By Melissa Haley—A successful business requires careful study of the business environment in which you operate. It is wise to study the competition in your area, the opportunities for beneficial business relationships and the costs of operation. These items directly relate to your bottom line and the viability of success.

Search online listings to determine how much competition you have for the service(s) you intend to provide. For this, utilize notary directory services available online, yellow page listings, town/county property records and listings of notaries registered in your proposed service area available through city/town hall, county clerk’s offices or your Secretary of State.

Determine how much demand there is currently for your service. Search town/county records for the average volume recorded per month. Understand that some of the work is completed in-house or by attorneys, which reduces the actual amount of business available for you to pursue.

Identify the costs involved in conducting this business, including mileage, vehicle wear-and-tear, depreciation, and perhaps most important, the time involved in performing each service. Each business will have unique costs, depending on reliability and age of equipment used, service area and general overhead expenses. You must know your bottom line in order to establish your prices for a profitable business.

Once you open your doors, it will be critical to keep accurate records, from a collections as well as a tax-reporting standpoint. Utilize all resources available in determining with whom you conduct business. There are some very good places for gathering this information, such as professional notary boards and forums, NotaryBeware.com and Better Business Bureau sites. You may or may not realize that for every assignment you accept, credit is being extended to the hiring party. You are paying the expenses associated with the assignment up front, in hopes of being paid promptly and fully for the work performed. Know the payment terms and invoicing requirements for each company with whom you do business. Keep track of your accounts receivable on a regular basis. This shouldn’t take a great deal of time and effort if your data is kept up-to-date.

By knowing your cost of services performed, target profit margin and conducting a bit of legwork in establishing your notary signing agent business, you can look forward to a profitable future.