10 tips for starting a business after prison

Since we launched in 2018, we’ve worked with hundreds of men and women on their reentry journey, many of whom were working to start or grow a business. We’ve learned from every interaction and drawn wisdom from every story, and distilled all of that into our “10 tips for starting a business after prison.” Please download and share the PDF with anyone you think may be interested. Starting a business is hard, but if you take it one step at a time with an open mind and heart, success is possible.

  1. Get a job in the industry in which you want to own a business: Every chance you get to see how businesses operate is helpful. Making money is crucial too. 
  2. Invest in your future business by building up your savings: Entrepreneurship is a long game. Launching your business will be so much easier down the road with money saved. 
  3. Make friends with people who build you up and will help you reach your goals: The old adage is true “You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.” Ditch friends who drag you down. 
  4. Build your team of support through positive relationships with your parole officer and reentry organizations: There are many people out there who want to see you succeed. Get to know them and they’ll help you ride the highs and the lows. 
  5. Set short and long term goals in an action plan: Every successful business has a roadmap for reaching their goals. While plans are flexible, they’re also important. 
  6. Use a personal budget and improve your credit score: If you can’t figure out how to make more money than you spend in your personal life, the same will be true for your business. A good credit score will help you greatly in the long run, too.
  7. Do research on your type of business: Books, podcasts, YouTube videos, conversations… there are tons of free ways to learn about your business. 
  8. Start drafting a business plan: The Lean Canvas model is a great tool to use to start to get your business plan down onto paper. That’s where all great ideas start. 
  9. Network with existing business owners in your industry: While business is competitive, it doesn’t have to be cutthroat. Get to know others’ stories and ask lots of questions. Starting a business is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. 
  10. Eventually, after your foundation is built, start testing out your business idea one customer at a time: Every business starts by testing out your idea. Keep your job while you start building your business on nights and weekends. 

To help us continue to provide hope and knowledge to men and women in prison, become an INVESTOR in Determination, Incorporated. For $20/month or $250 once, you can help formerly incarcerated people find a new path, provide for their families, and stay out of prison. Invest now.

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Determination, Incorporated is a 501C3 nonprofit in KCMO creating a pathway of opportunity for formerly incarcerated people through entrepreneurship. To learn more, contact us here.

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