Starting a new business or choosing your way to entrepreneurship is nothing new. In fact, this has been one of the major ways to make a living since the inception of human civilizations.
Post industrialization era saw the labor market growing in leaps and bounds, a setup in which people work for someone else, such as in a factory, and get paid for their contribution. The labor market grew dramatically and paid good salaries post World War 2. Some jobs even paid so well that you would be safer doing a job than betting on something else, such as a business.
The world, however, has been witnessing a dramatic shift toward entrepreneurship since the start of the 21st century. In the first two decades only, we saw the rise of the companies to become multi-billion dollar corporations that started their journey from a garage.
This phenomenal shift towards starting a start-up and being your own boss got its next boost from the global Coronavirus disease outbreak. This once-a-century pandemic caused governments to issue stay-at-home orders in order to curb the spread of the disease.
During the pandemic, many people were laid off and those who were not got enough time to rethink what they want from their professional life. For many, the answer was – entrepreneurship and that triggered the next round of start-up boom.
A report from the New York Times also sheds light on how the start-up boom grew stronger during the pandemic. There are virtually unlimited start-up ideas, and we can only suggest what we are experts in – the live scan fingerprinting business as a start-up.
1. Look before you leap – fingerprint business start-up
In the world of start-ups, the sky is the limit. You can sell products, provide services, become an aggregator, and create a revolutionary app that solves a common problem and whatnot. What you should take up as your start-up idea is entirely up to you and there is no article in the world that can suggest a start-up idea that is perfect for you.
In this article, we are not selling the idea of taking up live scan fingerprinting as your start-up, instead, we are trying to cover the questions that you may have as a fingerprint business start-up owner.
2. Know the initial capital a live scan start-up requires
One of the main considerations before venturing into the live scan business is the pricing of the live scan equipment. If you have everything set up such as a storefront and basic infrastructures then it will be will the upfront cost you will need to bear.
Fret not, a live scan fingerprinting start-up is not capital intensive and you would not need angel investors to raise capital. Since it does not require a heavy investment, you can cover it by raising the capital on your own. If that is not the option for you, banks and financial institutions happily provide loans at attractive rates for small-scale businesses.
You can start with a capital ranging from $4,000 to $6,000 for a live scan solution. If you can market your services right, you can cover your investment cost in a few months even if your live scan business performance is average.
3. Select a vendor right for you
Once you have raised capital, the next step is choosing a live scan solution vendor that can offer you the best prices in the market. Instead of looking for a vendor offering the cheapest prices in the market, you should go for a supplier that offers the right balance of price and after-sales support.
A vendor with a reputation in the market, clientele, positive feedback, etc., should not be hard to find. Going for the cheapest live scan fingerprinting equipment may save you some money upfront but may create issues in long term.
Getting in touch with the other live scan service providers can be the best place to get an idea about different vendors. If it is not possible for you to do that, you can have a look at online reviews.
4. Have a blueprint in mind – focus on branding
In order to start a live scan fingerprinting start-up from scratch, it is wise to have a blueprint of all the things you need to do and set up before you jump into implementing your start-up idea. In order to get to know live scan fingerprinting, we would encourage you to read this article – Live Scan Fingerprinting – Everything You Need to Know.
Let people know who you are, what your business values are, and what differentiates you from others. Choose a distinctive logo for your business if possible. This will help you with branding.
5. Acquire the live scan equipment and software
Before you can begin to provide live scan fingerprinting services – you should have the hardware and software ready.
Live scan fingerprint reader
Live scan fingerprinting readers as just like normal fingerprint readers except that they are specially manufactured keeping FBI specifications in mind in order to perform live scan fingerprinting. We all know fingerprint readers – you may have a tiny fingerprint reader on the back or on the screen of your smartphone. Offices have time and attendance systems with fingerprint readers.
Unlike these “special purpose” fingerprint readers, live scan fingerprint readers are generally larger in size with a large scanning area that can accommodate 4 fingers at once because FBI background checks require 4-finger slaps along with other scans such as rolled and flat scans.
You should make sure that you only go for an FBI-certified live scan reader as the FBI is the agency that prescribes the image quality specifications for live scan readers so that can companies can manufacture this equipment following the guidelines.
No matter which agencies you are going to provide live scan services for, your live scan fingerprinting equipment has to be certified by the FBI. Any agency you submit your fingerprints to, they will eventually land in the FBI’s system. Agencies such as FINRA EFS, California DoJ, NFA/ATF, FDLE, etc. use the FBI’s infrastructure to have background checks conducted.
Live scan fingerprinting software
A live scan fingerprint reader provides the finger scanning capability as per FBI standards but you will also need accompanying software called live scan software or live scan fingerprinting software that lets you make the best use of the live scan hardware. This live scan fingerprinting software is installed on a computer (such as a PC, laptop, or tablet running a compatible OS) and the live scan fingerprint reader is connected to that computer.
Live scan fingerprinting software will be your control center for performing a live scan. It comes with options to carry out a live scan fingerprinting process step by step and process the fingerprints for submission. Most live scan fingerprinting software has an inbuilt ability to evaluate the quality of the scanned fingerprint image. If the captured image is of inadequate quality, this should alert you and suggest you attempt a rescan.
When you apply for a live scan background check, you also need to submit demographics and other details along with your fingerprints. Live scan fingerprint software also allows you to fill in this data. It comes with a data entry module that has all the fields for providing the information that is required to carry out your background check by the law enforcement agency.
That’s not all, live scan fingerprinting software allows you to archive and manage scanned fingerprint images, print fingerprints on FD-258 cards, export .EFT file, and more.
As we discussed above the live scan fingerprinting software is installed on a computer, so you need a computer. Any PC, laptop, or tablet, running an OS compatible with your live scan hardware will do. And yes, you can use an existing computer for the purpose, no need to invest in a new one if you already have one.
In some cases, you will also need to perform ink fingerprinting or print live scan fingerprints on an FD-258 card, so you should have standard FD-258 fingerprint cards as well.
6. Register your live scan system with agencies
The next step is to contact the agencies you want to provide live scan services for, once you have chosen/purchased your live scan fingerprinting hardware and software.
Before you can start providing live scan services, you will need approval and a secure channel for the agencies you are working for. Each agency has its own process to provide secure access to a new live scan service provider, which can be found on their respective websites.
Live scan fingerprinting service providers can offer different background check services as the live scan is required by different departments and organizations across the country.
- FBI Background Checks
- FINRA EFS
- FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) Submissions
- Background verification services for different employment types
- NFA – ATF fingerprinting
- Ink fingerprinting
Live scan fingerprinting equipment must have secure access to different agencies to submit candidate data and fingerprints. The access for enabling your live scan system to submit fingerprints as a third-party live scan service provider is requested from the agency concerned.
To become an FBI third-party live scan service provider (aka FBI-approved channeler), you should have your live scan system registered by the agency. You can solicit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on its website states that they are not currently accepting any additional channelers. This can be done by registering at US Federal Contractor Registration.
7. Take your live scan fingerprinting start-up mobile
Did you know you can become a fingerprint service provider that offers doorstep fingerprint services aka mobile fingerprinting services and that is without putting any additional investment?
Mobile live scan fingerprinting service providers go to their client’s locations instead of the customers coming to their locations. It offers convenience for customers and an extra service fee for the provider.
This is particularly a great option if you want to run your start-up “asset-light” and don’t want to spend on a storefront. You will definitely lose some business because live scan service businesses with a storefront do not entirely depend on live scan fingerprinting alone.
They provide all the services they can think of such as notary, fax, shipping, DMV services, internet access, etc. Since they already own a storefront and provide live scan fingerprinting services, providing these additional services makes complete sense.
8. Get some training
A common question that confuses a lot of new entrants in live scan services is that do they need to go through any kind of certification process before they can start providing live scan fingerprinting services.
Rules or prerequisites to start providing live scan fingerprinting services vary from state to state. However, in most states, you would not find any “certification” barrier, but you do need to know how to take fingerprints and in that matter, training can help. There are online as well as offline training available that you can attend to learn how to use live scan fingerprinting devices and the software.
Some agencies such as the California Department of Justice require fingerprint rollers to be certified by the state DoJ.
“California law requires any individual who rolls fingerprints manually or electronically for licensure, certification, and/or employment purposes to be certified by the state Department of Justice (Penal Code section 11102.1). A certified fingerprint roller must enter his/her certification number into the Live Scan device when rolling fingerprint impressions.”
9. Profits in a live scan start-up are all about volumes
How much a fingerprinting business makes? Let’s take the example of the state of California. The rolling fee (the fee charged for providing live scan services) in the state of California is around $20 (subject to change). This amount is excluding the fee charged by the DoJ (California Department of Justice) and the FBI.
So your revenue will depend on how many live scans you perform in a day. If you market your services right and keep your customers happy, your investment will not take too long to recover and become profitable.
10. Set you expectations for success
When it comes to start-ups, you might think it’s a business that starts relatively small and becomes a multi-million dollar corporation if everything goes well. That’s true, there are start-ups that have turned into multi-million, even billion-dollar companies.
However, taking live scan fingerprinting services as a start-up is unlike what you might have heard or read about start-ups. It’s a small-scale business that will take time to grow. One day, you may become a brand and open your offices throughout the country, but that will take time along with your strategy to grow.
In a world disrupted by the global coronavirus outbreak, a struggling economy, and rising inflation, we may be heading toward the next recession. Big corporations such as Tesla, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Twitter, have already started cutting costs by cutting jobs. In such circumstances and with the world on the brink of recession, the live scan can be a lucrative business opportunity that can be started without huge capital and can become profitable sooner than most other start-ups.
Live scan fingerprinting is a service that people will have to avail of even if there is a recession, job cuts, or the economy is in a bad shape. Bad economic conditions may have some impact on your live scan fingerprinting start-up, but it is way better than having a job cut, isn’t it?