from an organization that specializes in helping those with criminal records bounce back.
Organizations such as Inmatesto Entrepreneurs can be really helpful in giving you some great advice and mentorship and setting you on the right path for your new business.
Similarly, you might consider putting a positive spin on your criminal record by establishing a policy of employing others in a similar position; thereby setting yourself up as a force for good within your community.
Having a criminal record can be problematic but it doesn’t have to spell an end to your entrepreneurial plans. The way the law is designed reflects the fact that, except in severe cases, most people believe that offenders deserve a second chance. Because of this, you may find that people are more understanding than you might think – and that there’s more help out there for you than you had expected.
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