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Notary Bulletin

Feature

Notary Moonlighting: Meeting the challenge

Full-time office jobs come with a lot of perks such as steady paychecks, set hours and consistent expectations. But many people want or need to add a side gig to bring in extra income and help make ends meet. Office Notaries are uniquely positioned to do that because they can use their commissions to get notarization assignments outside work.

Questions and uncertainty can hold people back from jumping into a potentially positive, lucrative and inspiring new direction, but the fear of the unknown doesn’t have to stop you, said Richard Alderson, founder of CareerShifters, a London-based organization dedicated to helping people find work they love.

“When you’re looking to change, it’s often you that’s your biggest obstacle,” he said. “People make assumptions as to what’s possible for them; some people say, ‘I’m too old, or too young.’ Some people think they don’t have enough experience.” But these self-imposed barriers are often not tested. “Fear and assumptions make up big reasons why people get in their own way,” he said.

If you’re willing to challenge your assumptions about what new job options and resources are available, you could create a thriving side business. You never know — it could become your new full-time gig.

Side-Gig Basics

One common assumption full-time workers make is that their current employer wouldn’t be OK with them starting a business on the side. This one is easy to test, and better done at the outset, rather than starting something and just hoping things will work out.

“When you’re looking to change, you are often your biggest obstacle.”

Richard Alderson, founder of CareerShifters

Jill Santopietro Panall, founder and chief consultant at 21Oak HR Consulting based in Boston, said workers should dig out the employee handbook and find out if there’s a moonlighting or non-compete clause which bans employees from doing the same work for someone else.

She worked as a Notary at one time for a company that paid for her seal and to take a class, but they put no boundaries on her using it elsewhere because notarizations weren’t their core business. “Anytime you’re competing with a core business, it’s a problem,” she said. If money is going into your pocket, it’s not going into theirs.

She also warned Notaries to be careful about using company resources to run the other business. “I see people getting busted on this all the time,” she said. Don’t use company email (IT can check this and prove you conducted outside business); use your own phone on your breaks or personal time; and don’t use company computers or printers (which is a big one for loan signings that may be hundreds of pages).

If you’re reasonably sure your new gig isn’t going to compete, it’s also a good idea to run things past your boss and then reaffirm their approval in writing via email, she said.

Marketing and Mentoring

Once you’ve determined it’s okay to be working as a mobile Notary outside business hours, Santopietro Panall encouraged Notaries to begin marketing by articulating their value statement — what unique value do they bring to the business? Particularly in saturated fields, a value statement can help you show reasons a client should choose you over a competitor.

When she first started out, Santopietro Panall had a friend and business coach who had set up and run small companies successfully. The friend encouraged her to do things that would show potential clients her expertise, such as speaking at chamber of commerce events or teaching classes.

Santopietro Panall also connected with people who could send business her way. A lawyer will have the legal end of things handled, but they may need a document courier, which is where the mobile Notary could come in. Santopietro Panall works with an employment lawyer, and that person has clients who still need HR consulting, which is where she steps in.

One of the best ways to develop an entrepreneurial mindset is to be around other people who are already successfully operating in this field, Alderson said. “You could learn through trial and error, but you’ll get there a lot faster if you have really good people around you.”

Balancing Work and Work

Anyone who is trying to integrate a new venture into their lives is going to need to open up space and create boundaries, Alderson said.

Before starting his business, he had a conversation with his employer where he pitched his request to reconfigure his schedule as a positive for the company. You could offer to work the same number of hours, but in four days instead of five. “If you can negotiate with work, pitch it as a win-win. Make the argument that you’ll be more energized, will do a better job, and have extra time to do more.”

You could also agree to fewer hours and a reduction in pay; whatever works best for you and which you can turn into a positive for the company.

Santopietro Panall said you need to make sure you keep up your performance at your current gig. “If a side hustle leaks into your ability to do a good job, that’s going to show. You don’t want to be rushing out of meetings.”

If your office culture already lacks boundaries, it may be a more difficult sell to ask for more personal time, but then again, if your company doesn’t respect your personal time, it may be time for a job change anyway, Santopietro Panall said.

Several Notaries who responded to an NNA Facebook query on moonlighting said one of the biggest impediments to doing side work is finding the time to print documents before an assignment. Others mentioned going home early or doing the side work on days when they don’t have to be at work, such as weekends.

The Notaries who experienced the most success with side work had only a part-time job, instead of full time. One Notary who is an insurance and lender inspector works as an independent contractor, so she’s in control of her schedule and can fit signings into her calendar.

Another Notary who works at a law firm during regular business hours does notarizations in the evenings and on weekends. “It’s a balancing act, but it can be worthwhile,” he wrote.

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