From prisoners to entrepreneurs

The Tax Academy launches Cellstudy

One of the main barriers to gaining employment on release is having a criminal record. As I mentioned last month, even trying to get insurance for your car on release can be difficult. Many individuals find that trying to get a job after release with a criminal record is an almost insurmountable task; the simple statistic being that less than 25% of individuals leaving prison will have a job when they leave prison; therefore many individuals leaving prison are turning to self-employment. It is no surprise that the Report ‘From Inmates to Entrepreneurs’ by the Centre for Entrepreneurs recently stated that almost 60% of those in prison wanted to find out more about going self-employed after release.

Most people, on release, want to get on with their lives and planning a business can be a real focus whilst in prison. Being in prison gives you the opportunity to think and create a new business idea, potentially research it amongst other prisoners and teachers and then plan the business. At the hub of creating a new business is the ‘Business Plan’.

Many prospective entrepreneurs on the ‘outside’ do not have the time to structure and plan their business, and many fail in the first twelve months. Whilst many see writing a business plan as ‘boring and turgid’, as they can take a lot of time and thought, prison time provides the ideal opportunity to write it, and, where possible, to use the resources within prisons to enhance it.

The idea of ‘Cell Study’ is to use your prison time to your personal advantage and plan to go self-employed on release. Quite simply being in prison is not a barrier to thinking about the future. Use the resources such as education courses, the prison library, your colleagues and family to help you plan your business.

The key to a successful business on release is the detailed planning that you put into it whilst in prison. Over the coming weeks, Cell Study will be taking a look at the various aspects of going self-employed and working with you on a Business Plan.


Developing your business strategy

Firstly, think about the business that you would like to start. What are the customer needs you are trying to meet? Think about how your business will meet those needs whilst making a profit. Try the ‘elevator pitch’ with a colleague. This is a short summary spoken aloud for 30-60 seconds answering the question ‘what does your business do?’ Not only can this ‘pitch’ be useful for clarifying your business but it can also be used for networking. Try it amongst your friends!

Here are some ideas and examples of previous successes:

• Gardener;

• Dog walking/grooming;

• Florist (Gina Moffat spent six years in HMP Holloway but created the ‘Blooming Scent’ business);

• Catering;

• Handyman;

• Car cleaning and detailing (HMP Oakwood for instance run courses on this);

• Hairdresser (several prisons run courses);

• Window cleaner;

• IT – software writer (Duane Jackson wrote an accounting package called ‘Kashflow’ whilst in prison and sold it for several million to Iris software);

• Greetings card entrepreneur (Dee Dee Cruize wrote her business plan when visiting her partner inside and launched this special prison-based online card service whilst he was in prison);

• Accountant;

• Personal trainer (Samson McNab – one of our clients – has just left HMP Prescoed and set up as a fitness trainer);

• Telecoms entrepreneur (Ben Sturge designed ‘Fonesavvy’ whilst in prison, offering cheap calls for prisoners calling mobiles outside. He launched the company on his release and the service is used extensively in UK prisons);

• E Mail entrepreneur Derek Jones designed the ‘Email a Prisoner’ service whilst in prison. The service is now in every UK prison and in several other countries);

• Bricklaying;

• General building work;


Cell Study – work to do in December 2018

• Write down the skills that you have or want to learn. Think about your business and try and find out as much about it as you can. For instance, try and get information on the market size, value of the sector, level of competitors etc;

• Use the ‘elevator pitch’ with colleagues;

• Start thinking about your competitors;

• What will be the pricing of your business?

• Are there any legal requirements?

Protecting your idea – trademark/patent;

• Think about your training needs;

In January 2019 we will begin to look at the Business Plan in some detail.


Get your tax affairs in order pre-release

Remember to contact The Tax Academy CIC to review your tax affairs to ensure they are up-to-date. There is nothing worse than being released from prison, then finding out that you have tax penalties and tax debt that need to be resolved with HMRC.