10/7/2020

Small Business Spotlight

Glenda Lavalais: How A Working Mom Started Her Own Notary Business

Small business owner Glenda Lavalais shares how she went from working a 9-to-5 to becoming a full-time entrepreneur with her notary business, Infinity Notary and More, in this exclusive interview.

Katie Lee

Marketing and Design

Hatch Small Business Spotlight: Interview with Glenda Lavalais

In this exclusive interview, small business owner Glenda Lavalais shares how she went from working a 9-to-5 to becoming a full-time entrepreneur with her notary business, Infinity Notary and More. Big thanks to Glenda for taking the time to share her experience! You can find Glenda at Infinity Notary and More's website, Instagram, or Facebook.


Hatch:

Hi there and welcome to Hatch Small Business Spotlights, where small business owners share stories about getting started, lessons learned, and victories they've won along the way to building their businesses. I'm Steven. And today I'm joined by Glenda, a small business owner who started out as a notary simply because she kept running into problems with getting a hold of a notary. In between appointments, Glenda spoke with me about getting her business off the ground and how she's taking it from a side gig to a full-time job.

Glenda:

My name is Glenda Lavalais and I'm the owner of Infinity Notary and More, the mobile notary and loan signing company. And basically I just do general notary work where people, if they need a notary and they're not able to get out, I go to them and notarize their legal documents, or I can meet them in a neutral place and notarize their documents. And then I do loan closings, where people just bought their own home. I close on their documents. So I'm the notary on file with the county as far as closing their legal documents when home buyers refinance their homes and things like this. My tagline is I'm more than just the notary because I do other things besides just a notary. So I keep pretty busy doing everything under the sun.

Hatch:

It sounds like you keep pretty busy. So have you always been a notary? How did you get into this business?

Glenda:

It started because I have a son, he's 17 now, but he has a disability. He has a vision impairment and I was always needing to get something notarized for him. And every time I would go somewhere, I would have to use up all during my lunch break or leave work early and try to get there before the place closes at five. So it was so hard for me to try to do that because a lot of companies- they don't want you leaving early, when you're working a regular nine to five, they want you there within those hours. So every time I would try to do this, I would try to hustle through the nine to five traffic. And then sometimes I would get there and the place would already be closed.

So I wanted to do something about that. So now my hours of operation is- I cater to accommodate the person's schedule. If you need me after five, I'm there after five. If you need me at seven, I'm there at seven. So, because I know people work, so I'm more than happy to accommodate anyone's schedule, especially people that have kids with special needs because I'm in that same situation. And I know how it is to try to sign something and you can't get it.

Hatch:

Yeah. I'm curious. I mean, so you realized that there was this demand, but it's still a pretty big leap from realizing that to going out on your own and starting a business. I mean what was the point where you were like, "Okay, I'm going to try to do this"?

Glenda:

Because I really, he was, my son was trying to go to camp and I couldn't find a notary anywhere. And I missed the deadline for him to get to camp because I couldn't get a notary. Walmart has a notary inside of their bank, but that notary is never there at that bank. And they only work certain days or you have to be a member of the bank and then now some banks don’t even do notarizations at all. So I figured, hey, there's a need there. I can solve that need. So I can do this. So I decided that I would just go ahead and apply for my permission. And at first I just did it to just help people out that was just in my community around me in my area. But then all of a sudden, it just happened and it became a business for me. So now here I am. Now today, I'm Infinity Notary and More.

Hatch:

Can you tell me about your first experience as a notary? It happened at a Burger King parking lot. Is that right?

Glenda:

Yes. I was actually at work. I work, my full-time job is currently I work for Texas Health and Human Services and I had just started my notary business and someone called me to do a notarization for them. And I was so nervous and I was thinking, okay, where can I meet this person? So I just had them meet me in a Burger King parking lot here in Irving. So I drove from Arlington to Irving and I sat in the back, and this was way before COVID started, so I sat in the back seat of their car and notarized their document for them in the backseat of their car, in the Burger King parking lot. And I was nervous as heck thinking I was going to forget something. And it was the very first experience. So like I said, I drove from Arlington to Irving for $8, which is what I charged them. And once I did that first one, it was like a sigh of relief. All I needed was that first one to feel confident. And then after that, I've just been rocking and rolling ever since then.

Hatch:

What did it take to build this into a business, from something that you were just doing?

Glenda:

What happens is some people think, even now you can look on the internet and there's courses that people are offering, that's letting new notaries know that you can make six figures doing this, but what they're failing to say that it's going to take them two or three years before they start making those six figures.

Hatch:

Yeah. $8 is one figure.

Glenda:

[Chuckles] Right. And so you can imagine that's not going to make you rich overnight. I had to realize, that's why I'm still holding on to my full-time job right now, because it's not a get rich quick type of employment. You have to get out there and you have to make a name for yourself. You have to do the work in order to bring in the money. So it's those long days and longer nights that makes you what you are.

And it's taken me about a year because I've been doing it a year, it's over a year now. And I'm just getting to the point where I'm about to quit my full-time job and make the notary business my full-time job. Now, the business is not going to come to you. You have to go out there and get it because I consider myself a shy person. But when I started doing this, all that went out of the window. Now I'm a people person, because I'm out there handing out business cards, going into businesses. I let everybody that I know knows that I'm a notary. Strangers and all, because I have signs on the side of my car advertising my business. I have flyers everywhere. Everywhere I go, I'm handing out a business card or something because that's the only way that people are going to know that, hey, I'm in business. And that's the only way you're going to make it.

Hatch:

I was going to ask how are you drumming up business? What do you do to get clients? It sounds like in your case, it's a personality thing where you're like, "I'm going to be an outgoing person."

Glenda:

Yeah. I had no choice but to come out of my shell in order for me to do the loan signing. I can't go into someone's home and be a shy person. I had to throw all of that out of the window and become a whole new person. I just had to bring out the best in me. And because now I go in and I just make it the best opportunity for me and that person and that homeowner because that's a big step for them. And they don't need the notary being nervous when they're already nervous. So I need to be calm for them to be calm so that we can get through that process. That's a big step for a homeowner to close on their home, get the keys to their new home, and things like that. That's a wonderful moment. And I'm happy to share in moments like that with these homeowners. And that's a good feeling for myself. So I'm just working and I'm loving what I do every moment.

Hatch:

So tell me how Hatch has supported you and your company as it has grown.

Glenda:

When I first started out, I saw the Hatch Card on Facebook actually. So I was like, "Okay, well, I'll just apply just to see. I'm new. And I'll see." And they approved me for I think it was a $250 line of credit, which is good for me because I'm a new business just starting out. And then when COVID came, I didn't even have to ask for an extension on paying my monthly balance because they just sent out something to say that they would automatically give you a 90-day grace period. And I thought that was so good as a company because you didn't even have to reach out to them. They reached out to their clients first. It was a tough time when COVID first started, because as a notary, people didn't want you coming into their homes, which is understandable because I didn't want to go into people's homes because of this. They really came through for me as far as giving me the line of credit in the first place. So I really do appreciate them for even giving me the line of credit that they gave me.

Hatch:

Yeah. What did you do once you had gotten that? Do you remember getting supplies or do you remember what you did?

Glenda:

Yes. I was able to get paper and toner, and every... Things that I needed for the business because things like that are not cheap. So I was able to use that line of credit to get additional supplies that I needed for my business, because I use a lot of legal paper and letter paper and things like that for my printers. And just stocked my supplies up in advance for when I did, when I needed it, it was already there for me.

Hatch:

Okay. Can you tell me a little bit about the challenges that you've been facing recently?

Glenda:

Yeah. Well, when COVID first started, like I said, it was a challenge because I stopped doing closings for a while. So I had to get creative. So I had it fixed to where I started doing contactless notary work. I live in an apartment right now, so I decreased my travel fee and I started having people come. I just started telling them the building number where I live and people love the fact that they don't have to get out of their car. I just stand at their window and scan their ID because I have a journal on my phone that I can just scan the back of their ID and capture all their driver's license information. They don't have to sign the journal. And so they're paying less money. I'm still making money and they're still getting their documents signed, and I didn't have to touch anything for them.

And I'm wearing my mask and they're wearing their mask. And the only thing I'm touching for them is their paper that I'm notarizing for them. So I had to get a little creative, but it works. They love the fact that they don't have to get out of their car. And so the elderly, I thought of this thing called the Daisy discount, which is named after my mom. I gift my service to the elderly. They don't pay me a thing. I'll drive to the elderly and notarize their documents at no charge for them.

Why? Because the thing is they'll make a lot of money anyway from social security. So I'm not going to charge them anything to notarize their documents for them. And I still get blessings in return because they have children and they have grandchildren and they're going to tell somebody that I notarized their documents, and then I'm still going to get business from that in return. And it happens all the time. So I'm not worried about not charging the elderly anything. So I've just thought outside of the box basically. And it works.

Hatch:

So, yeah. I mean you said that you're about to make this your full-time job, right? I mean what's that going to take and how are you feeling about it? Are you very excited? Does it doesn't feel like a big step?

Glenda:

I'm excited, I'm scared. My son graduates this year. He's a senior now and I am so excited to be doing this. I just got a contract with an insurance company where I'm able to do insurance surveys. And so I'm going to just totally transition. But it's just the fact of getting everything in place. But like I said, I'm scared, but you know what? I can do it. I just have to already think that it's done and it's done. I just have to get myself in a right mind frame and whatever you think you can achieve, you can achieve. And I can do this and I know I can. It's already being done and I just have to continue to do it. It's all about hard work and dedication. By the end of the year, this will be my full-time business. I'm just getting everything in order. And you always have to be in order, and I'm just putting all my ducks in a row. So that way, when things happen, I'll already be set up like I need to be.

Hatch:

There's a lot on the horizon clearly. I mean is that Hatch line of credit still important to you? Is that credit card still something that you're using regularly for your business?

Glenda:

Oh, absolutely. It is going to be something that I will need always because my supplies are always going to be needed. The line of credit is going to always be needed by me because I'm going to always need to use it. Hopefully, they can increase the line for me and I can get maybe bigger printers or something like that. But that's always going to be something important to me that I'm going to be able to use that Hatch Card line of credit. And I will tell anybody to apply for that Hatch line of credit, because it isn't a joke and it's not a game and they are serious about helping their customers.

Hatch:

You are someone who has started a business and grown it into something really substantial. What advice do you have for others who are hoping to do the same thing?

Glenda:

I would just say if it's your dream or even if it's just a hobby or a side gig, if you believe you can do it, just go out there and do it. Doesn't matter what anyone says, because it's always going to be naysayers. Don't listen to them because you can do it. Everything is attainable and just always keep God first. And just try because you can't fail at something that you never tried to do. So I would just say, just go for it because I did and look where I am.

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This interview was recorded and produced by the awesome team at Artifact. Give them a visit if you're looking for personal podcasts to tell your story! 


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