Yes, a felon can start a business in the United States because no Federal or state law prevents a felon from starting, buying, or owning a business. But it is important to note that in the United States, a felon may be prohibited from owning some specific or sensitive businesses based on the type of business and the requirements for licensing.
The only reason why it may be difficult for a felon to start a business in the United States is that a felon may not be able to obtain a surety bond, and a surety bond is a type of insurance policy that protects customers. For example, a plumber, contractor, mortgage provider, and auto dealer in many states require a surety bond to be in business.
For example, in Florida, an applicant who has committed a felony of the first degree, a capital felony, a felony involving money laundering, embezzlement, or a felony directly related to the financial services industry is permanently barred from licensure.
This is why it is advised that a felon talk with an attorney for advice on how to proceed with owning a business. Having said that, here are 50 business ideas that an ex-felon can start in the United States of America.
50 Best Business Ideas for Ex-Felons to Start and Make Money
Table of Content
- BBQ Food Truck
- Open a BBQ Stand/Kiosk
- Start a Pet Sitting Business
- Become a Professional Makeup Artist
- Open a Tattoo Parlor
- Start a Mobile Hair Salon Business
- Start a Teeth Whitening Business
- Start a Beauty Booth Rental Salon Business
- Bicycle Dealership Shop Business
- Start Medical Waste Disposal Business
- Start Fishing Vessels and Boats Servicing and Repair Business
- Boat Cleaning Business
- Online Boutique Store
- Custom Cake Business
- Open Electronics Repair Shop
- Essential Oil Extraction Business
- Frozen Custard Shop
- Open a Gift Shop
- Open a Barber’s Shop
- Landscaping and Lawn Care Business
- Handyman (Plumbing) Services
- Open a Cigar Lounge
- Open a Coffee Café
- Start a Car Leather Repair Business
- Start Dog Training Business
- Open a Frozen Food Store
- Open a Gourmet Shop
- Start a Graffiti Removal Business
- Open a Juice and Smoothie Bar
- Start a Party Rental Business
- Start a Pest Control Business
- Start Scrap Metal Recycling Business
- Open a Car Wash
- Open a Cocktail Bar
- Open a Gift Shop
- Start a Dryer Vent Cleaning Business
- Start a Laser Engraving Business
- Open a Bridal Shop
- Start a Driving School
- Start Homemade Chocolate Retail Business
- Start a Cargo Van Delivery Business
- Open a Halloween Consignment Shop
- Start a Monogramming Business
- Start a Resale Business
- Start Hardwood Flooring Installation Business
- Open a Botanical Store
- Dunk Tank Rental Business
- Go into House Painting Business
- Open a Flower Shop
- Water Restoration Business
BBQ Food Truck
One of the business ideas that an ex-felon can successfully start in any city in the United States of America is the BBQ food truck business. The BBQ food truck business concept is gaining more ground in the United States and they are known to sell beef, chicken, turkey, bacon, pork, fish, corn, et al.
Open a BBQ Stand/Kiosk
As an ex-felon, if you don’t have the required money to start a BBQ truck business or a barbecue restaurant, you can successfully start a BBQ stand or kiosk business with very minimal start-up capital. The capital you would need is to purchase a BBQ stand, ingredients, and supplies. One good thing about this type of business is that you can start on a street corner or in any location such as parks, sports arenas, event centers, campsites, beaches et al.
A pet sitting business, no doubt is another lucrative business an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States of America. Pet sitting is all about taking care of pets on a temporal basis because their owners are away.
This is one industry that has continued to yield profits because of the lucrative nature of the business. Hence, if you have a penchant for pets and are looking for a smart way to make good money from your passion, then you may want to consider delving into pet sitting.
Become a Professional Makeup Artist
Makeup artists are experts in making use of makeup to enhance the beauty and facial appearance of their clients. It could be for a wedding ceremony, public or private events, photoshoots, theater performances, modeling, television production, and for personal purposes as requested by the client.
You can learn makeup artistry at beauty schools scattered all across the United States and also you can work as an intern in a well–established makeup artist studio or beauty spa around you.
Open a Tattoo Parlor
A tattoo artist is an individual who applies permanent decorative tattoos, often in an established business called a “tattoo shop”, “tattoo studio” or “tattoo parlor”. Tattoo artists usually learn their craft via an apprenticeship under a trained and experienced mentor.
Tattoo parlors offer services such as designing customized tattoos, providing body piercings, predesigning tattoos, maintaining aftercare tattoo services, administering permanent makeup tattoos, and laser tattoo-removal services et al.
Start a Mobile Hair Salon Business
The mobile hair salon business eliminates the need for a physical business location, therefore limiting start-up costs considerably. An aspiring entrepreneur can successfully start a mobile hair salon business with inexpensive supplies and tools and grow as the needs arise.
As a mobile hairstylist, you will perform your jobs in customers’ homes, hotels, hostels, campgrounds, and any private location, giving you the advantage of visibility for marketing purposes.
Another business that an ex-felon can successfully start is a teeth whitening business. Trust me, one will not be said to be beautiful if they don’t have a good set of teeth hence the reasons why people are ready to spend a fortune in making sure that their teeth are white and presentable.
For example, a take-home whitening kit can cost an average of $610 and professional in-chair whitening can cost up to $260 a tooth. Please note that aside from the fact that you can offer services that revolve around helping your clients whiten their teeth, you can also retail teeth whitening products.
Start a Beauty Booth Rental Salon Business
Another thriving and highly profitable business that an ex-felon can successfully start is a beauty booth rental salon business. Their responsibility is to lease space to hairstylists, barbers, and similar businesses who may not want to shoulder the responsibilities of owning a standard salon facility.
The booth rental method simplifies the financial aspect of owning a salon. All you need to do to run this business is to provide the space and charge each beauty stylist a set amount for rent.
Bicycle Dealership Shop Business
No doubt, there are businesses that an ex-felon with little schooling, little training, and no serious business background can start. One of such businesses is to open a bicycle dealership shop. The basic things you would need to have in place in this type of business is a good location, easy access to wholesale supply of bicycles and bicycle spare parts, and good customer service skill.
Generally, if your shop is located in an area with good human and vehicular traffic, and you have stock of different types and sizes of bicycles from different brands, you may not have to struggle to get people to visit your shop and make purchases.
Another thriving business that an ex-felon can successfully start is a medical waste disposal business. A medical waste disposal company is a business that disposes of medical waste from hospitals, laboratories, diagnostic centers et al, and this waste can be harmful to humans if not properly disposed of.
Start Fishing Vessels and Boats Servicing and Repair Business
The fact that fishing vessels and boats are usually subjected to wear and tear makes fishing vessels and boat repairing businesses a viable business that can be started in a fishing community. As an ex-felon, if you have an engineering background and you are looking toward starting a boat-related business, then one of your options is to open a business that specifically repairs, services, and maintains fishing vessels and boats.
Boat Cleaning Business
Have you ever thought of how boats get cleaned? Of course, there are cleaning companies that are specialized in cleaning boats. The truth is that a boat cleaning business in the United States of America is easy to set up a business and it is indeed a profitable business venture especially if you locate the business in a riverine area where residents make use of boats.
In general, starting a boat cleaning business requires low start-up capital, and you can be rest assured to attract loads of customers if you know how to deliver excellent jobs.
Online Boutique Store
It is no longer news that businesses all over the world are no longer relying on brick and mortar stores to sell their products or services; they are now maximizing the internet to reach out to clients far beyond the location where their businesses are situated. The boutiques and retail clothing industry are one of the major beneficiaries of the internet.
If you visit the internet, you will discover countless online boutique stores that are retailing different labels and styles of clothes and fashion accessories at a price that is most often cheaper than what you can get from conventional offline boutique clothing stores.
Custom Cake Business
Come to think of it, as an ex-felon, if you are a baker or even a caterer, it is easier for you to venture into the custom cake business. This is so because the same ingredients and processes that are used in making conventional cakes are the same ingredients and processes used in making custom cakes.
One thing about a custom cake-making business is that it is your creativity that can stand you out from your competitors. No doubt, people that are into custom cake making are very creative. This is why you can come across funnel cakes in different shapes, designs, and flavors.
Open Electronics Repair Shop
An electronics repair shop is another money-spinning business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States of America. One good thing about this type of business is that you can learn technical skills from someone who is already in the business or from a technical school.
All you need to do is to rent a shop in a good location and then set up your shop and advertise your electronics repair business. If you are lucky to be one of the few electronic repair technicians in your community, you will surely make good money from this type of business.
Essential Oil Extraction Business
Another thriving business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States of America is the essential oil extraction business. The fact that this line of business is not very popular means that you must be willing to undertake thorough feasibility studies and market research. It is indeed a money-spinning business if you can create a robust distribution network.
Frozen Custard Shop
As an ex-felon, if you are interested in starting a business in the US, then you should consider opening a frozen custard shop. Frozen custard is a cold dessert just like your usual ice cream, but it is made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.
It is usually kept at a warmer temperature compared to ice cream and typically has a denser consistency. Both ice cream and frozen custard are made with milk, cream, and sugar. There is no major difference in ingredients and the machine used to make the frozen dessert and ice cream.
Open a Gift Shop
A gift shop is an ideal business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States. The gift shop retails a range of gifts, gift wrap, novelty merchandise, souvenirs, greeting cards, party supplies, and seasonal and holiday decorations. One good thing about this type of business is that you don’t need to enroll in a conventional school to learn how to start and run this business.
Open a Barber’s Shop
A barbershop is one easy-to-start business an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States of America. The barbershop business will continue to blossom because people will always go to barber shops to have a haircut. Please note that if you have plans of becoming a barber and opening a barbershop in the United States, then you are expected to undergo a barbers’ training.
There are several means of getting trained as a barber. If you are in the United States of America you are expected to attend a “Barber School”. Besides, most states in the U.S require a barber to possess a license before they can be allowed to practice barbering professionally.
Landscaping and Lawn Care Business
Landscaping and lawn care business is one of the businesses an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States of America; it is an avenue to generate income especially if you already have a lawnmower, and other tools and landscaping skills.
Any ex-felon who intends to start his or her landscaping and lawn care business and make huge profits from it must be very creative and must go the extra mile to convince clients that he or she can deliver an excellent job.
Handyman (Plumbing) Services
A handyman business is yet another business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States. A handyman business provides a wide range of services needed for the maintenance of buildings and properties. The services provided by a handyman include plumbing, electrical works, carpentry, painting, heating, and cooling services, and other property maintenance and repair works.
To set up your handyman business, you need to be familiar with different kinds of trades as this is an important factor that can enable you to get jobs. To succeed in the business, you should try as much as possible not to reject jobs from clients. Doing the small jobs is what often opens the way for you as a handyman with your clients. When they have bigger jobs, they will remember you.
Open a Cigar Lounge
A cigar lounge is yet another small-scale business that an ex-felon can successfully start. A cigar lounge or cigar bar is a place where smokers go to buy their preferred cigar brand and smoke freely without the fear of being embarrassed, arrested, or fined.
You might agree that it is now illegal to smoke in public places. The World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with Governments of various Countries are clamping down on smoking in public places in a bid to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of smoking.
Open a Coffee Café
The coffee café business is one of the small-scale businesses that an ex-felon can successfully start on the corner of a busy street without breaking the bank for cash. Coffee cafés or shops can be located in any part of town as long as people live or work there.
Generally, coffee cafés or shops are located in airports, seaports, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, railway stations, bus stations, campuses, hospital lobbies, sports centers, and any public facilities as long as you are permitted to locate your coffee café there. On the other hand, if you operate a mobile coffee shop, then there won’t be any restrictions on the places you can sell your coffee.
Start a Car Leather Repair Business
A car leather repair shop is another money-spinning business that an ex-felon can successfully start. Most cars usually come with leather interiors and when these leather interiors are exposed to sun or heat, there is the tendency for the leather to rip off, tear & cut, have scuffs & scratches, etc, hence the need for the services of a car leather repair shop.
Start Dog Training Business
Another thriving business that an ex-felon can successfully start is the dog training business. Becoming a dog trainer isn’t so much of a huge task, as it does not require that you get a certification.
All that is required of you is a love for animals, as well as having the skills to train dogs in various skill sets. It is very enjoyable to start a dog training business because it establishes a relationship between you and the dog and in the long run you smile to the bank.
A frozen food store is a retail outlet where different frozen foods are sold. It is a business that can be started in any location as long as you have the drive for the business. A frozen food store is a very easy business to start and it is not so capital intensive.
Getting the right products that people want to buy is the secret of running a frozen food store. A frozen food store can be run offline in the conventional retail store or online on an online e-commerce retail site.
Gourmet popcorn shops can be located in any part of town as long as there are children and even adults who love gourmet popcorn in the location.
Generally, gourmet popcorn shops are located in schools, parks, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, railway stations, bus stations, campuses, sports centers, and any public facilities as long as you are permitted to locate your popcorn shop there. On the other hand, if you operate a mobile gourmet popcorn shop, then there won’t be any restrictions on the places you can sell your popcorn.
A graffiti removal business is another business that an ex-felon can successfully start. If you choose to start this business, you need to analyze the existing graffiti removal companies in and outside your area. Also, you would be required to check the existing competition, as well as know their strength and weaknesses.
Knowing the weaknesses of the existing graffiti removal companies around you means that you would be able to learn from their mistakes and in turn come up with better and more preferred graffiti removal services.
A juice and smoothie bar is yet another business that an ex-felon can successfully start. Juice and smoothie bars make and retail smoothies and fresh-made juices. Juice drink is one commodity that is consumed in all parts of the world and those that produce juice drinks, are known to generate sales year in and year out if the business is well–managed.
As a matter of fact, the economic downturn hardly affects the consumption of juice drinks because it is a commodity that is as affordable and considered a healthy substitute for soft drinks and other processed juices.
Start a Party Rental Business
A party rental business is not as capital intensive as starting a banquet hall rental business. This is because all that is required of you is to purchase tables, chairs, flatware, linens, centerpieces, stages, tents, canopies, and other items for public and private parties and events.
You will also need a warehouse facility or well-secured space to keep your items and also a truck to take them to and from event venues as requested by your clients. You can decide to rent out the truck or include it as a premium service to those who rent party items from you.
Start a Pest Control Business
If you are thinking of starting a business as an ex-felon, then one of your options is to consider starting a pest control business. A pest control business is a business that is involved in removing or eradicating potentially harmful insects, rodents, and reptiles from farms, commercial and residential properties.
Before you can start a pest control business in the United States, you must apply for a pest control license and pass an exam to demonstrate your ability to properly handle chemicals and other means to exterminate pests properly.
Start Scrap Metal Recycling Business
Scrap metal business is a business that is highly profitable because there is hardly any country or city where you won’t find used and abandoned metal scarps.
Essentially what you need to put in place in other to successfully launch a metal scrap recycling business is the machines and equipment needed, a good knowledge of where to collect used and condemned metal, and where to sell the raw materials generated from the recycling process, the legislation guiding the industry as well as strong entrepreneurial skills and determination.
Open a Car Wash
If you drive through the streets in cities in the United States, you will notice several car wash businesses in strategic locations.
This goes to show that the car wash business is a thriving business in the United States. One good thing about the car wash business is that it can be started by anybody as long as they have eyes for details and some business skills. If you have experience in this regard, it will be easier for you to start and effectively run a car wash business in the United States.
Open a Cocktail Bar
If you have eyes for good cocktail drinks, as well as have a penchant for business, then you may want to start a cocktail bar business. The market for the cocktail business has continued to rise as there are still people who appreciate cocktail drinks. Depending on the scale you want to start, the startup capital for this type of business can range from small to moderate.
Open a Gift Shop
Another business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States is a gift shop. Gift shops retail a range of gifts, gift wrap, novelty merchandise, souvenirs, greeting cards, party supplies, and seasonal and holiday decorations. One good thing about this type of business is that you don’t need to enroll in a conventional school to learn how to start and run this type of business.
Start a Dryer Vent Cleaning Business
As an ex-felon who intends to start a business in the United States, you can comfortably start a dryer vent cleaning business. The truth is that you don’t necessarily need to own a fully functional dry-cleaning business before you can make money from your dryer vent cleaning business.
You can start a dryer vent cleaning business and your services won’t just be restricted to dry cleaners but can also include homes and offices where dryers are used. Most people find it difficult to clean the vents of their dryers; hence they require the services of professionals.
Start a Laser Engraving Business
Another business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States is a laser engraving business. laser engraving permanently marks an item, providing a check and balance against counterfeit products or replicas. It is worthy to mention that you must consider some factors when getting a location for your business.
Since the laser engraving business is somewhat a hazardous one because of the chemicals involved, the facility being used must meet certain standards. It must be located in an industrial area and not in a residential part of the town. This is done to protect people from inhaling very harmful chemicals.
Open a Bridal Shop
A bridal shop is yet another business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States. Bridal shops are retail outlets that predominantly retail bridal wear, veils, and other accessories such as shoes, ties, gloves, and jewelry. One good thing about this type of business is that you don’t need to enroll in a conventional school to learn how to start and run this type of business.
Start a Driving School
Another business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States is a driving school business. Driving school business generally is a competitive business in the United States because it is not difficult to start. Any entrepreneur who intends to go into this business should ensure that they carry out thorough feasibility studies and market research so that the risks associated with the business can be greatly minimized.
The first thing to consider before launching this business is to know how to secure the required licenses and permits needed to successfully run this type of business.
Start Homemade Chocolate Retail Business
The major things you would need to make a success in this type of business are a good location, well–packaged homemade chocolate, and of course good customer service cum accounting skills. Homemade chocolates are chocolates that are made at the home and not mass-produced in a factory.
Those who produce chocolates ensure that they target locations where they can easily attract children because children are the major consumers of homemade chocolates and candies et al.
The Cargo van delivery business is no doubt a business that an ex-felon can successfully start in the United States. A cargo van delivery company is a business that transports and delivers freight for clients. Cargo van delivery businesses accept delivery assignments from clients or a courier agency. They plan their route, load and unload cargo, document each pick-up and delivery, and ensure timely delivery.
Open a Halloween Consignment Shop
Loads of people love to celebrate Halloween and of course dress in their favorite costumes but may not have the financial means to purchase the costumes of their choice. For such people, if they come across a consignment shop where they can find fairly used Halloween costumes, they will be more than willing to patronize such a shop.
So, if you are looking for a business to start as an ex-felon, then you should consider opening a Halloween consignment shop. This type of business will do well in the suburbs or places with people with low purchasing power.
Start a Monogramming Business
Monogramming business involves the artistic designing of gift items by cresting two or more alphabetic letters on the gift item. The gift item could be cups, Tee shirts, towels, Bags, Wedding Invites, Caps, Jackets et al. Although a small-scale monogramming company can be operated from home, especially if an individual is managing it, it pays to operate from an office or production facility.
Start a Resale Business
Another business that an ex-felon can successfully start is a resale business. A resale shop is any shop that gets used goods for resale. Resale shops can be categorized into three niche ideas and they are consignment shops, buy-outright shops, and thrift shops. A consignment shop accepts goods from customers, merchandises them for sale, and pays a portion to the contributor.
Start Hardwood Flooring Installation Business
If you perchance studied building engineering or any related course and you are keen to own a business as an ex-felon, then you should consider starting a hardwood flooring installation business. This is one business you can successfully start on a small scale and if you are good with what you do, it won’t be too long before you become a household name in the United States.
In the United States, you will notice that a good percentage of homes have wood flooring. This goes to show that there is indeed a large market for this business. Hardwood flooring installation howbeit technical can be learned within a few months.
Open a Botanical Store
A botanical store is bound to thrive in the United States hence the reason why this business is making our list of great business ideas an ex-felon can successfully start.
A botanical store or herbal shop is a retail outlet that sells medicinal plants and related products like spices, essential oils, flower essences, tinctures, and elixirs. Botanical stores also offer a variety of spiritual and religious merchandise and services, including candles, incense, potions, powders, icons, statues, and consultations.
A dunk tank rental business is yet another excellent and easy-to-start business opportunity for an ex-felon. A dunk tank rental business makes available dunk tanks for people to rent and make use of. A dunk tank, which is also called a dunking booth or dunking machine, is an attraction mainly found at fairs, fundraisers, and parties. A dank tank consists of a large tank of water over which a volunteer sits on a collapsing seat.
Go into House Painting Business
A house painting business is yet another highly lucrative and profitable business opportunity that an ex-felon can successfully start. One of the easiest ways of improving the appearance of your home is first to paint your house. This goes to show that there are indeed loads of business opportunities for professional painters.
Open a Flower Shop
If you have eyes for colors and designs, as well as have a penchant for beauty, then you may want to start a flower shop as an ex-felon. The market for both fresh and artificial flowers is healthy. This is as long as we still have weddings, burials, and other special events taking place all around us.
Lastly, a water restoration business is yet another highly thriving business that an ex-felon can successfully start. A water restoration company is responsible for cleaning up the aftermath of a water-related catastrophe that damages homes and business properties. The water restoration business is profitable because there are countless government buildings, schools, and private business facilities that are affected by water disasters each year.