So You Want to Start a Mobile Notary Business in California
As a notary public, perhaps you've been supervised by someone else and, after years of experience, you're eager to strike out on your own. Or maybe you're ready to get your feet wet in the notary business by creating a mobile service right away. Whatever your motivation, now is a great time to become a mobile notary public. Many people consider it a flexible side job, while others work their way up to a lucrative, full-time business.
Why be a mobile notary?
A mobile business can be more profitable than typical notary services, given that you fill a specific need. Keep in mind, though, that mobile notaries are independent contractors. You're not hired by any business in particular, so you'll be responsible for all tax filings as an individual.
Common services that mobile notaries typically perform include real estate and mortgage transactions. Before you start your own business, you should assess your current skills and decide on your area of focus. In other words, find your niche market. For instance, you might like to work with after-hours businesses for the convenience of all parties. Consider, also, the people who might not be able to get to you during the day, or at all, such as senior citizens in assisted living facilities. Having night and weekend availability gives you an advantage over the 9-to-5 crowd.
What does being a mobile notary public require?
First, you'll have to complete your state's required training and certification programs in order to become a notary public. Once you have those under your belt, you may need to complete additional training for specialized services, like the aforementioned real estate transactions or the execution of loan documents.
Next, create a detailed business plan that includes your
- Specific Services
- Estimated expenses
Do you need a coach or mentor?
Someone with experience in the field can help you a great deal, especially if this is your first time going into business for yourself. You can find a mentor through professional associations, LinkedIn groups, or the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE is a non-profit organization offering free mentor programs, online workshops, and other events throughout the country.
Then, focus on finding clients, advertising your services, and standing out from the competition.
Be sure to submit your name to all known notary directories. If you don't already have them, create your website and business cards. Network with relevant local professional associations, small businesses, charities, and anyone else who could recommend you. It's important to build long-term relationships even if they don't need your services now. Market yourself online, but be clear that you are not an E-notary services provider. Many states, including California, require a “person-to-person encounter, prohibiting webcam services.
Research your potential clients, too. Some industries (title companies, for example) are notorious for taking a long time to pay their invoices. Can you afford to wait on them? If not, stick with a few clients who can help your business grow and profit right from the start.
The National Notary magazine recently surveyed its members about useful apps. They recommended, among others:
- Evernote and Files Pro: Document Reader for productivity
- Square for payments
- Google Docs, Box, and Dropbox for document creation and editing
Important Note: Be sure to follow your state's laws regarding notarial record keeping with regard to hand written journals versus electronic journals. In plain terms, you should avoid apps that might compromise a client's privacy or information security.
What's the job outlook for mobile notaries?
Right now it's positive, but hang in there, because it might take several months for you to find enough clients to turn a profit and boost your reputation.