There is a pervasive perception that exists. It is the belief that America holds all the answers to the world’s problems. We see this fact in the many immigrants that come to this country in search of a better life. The truth is this is a haven that captures the dreamer’s mind – it is a place paved with gold and where opportunities abound. While on some level this is true because with its capitalist roots, the individual is given an equal chance to succeed if the personal obstacles can be overcome and the capacity to innovate is set loose within such an individual. The dream can truly come alive. Success is possible because after all, America historically is a place for the creative soul and is the land of dreamers, inventors, innovators, and damn hard workers alike.
The Notary Journey
As a Notary, we are given an opportunity to do just that – to innovate and generate change. However, as our journey progresses, we come up against the tough and difficult realities that most encounter in any business. We are in fact repeating a cycle based on the way we were exposed to an industry that often has a very few holding the wealth of knowledge. This can cause some of us to feel like we are merely left to pick up the scraps. This dream is a business, and business decisions are often tough.
To find a niche requires rigorous work and often trying and failing to access a market that is so diverse in its offerings. Think about the reality that a notary’s role plays in many aspects of life. What we do is not merely the act of verifying identities of document signers. We can potentially impact the outcome of someone’s well-being. Consider one misstep in notarizing a Power of Attorney that gives the authority to a villainous person to take care of medical and financial matters for someone who is unable to make those decisions for themselves.
What we do matters. We uphold the law and we must possess a high level of people skills and street smarts to assess situations accurately and to know when a “NO” to a signing is worth more than anything.
In light of these discouraging truths and perhaps the reality that you do need to earn an income, whether you are self-employed or doing a side hustle, how do you succeed when you want to quit? There is a delicate balance that is required of us to determine what will create success in our businesses.
The single most important step is to develop meaningful relationships within our industry. If we become so focused on making the next dollar, and forget about making a human connection, our path to success becomes more challenging. It is from these relationships and connections we establish that allow our business can grow. Like a good garden, these relationships take time and nourishment, but once we can see opportunities, we are able to reap the rewards.
From my own journey, I realize that moving from one state to another means that there are laws that limit me as a notary. For example, now living in Georgia and with the reality of Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL), I have found it hard to do what I normally was able to accomplish in North Carolina. My natural urge was to throw in the towel because I felt so out of my comfort zone. My options were to keep accepting the scraps or to step outside my own box of expectations.
I found the best way to do this was to really communicate with those in the industry. These people included fellow notaries as well as signing companies and anyone who was familiar with the Atlanta notary scene. This communication has made me more aware of the needs in my area and has allowed me to better position myself to meet those needs.
Outside my Comfort Zone
So far, I have found that Atlanta is far more diverse. By reviewing profiles and speaking to other notaries who appear to have a greater level of success than I have experienced, I realize that they are involved in transactions that take place in jails, hospitals, immigration proceedings, and debt settlement signings to name a few.
This is a far wider scope, being that my focus has always been solely on loan signings, the very thing I am limited from doing due to UPL. This reality is uncomfortable, but I am determined to succeed even though it means learning new things to broaden my skill-set. I am convinced that my success hinges on my willingness to learn. This is life after all – new horizons come with new challenges and success is sometimes uncomfortable. In a nutshell…true success is painful, but absolutely possible.
Note-To-Self (and to you as well): Don’t quit and always keep your mind open.
By Christine Farr, Certified Notary Signing Agent