Can a Criminal Record Hold You Back From Starting a Business?

Can a Criminal Record Hold You Back From Starting a Business?

In today’s hiring world, criminal history checks are a big deal, carried out by over 86 percent of employers. However, when it comes to starting a business, are criminal records as important? Those with a criminal record are usually scared of their criminal past haunting them in their entrepreneurial journey since access to their record is most of the time publicly available. The simple truth is that their record may hinder them from starting a business, but it depends on a variety of factors.

That’s why before starting a business, such individuals should hire an attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are satisfied. An attorney will also help in the process of completing proper state and federal filings, getting a tax identification number, and determining the best course of action.

But as a rule of thumb, the government wants to keep the recidivism rate low. One major way to accomplish that is to ensure the former convicts are allowed to become productive members of society. That’s why former convicts can start a wide variety of businesses. Here are some scenarios where a criminal record can hold one from starting a business:

Businesses that Require a Licence

Certain types of business require a license, and criminal history checks are a crucial part of the licensing process. Some common examples include:

  • Starting a medicine or law practice.

  • Running a business that handles dangerous chemicals.

  • Sales of firearms or other regulated merchandise.

  • Establishing a financial advisory service.

  • Working with the vulnerable or elderly

Starting these types of business with a serious criminal record may be impossible. For example, in countries like Australia, if you are to have any sort of access to vulnerable people like children in the workplace, then you are required to hold a working with children check (also known as a WWC). The working with children check examines all criminal history including spent convictions. The check cannot be obtained for people who have committed serious types of offences. This would therefore be a barrier to your opportunity to start any sort of business that has direct access to these sorts of populations in the community. However, the good news is that they make up only the minority of potential businesses.

Being a Registered Sex Offender

For those with a record of sexual misconduct, the law forbids them from closely interacting with vulnerable groups like children and the elderly. This is because the priority of the government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. Just one sexual abuse on a child can have a devastating psychological impact that may affect them for the rest of their life. Therefore, individuals with a sex offense may need to have their business located a certain distance away from schools and other designated establishments. They may also need to disclose their location on a public sex registration list.

Reputation Management

Although criminal records are now being stored online, those with a criminal record can also make use of the internet to their favor. This has to do with maintaining good public relations. Business owners with criminal records should focus on building their online reputation. This can be achieved by bombarding the internet with positive information about themselves and businesses. With time, negative public information about a criminal record will get buried.


Becoming successful in the entrepreneurial world requires passion and grit, and for a person with a criminal record, attaining success can even be harder. However, such individuals should not allow their past to hold them back. First, they have to recognize what they cannot do, and then focus their energy on what they’re permitted to do. That way, they can build thriving businesses and become productive members of society.