By Melissa Haley—As we recover from the recent recession, there are tighter loan restrictions, fewer borrowers qualifying for loans, and therefore less volume for the existing signing agents to compete for work. Not all is lost, however. Effective planning and research will give you the best opportunity to develop a successful signing business.

When starting any new business, it is best to always sit down first and develop a business plan including a marketing strategy, target market, service area, anticipated operating expenses and how that overhead will be covered with earnings. This business plan will guide you in what fees to charge, how far you can reasonably travel at your base fee and what equipment you can afford to purchase to get started in a business of your own. The last thing you want to do is get upside-down at the start of being self-employed.

As a notary in your state, you may also want to explore other options besides loan signings, such as marker tags and motor vehicle-related notary services, as well as other notary services allowed by your individual state. Be aware, however, that in order to perform any of these functions, it is imperative that you know your state’s notary laws thoroughly.

Starting this business in the current market will be an uphill battle. Research, research and more research will be required to make a go of it. Ensure that there is a market for your services; investigate leads and marketing tactics completely. There are more and more directories popping up that exist only to collect membership fees and do nothing more for you or your business. Remember that anyone can create a website and send out emails to entice people to join. If the site isn’t in the top listings on a “normal” search for relevant keywords, don’t waste your money. Likewise, if there are hundreds of others listed on a site and you would have to scroll down several pages to find your own listing, save your money.

Developing a business plan doesn’t need to be a daunting task. A little forethought will go miles in the long run for the successful operation of your new business. Conduct an Internet search on how to create a business plan or go to your local Small Business Administration for help. It is the first step to starting a professional Notary Signing Agent business.