I want to start a notary business, you might be thinking to yourself, but where do I start? I’ve broken it down into ten steps for you in another article called “Mobile Notary Public Quickstart Tips How to Become a Notary”. In this article I’m going to focus on some keys to the first steps in the process to help you get the ball rolling.
By the way, this article will focus on mobile notaries, also sometimes called loan signing agents, but some of the information here will be useful to all notaries. In case you’re wondering what the difference is, a notary public gets paid to be a third-party witness to sworn statements and official document signings, while a mobile notary public specializes in traveling to perform this service on short notice. Mobile notaries often perform this service for mortgage loan signings, hence the term “loan signing agent” for those mobile notaries who work in this area.
So how do you get started? Here are some of the first steps:
1. Start with a solid business plan for your mobile notary public business
In business as in sports, it’s always wise to start with a good game plan. For help with writing a business plan, you can find a free guide on the website of the US Small Business Administration:
A good business plan for notaries should ideally include these elements:
A. A brief description of your notary business and the services you will offer.
When you fill out paperwork to set up your business, when you run into potential clients, or when you create your promotional tools, you will need to have a brief description of your business handy. 90 words or less is ideal for getting your point across quickly through most media. For forms and microblogging tools like Twitter you will need an even shorter description.
How would you sum up your business and what you offer? Here are some questions to help you answer that:
- Would you best describe yourself as a mobile notary, a loan signing agent, or another specialty like a jail notary?
- What geographic region do you serve?
- Who is in the market you serve? Mortgage loan signing companies? Law firms? Jails? Hospitals? Marriage licensing services? (See more on this below under 1C.)
- Do you offer any special services, such as late hours, rush service, or bilingual service?
B. A practical management strategy.
Your management strategy lays out your goals and the practical steps you will take to achieve them. It’s best to get these down on paper so you can clearly visualize what you’re working towards. Here are some questions to help you with that:
- How much money do you aim to earn with your notary business?
- How many clients will you need to reach that goal, and at what price per client? (If you’re wondering how to set your prices, you can read more in this article: Mobile Notary Public Tips on How to Set Your Prices.)
- How many hours per week will you need to work to serve that many clients, including travel time, bookkeeping time, and promotional time? How will you fit that into the rest of your schedule?
- How will you book your assignments and travel to them?
- Will you need anyone else to help you with scheduling assignments, travel, bookkeeping, taxes, or other tasks?
C. A list of who the clients are in your target market.
You will need to know who the clients in your market are in order to find them and promote your services to them. The mobile notary market includes a number of different segments you can specialize in. Here are a few major ones:
- Loan signing and reverse mortgage signing companies and other markets related to mortgage loans, financial institutions, real estate agencies, title companies, and escrow companies
- Law firms and other legal-related markets, such as jails and bail bonds offices
- Hospitals and other health care markets, such as convalescent homes and nursing homes
- Marriage licensing services
D. A promotional strategy for how you will let your market know about your services.
How will you let the clients in your market know your services are available? Here are some tools you can use:
- A verbal sales pitch explaining what you do in 30 seconds or less (called an “elevator pitch” because you should be able to say it between floors during an elevator ride)
- Business cards
- A directory listing
- A Yellow Pages ad
- An answering machine script
- Phone scripts for cold calls
- Sales letters
- A website
That last item should be emphasized in today’s Internet-oriented business environment. A website you can link to from profiles in online business directories is one of your most important promotional tools. To help you with this, NotaryCRM lets you create a free profile:
E. A budget estimating your expenses and income.
If you want your business to be profitable, it’s important to keep track of your bottom line, including expenses like costs of equipment, promotion, and travel, some of which you may be able to deduct for taxes. (And if you’re wondering about notary tax questions, you’ll find some basic information here: Mobile Notary Public Tax Filing FAQs.)
2. Apply for a notary public commission and set up your business
Since a notary is a commissioned government official, you need a government license in order to become a notary. Every state has its own notary licensing procedures. Steps typically include:
- Meeting eligibility requirements for age, residence, and lack of felony conviction
- Applying and paying application fees, which can be done either directly to a government agency or indirectly by going through a notary association
- Completing training and passing exams, if any are needed in your area
- Waiting for finalization of approval
- Taking your oath of office and filling out any necessary paperwork
You will find more detailed instructions on how to become a notary in your area on the NotaryCRM blog.
After obtaining your commission, while you’re setting up your business, be sure to fulfill your state’s requirements for business licenses and tax filings. You may also choose to set up a business mailing address and a business bank account.
3. Obtain your basic notary supplies
To work as a mobile notary, you will need some basic equipment, including:
- a notary stamp and/or seal
- a journal
- a mobile phone
- a means of travel
You will also find it tremendously helpful to get software to help you manage things like your client list, schedule, document sending, and payments. A software tool that lets you do these things from your laptop or cell phone is NotaryCRM. NotaryCRM’s website offers a free account and notary directory profile to all notaries. The free account includes tools to assist with:
- Calendar scheduling
- Driving directions
- Payment collection
- Financial tracking
- Management of up to three clients
- Virtual document storage and portable email and fax features are included with a premium upgrade package that allows management of up to twenty-five clients
You can sign up for a free NotaryCRM account at:
4. Taking the next steps
NotaryCRM can also help you with later steps in the process of starting your notary business, such as organizing your time management strategy, creating an online profile to start promoting your services, and setting up your payment collection method. You can read more about these steps and other tips for growing your notary business by browsing the other articles on the NotaryCRM blog, located on the NotaryCRM website:
Good luck with your notary business! I look forward to hearing about your success!