Business vs Side gig

I read a lot of people that made the statement to keep your full-time job! Some people made the statement this isn’t a career, but a side gig! Other people made the statement to many people are in this business, it’s over saturated! I guess from each person’s perspective, those statements can be true. For example, if you got your commission just to make some extra money fast. So in that case, it’s a side gig and maybe it’s time has come to an end. But if you are looking to start a real business, getting a Public Notary commission may be a great way to build a thriving low cost start up business with great potential. There are so many lines of services available for Notary Publics to explore and offer. For example, the other day I was performing a loan signing assignment. Out of the blue, one of the signers asked me a questions, could I notarize an estate document for them? Of course, I stated yes, that we could discuss things after the completion of the assignment. Not only did I get additional general notary work opportunity, but they needed other services too. That situation went from a one transactional and converted into a long-term business client relationship. When someone says, keep your job or look for a job. They are putting their employee mindset onto you. I wish to encourage you to decide to develop a business owner mindset and become a true Entrepreneur. Look for business trends and use your creative thinking abilities, by finding more ways to serve people. By doing so, you make yourself more valuable to your customers and your community.

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TO ALL MEMBERS: :beach_umbrella: As I have shared on multiple occasions on the Notary Cafe forum within various threads, please do your own due diligence prior to investing your hard-earned funds into ANY business venture. :dollar::moneybag:

Purely anecdotal experience can be insightful, but certainly isn’t representative of results across a region, state, nor the entire US. The statement “Your individual results may vary” is particularly germane in this instance.

It is WONDERFUL that some have an evolving/blossoming General Notary Work [GNW] event & certainly those are in no way being discounted, but they are RARE indeed.

Most members of the US population will take their GNW to their bank or friend/neighbor/church member who are notaries & have the service provided for NO FEE at all . . .

The overarching theme is that there is GNW available for those who are no longer mobile or who have time constraints or particular signatory demands. Yes, for those types of instances there is GNW, but it’s not a reliable source of income.

In addition, when the ever-evolving Remote Online Notarizations [RONs] are factored into the equation (increasingly being performed on a NATIONAL level) it realistically leaves very little GNW available.

Those who have been a business owner within this business sector for a decade or longer have seen the volume of signing agent & GNW continually diminish.

This is not to say that IF interest rates drop that signing agent orders won’t increase, because it WILL increase. Again, it’s not a reliable source of income.

With all the Signing Services [SSs] that are falling by the wayside, becoming defunct, and going Out-of-Business [OOB] there should be no question of the condition of the canary in the coal mine . . .

As we regularly witness on the Notary Cafe forum in various threads, some of those business entities that are OOB have left many Professional Signing Agents [PSAs] UNPAID for their professional services successfully provided.

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So, in essence . . .

  • You owe it to yourself when investing (whether financially or in launching a business) to do your own Research
  • When investing regardless of the sector/investment “vehicle,” do your own due diligence
  • Check the saturation of EXISTING Notaries within your locale PRIOR to making a commitment into the venture you’re considering
  • Investigate this data for a REALISTIC revenue generation stream potential from 2021: Finally..a reality check as to how much a notary earns
  • Also, investigate this data for the REALISTIC revenue generation stream potential from 2023 - Just 2 years apart - eye-opening insights: https://www.nationalnotary.org/file%20library/nna/download/nna-2023-notary-survey-results.pdf
  • Allow yourself at least between 2-5 years to establish stable revenue generation from your new venture
  • Always DIVERSIFY the services you intend to provide as it will “smooth out” the peaks & valleys of the income stream
  • If it ‘sounds too good to be true’ definitively applies in this instance
  • Of course, consider your financial needs. If you have only nominal financial requirements to meet, this could be a good fit for you!

:swan:

I disagree with this statement - when we say that we are warning people not to give up their already-in-place and paying day jobs until they can establish a business and decide if it’s going to be profitable enough to sustain both the business and their personal needs.

Your experience is unique and not all people are lucky enough to fall into long-term business agreements with signers. I had a few opportunities occur during GNW or loan signings - where signers agreed they needed my services for their businesses and they would be in touch…never heard from them again.

Yes there are many things Notaries Public can do - IF they are in a market to sustain it. You’re in Florida, as am I - your area may be different than mine - I’m very rural and people don’t want to pay the $10/notarization, never mind the extra money to travel to them. My best market without pushback is nursing homes - and even then I’ve had people call for me to go to them, we agree on a date, time and price (and trust me, I don’t overcharge, in fact I probably undercharge) - only to get a call back “We are going to cancel, my (insert relationship or relative here) is going to do it for free”.

All we try to do here with new folks to get them to not quit everything and bank on the notary side to be wildly successful right off the bat. Seen it too many times here - people who did just that and now have to go find a job because they get no work. They need to research the job market, their competition, their startup costs (which can be substantial) - make up a comprehensive business play - and until they do that, DON’T GIVE UP THAT DAY JOB!

Sorry this got so long…I could go on and on…but I’ll hush for now. I think you get my point

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Happy to hear of your success, but still have to totally agree with cNsa5 & LindaH-FL’s reality check.

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I understand cNsa5, LindaH-FL, and Arichter lines of thinking. My premise is the evolution of the Notary Publics in the business arena. Side gigs compared to business ownership, requires different development strategies. With that being stated, most side gigs strategies are to make extra money. Where as, business ownership have long-term strategies to build a sustainable profitable business. To keep this topic simple, the notarial business is mostly a transactional line of service. Meaning our income is generated per customer transaction. LindaH-FL alluded to that fact in her comment, that most of our business is a “one and done” transaction. We have to become more than just being a Notary Public/Loan Signing Agents. Like cNsa5 stated, we have to diversify our services. Other Notaries are offering tax preparation, insurance, and other lines of services. As for the statement “employee mindset” or “business owner mindset”, each person think and see things differently. First, allow me to state this upfront both mindsets are “okay”. My statement was not meant to step on anyone’s “toes”. Employee mindsets are task-oriented people top priority is to get things done, most employees are not “risk takers”. Entrepreneur mindset includes **risk-taking, innovation and opportunity seeking. There’s no guarantees in business, it’s hard work and risky. I close with this recommendation, read a book called “Think and Grow Rich” written by Napoleon Hill or find the audio on Youtube. That book has some great time tested principles that can be very helpful.

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Linda, I am in your camp. I also caution my students to temper their expectations because there are too darn many online snake oil hucksters selling training and books and proclaiming what a lucrative “side hustle” it is to be a notary public/notary signing agent. I tell all newbies: Temper your expectations and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I am not putting an employee mindset on anyone. When you are just getting started, “DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB” is sound advice. Not trying to burst anyone’s dream of being a notary signing agent. Just trying to pull people’s heads out of the clouds and get them to come back down to reality :wink:

That dang mortgage isn’t going to pay itself. So you have to have an income until the notary signing agent gig starts paying off for you and allows you to safely leave your day job to pursue this full time. All my humble opinion of course. Ultimately, people are going to do what they want to do.

Cheers!

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IMO the ones ruining it right now for us FULLTIME committed Notary/Loan signing agents is these YouTubers making a quick buck selling their unessesary “training programs” and telling a bunch of people to make it a side gig in the first place. All that does is drive down our fees and oversaturatate the field. I have been a loan signing agent since 2009 both in California and now a rural area of Alaska and I can tell you, the common offer in 2009 in CA was $100 to 150, it went down as low as $65 and i dont know who would accept that but a newbie, not doing the actualy math on what it would cost to print and drive to the client. Not knowing they can and SHOULD negotiate the price to keep us all at a decent price. But no, they are deseprate or just to niave to accept it. Up here, I can tell when a new Notary is taking my jobs, since I am the ONLY FULL-TIME notary for 300 miles. So ya, it makes a huge difference when newbies come drop the prices and frankly make a lot of.miatakes that I end up fixing, which costs the client even more money. Very frustrating.

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I forgot to mention, I am ALWAYS expanding my services. Wedding Officiant or witnessing, Mobile fingerprining, loan signings wills, trusts, affidavits all GNW, i make business connections all over town, buy the UPS store donuts and they refer me out all the time. Constantly update my profiles, websites, google, get google revews, became a RON notary certified with like 6 companies now, residential and commercial site inspections, virtual appraisals, the list goes on.

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That’s the confirmation i needed

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Which is the confirmation you needed?

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Hi All, I have had the pleasure to do it as a side gig for 2 years, then went to having it as my full-time business from 2019-2024 (JAN) - now full circle I do it as a side gig. Everyone is different but these past 2 years after watching my income drop 30% each year, yet the cost of things rising, and the unpredictability of getting paid made me decide to work full-time. I have a salary and can pay my bills without fretting over when more money will come in.
I do miss being my own boss and making my own schedule, yet at the same time I am not on constant hyper alert every time my phone beeps and feeling stressed over maybe missing a job. Maybe in the future I will go back full-time, but for now - having a steady income, benefits, paid vacation/sick outweighs the cost of being a business owner. Each person is different - if I had a spouse/partner to help during lean times, I probably would still do it full-time.

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“…having a steady income, benefits, paid vacation/sick outweighs the cost of being a business owner.”

Wise lady!!

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@Arichter, That’s an interesting opinion. It should be understood that there are two different compensation models, fixed wage compensation vs. performance compensation. Either one of those compensation models are offered in the employment arena. Also, when discussing employee or business ownership it’s a totally different matter. In planning business ownership there’s this thing called “working capital”, which includes the funding of “benefits”. One of the biggest reason some business fails is due to one or two reasons, the lack of working capital and poor management. A person should not become a business owner, if the individual does not plan to have enough working capital to sustain a business for a minimum of 3 to 5 years.
There’s no such thing is “free”! Employees do pay for their benefits and most of the times they do not have ownership or control of those benefits. That is one of the biggest reasons, employees are not making livable wages. Employers are not in business to allow their employees to prosper, they take 100% of the risk and most are not willing to share the creation of wealth with their employees. Employee’s benefit packages are an enticement concept and purpose is to retain employees. The costs of those plans are configured into the employee’s wages. Therefore, the employer can do away with any of those benefits at anytime, for instance look at what happened to “pensions or profit sharing” plans. Business owner’s benefits plans costs are pass onto their customers in the price structure for the cost for of products or services. So how does that outweigh things? It’s okay to make wages, there’s less thinking, responsibilities, and it’s easier to be told what, how, and when to do things as an employee. Where as business ownership requires taking all the risks, decision making responsibilities, and there’s no excuses to place blame on somebody else. Like the late Jim Rohn stated, “profits are better than wages”, wages will make you a living, but profits will build you wealth".

“profits are better than wages”, wages will make you a living, but profits will build you wealth".
Nice idea, but much of what you said depends upon how much profit a business makes. If your business is selling widgets for $100 and make $40 profit, but you only sell 1 a week and can’t pay your bills, you’re far better off working for wages that will pay the bills. When business income drops by 30%, it’s time to re-evaluate your situation. Which is what the lady wisely did. And she can still sell ‘a widget a week’.

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I do not disagree with anyone keeping or getting employment. It’s very prudent to keep a job until otherwise decided.

How you approach this business depends on your situation in life. If you are a younger person and have a chance to be employed by a company that offers health-insurance, vacation pay etc, I think it’s less risky to go that route and possibly work in a few assignments on the weekend. An ideal full-time notary signing agent is still young enough to drive safely and old enough to have patience and diligence in carrying out the job. You would also ideally have some sort of investment or pension (do they even offer that anymore?) to make sure you bills are paid. Our current situation is waiting for the rate to drop. Or WFTRTD. Wafter Toad. Those of us clinging to the niches are still a little hopeful that the sun will come up tomorrow. If we have a boomlet sometime later this year, I am hoping all the prudent financial strategies that were forced into play will not be abandoned.