Are you an ex-felon looking to earn extra income or give your life a positive meaning? If YES, here are 50 profitable small business ideas for ex-Felons. A felony conviction is not necessarily the end of your life, dreams and aspirations. You should never allow your past experiences and situations to determine the rest of your life.
It is common knowledge that getting a job as an ex-felon is not always easy and even if you do get a job, it might just be a crappy one that is only going to pay you peanuts. This is why the best option for you as an ex-felon is to start a business of your own. Here are 50 low-cost businesses that you can easily start.
50 Best Small Business ideas & Opportunities for Ex-felons
Table of Content
- 1. Start Selling on Etsy
- 2. Become a Freelance Writer
- 3. Become a Dog Trainer
- 4. Start Designing Websites
- 5. Start a Lawn Care Business
- 6. Set up a Photography Business
- 7. Start a Car Wash
- 8. Graphic Design
- 9. Start a Vegetable Farm
- 10. Set up a Hookah Bar
- 11. Start a Herb Garden
- 12. Start a Poultry Farm
- 13. Start a Consignment Store Online
- 14. Become an Information Marketer
- 15. Start a Delivery Business
- 16. Start a Dog Walking Business
- 17. Start a Mobile Coffee Café
- 18. Start a Dry-cleaning Business
- 19. Start Selling Frozen Food
- 20. Publish a Book on Amazon
- 21. Start a Dropshipping Business
- 22. Set up an Electronics Repair Shop
- 23. Start a Commercial Cleaning Business
- 24. Start Removing Graffitti
- 25. Set up a Haulage Business
- 26. Consider Marijuana Farming
- 27. Become an Uber Driver
- 28. Start a Constructions Equipment Rental Business
- 29. Become an App Developer
- 30. Start a Pool Cleaning Business
- 31. Set up a Dairy Farm
- 32. Set up an Organic Bakery
- 33. Start Making Soaps and Shampoos
- 34. Start a Music Business
- 35. Become a Sales Consultant
- 36. Start Running Errands
- 37. Online Tutoring
- 38. Become a Travel Consultant
- 39. Become a Fitness Trainer
- 40. Start a Hairstyling Business
- 41. Become an Events Planner
- 42. Set up a Mobile Pet Grooming Salon
- 43. Become a Salsa Tutor
- 44. Become a Fashion Designer
- 45. Become a Blogger
- 46. Become a Virtual Assistant
- 47. Start a Resume Writing Business
- 48. Offer Bookkeeping Services
- 49. Offer Document Transcription or Language Translation Services
- 50. Become a Property Finder
1. Start Selling on Etsy
If you took lessons in Arts and Crafts in jail, this is a good opportunity to put your knowledge to use and make money from it. Etsy is an online marketplace that allows you to sell handcrafted products. You can sell anything from jewelries to shoes, bags, home furniture and accessories, and even handmade cosmetics.
Some people would refuse to hire your services once they get wind of the fact that you are an ex-felon. Well, that is nothing to worry about because right there in the comfort of your home, you can sell your writing skills on freelancing websites like Fiver, Elance, and Freelancer. Most of the buyers on these platforms don’t really care about who you are as long as you can deliver a good job.
3. Become a Dog Trainer
You don’t need a lot of cash to start a dog training business but if you don’t have prior knowledge, you might have to first undergo apprenticeship with an experienced dog trainer so that you can show your prospective clients that you are qualified enough to handle their pets.
These days, it is almost impossible to do business if you don’t have a website. Savvy entrepreneurs know this, and this is why the demand for web design services have risen over the past few years. If you have no prior knowledge of how to design websites, you can take an online course and within a few weeks, you would become a pro at website designing.
Most people don’t have the time to mow and care for their own lawns hence they hire other people to do it for them and pay them a small amount. If you are buying new equipment for this business, you may need to spend thousands of dollars to set it up but you can cut down these costs by renting equipment, or buying second-hand equipment.
Photography is a business industry that has grown so much over the past few years. There are a lot of niches within this industry that you can explore. You can start an events photography business and take photos of people on their special occasions, start a product photography business where you take professional photos of products for people who sell their stuffs online, or start a stock photography business and sell photos to people who need them for their blogs, websites, and other uses.
If you able to get some space in a busy area, a car wash is a very good business to start in such a place because it is not uncommon for people driving through busy areas to stop and give their vehicles a much needed face-lift.
Thanks to the growth in eCommerce, graphics design is now a very lucrative business enterprise. You don’t need a degree or any type of formal education to become a graphics designer; you just need some online tools, computer software, and a good eye for designs. You can design flyers, billboards, posters, and web banners for your clients.
9. Start a Vegetable Farm
Now that healthy diets have become very common, there has never been a better time to start a vegetable farm. Vegetables are hot cake right now and you can make a lot of money selling them in farmer’s markets, flea markets or even online.
Hookah is being touted as a safer option for cigarettes and whether that’s true or not, people love this stuff. You can cater to the nightlife needs of people in your area by setting up a hookah bar.
11. Start a Herb Garden
Just like vegetables, herbs have also become very popular. You can start a herb garden and sell your harvest to people who are interested in naturopathy and alternative medicine.
If you have enough space in your backyard or can rent some space, you can set up a poultry farm where you can breed chickens and sell your harvests including poultry meat and eggs. You can take this business a little further by offering processing and packaging services.
Get people to bring their used clothes and stuff that they no longer need to you, list the products online (on your website or social media) and then charge a commission on every item you are able to sell.
14. Become an Information Marketer
What information marketers do is to dig out information that people are curious about, package them into e-books or audio files, and sell them to other people who are hungry for these information.
Most people purchase stuff online these days and this has led to a rise in the need for efficient delivery services to ensure that people get the products they order for promptly. You can make good money from setting up a business that picks up orders from sellers, and delivers them to the buyers.
If you don’t want to commit to a dog training business, you can start a dog walking business instead. You don’t need a dime to set up this business, and you can offer your services to dozens of customers in a day, and personally benefit from the free exercise you get from walking dogs daily.
17. Start a Mobile Coffee Café
Most people love coffee. If you are able to get some business grant or if you are able to raise some business funds on your own, you can set up a small mobile coffee café and sell hot steaming coffee to people in busy areas.
Another smart business idea you can explore as a convicted felon is dry-cleaning. This is a very hot-in-demand service that is guaranteed to make you money provided you offer services that would impress your clients.
You can also start selling frozen food including seafood, poultry, meat, vegetables and other frozen food.
20. Publish a Book on Amazon
A lot of people are making good money from Amazon kindle publishing. If you have a writing talent or story idea, you can package it into a book and sell it on Amazon. You can even write about your experiences in jail and sell it on Amazon Kindle platform.
Dropshipping is a type of business where you get wholesalers or manufacturers to deliver their goods to your customers with you acting as a middleman. You have to set up an online store on a platform like Ebay, Amazon, or any other ecommerce platform with high traffic, look for wholesalers who can give you good discounts, and can ship directly to your customers.
So whenever you get an order, you simply get the money and address from the customer, use it to order for the product from the wholesaler and give the wholesaler the customer’s address so that they ship directly to the customer, and you can keep the difference in purchase and sales price as your profit.
If you have the knowledge or can devote some time to learning, you can set up an electronics repair store where you help people repairs their home appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens, washing machine, and so on. You can also add selling of used or refurbished appliances to this business.
You can make money from cleaning offices, shopping malls, residential houses and farms. This type of business is very easy, and costs very little to start.
Many real estate owners would not mind paying you some money to clean up the mess made by graffiti on their property especially when they need to increase the value of the property during a sale.
If you have a truck or you can get one from a family member or friend, you can earn a lot of money from using it to carry out haulage and delivery services.
26. Consider Marijuana Farming
You are legally allowed to cultivate marijuana for commercial purposes as a convicted felon in some states while it is forbidden in some others states. If you live in a state where there are no legal restrictions on cultivating marijuana for convicted felons, this is another great way to make money.
27. Become an Uber Driver
If you still have a valid driver’s license, you can enroll with Uber and earn money from driving passengers to their destinations.
28. Start a Constructions Equipment Rental Business
Not every contractor is able to afford to buy their own equipment. Most new contractors simply rent equipment in order to cut costs. You can purchase some of the most commonly used equipment, and rent them to contractors for a fee.
Mobile apps and computer software are hot right now. If you have a great app idea, you can pay someone to develop it for you, or do so yourself.
You can also search for people who have pools in their homes, and offer pool cleaning services to them.
A lot of people consume milk and dairy products. Save up some money, buy a few cows and start supplying milk to businesses that need them to make dairy products.
I would say set up a bakery but that is a highly competitive business. However, you can choose a less competitive niche that involves using organic and healthy ingredients to make baked goods.
Almost everyone uses soaps and shampoos. You can make some nice ones and start selling to people around you. You can also expand your business by supplying your products to grocery stores and hotels.
34. Start a Music Business
It is not uncommon for ex-felons to make it big in the entertainment industry. People like 50 Cent and Akon were ex-convicts who made it big from exploring their musical talents. If you can write songs, rap, sing, direct movie videos or produce hit songs; don’t pass up on the opportunity to make good money from this.
35. Become a Sales Consultant
You can start earning commission from selling products from companies like Avon, Tupperware, or Mary Kay.
36. Start Running Errands
Busy people don’t mind paying someone to run some errands for them. This is another low-cost, easy-to-set-up business idea that you should also consider.
37. Online Tutoring
If you have in-depth knowledge in some subjects, you can make money from this by tutoring students online. You can also search for people around you who may need your coaching services for their children.
You can also make money from offering visa support, ticketing, and travel advisory services to people in your city or online.
You probably spent a lot of time working out when you were in jail. You can turn this into a business and make money from offering fitness coaching services to people who need it.
Even if you don’t have enough funds to set up a salon, you can offer mobile hair styling services so that you can help people look good from the comfort of their homes.
Another easy business to start is events planning. You can charge a small fee to help people plan and coordinate their events so that it can run smoothly.
42. Set up a Mobile Pet Grooming Salon
Not every pet owner enjoys booking grooming appointments and driving through heavy traffic to get their pets groomed. You can take this stress off them by setting up a mobile pet grooming service.
43. Become a Salsa Tutor
Salsa is a very popular workout routine for people nowadays. You can either partner with a local gym and offer your salsa tutoring services to their clientele, or get some money and set up your own salsa studio. You can also consider becoming a dance instructor.
44. Become a Fashion Designer
You can sell tailored suits, custom dresses and even offer fashion consulting services to your clients.
45. Become a Blogger
Think of a unique niche and start blogging; you can earn a lot of money from ads and affiliate marketing commission from your blog.
Another lucrative idea is to become a virtual assistant. You can earn some good income every hour by helping people complete small tasks online or sometimes, offline.
Many job applicants hire resume writers to help them write their resumes or tweak it. Even if you are not good at this, you can easily learn the skill.
Another good idea is to turn your accounting and bookkeeping knowledge into cash by offering bookkeeping services to business owners online or offline. You can also expand your business by adding tax filing and consulting to your services.
49. Offer Document Transcription or Language Translation Services
If there is any other language that you can speak or write fluently, you can earn money from it by offering document translation or transcription services online.
50. Become a Property Finder
Lastly, you can make money from helping people find houses, offices, shops, or hotels. If you want to avoid the entire process of getting a real estate agent license, you can simply set up a website or mobile app for this. However, it still helps to find out what the legal limits are within your state so as to avoid breaking the law.