Author: Brani Andreev, MBA, is an expert in nationwide management of process service, consultant, speaker, and developer of the breakthrough Management Model of the 4Ps™ that ensures the consistent quality of process service.
Is it possible to start a process service business with no money? It is not easy, but for certain type of businesses like process service, the answer is yes, and here is how it is done.
Process service is one of these service businesses where in most cases, you spend money only when you make money. What it means is that if you have organized your business frugally (you have not rented an outside office and have not hired an office assistant before you have even served one process), then you spend money only when a client hires you to deliver legal documents. The "secret" to launching your process service business with little or no money is to get creative and be determined. Contrary to the cliché, it does not always "take money to make money." There are plenty of process service business owners who started their businesses with little or no cash.
Here are 11 strategies that work to start a process service business without capital:
1. Recognize and Use the Assets You Have as a Process Server
If you are reading this article, chances are you have little or no cash to invest in a business. But you do have assets and abilities that you can use to get a process service business started. Most likely you already have skills and knowledge that would help you launch your process service business. Perhaps you are a retired law enforcement officer, a former military, have worked as a courier or even a delivery guy. Many skills you have developed while working other jobs could be applied and used as assets when starting your process service business. Using those skills and assets - in other words, using what you already have – is the key to getting your process service business started when you have little or no money.
Begin by making a list of things you already know how to do, are good at doing and like doing that are related to process service. Do not limit this initial list. List even the simplest tasks like delivering pizza or mail, as well as more difficult or skilled things like analyzing financial data or creating software.
Next, think about the physical things and money you do have that could be used in your process service business. For instance, if you are reading this page on a computer or a mobile device that you own, you already have a piece of equipment that you can use to get your process service business started. You can use your word processor (or other software if you have it) to keep track of your services or prepare affidavits of service or even write up promotional materials and distribute them by email to paralegals or attorneys who want information about your services. If you have an inkjet or laser printer, you can print some of your initial promotional materials in very small quantities. Once you know what works and want to print, say 100 copies, it may be cheaper to have a local UPS or Staples or an online printer run them off for you. Your smartphone can be used to create snapshots or videos to publicize your process service business to people you know on Instagram or other social media platforms. And if you own a reliable vehicle, then you already have one of the most important physical assets to launch your process service business, particularly if you do not live in a metropolitan area with regular and reliable public transportation.
2. Make Money by Saving Time While Launching Your Process Service Startup
To increase your chances of success with your business, consider getting proper process server training through online or in-person programs. Your investment in such programs ensures that you have the right skills and knowledge to serve legal documents in the most efficient way and cut time spent per service. Why do things the hard way, particularly if you have little or no money to invest in your process service business? Wasting time while attempting to serve a respondent or getting affidavits ready translates into wasting money. The better equipped you are, the more efficient you become and the more money you will make as a process server. Learning and acquiring process service know-how teaches you to pay attention and minimize spending. It also helps you keep business costs down once you get your process service business going.
3. Work as a Process Server from Home
Many process servers complain that they are struggling to make ends meet, even though they have clients and they regularly serve legal documents. While the reasons behind this could be many, one key expense may be pulling you down and preventing you from seeing that profit. Renting office or retail space for your process service business is expensive and most times unnecessary. It is something you may want or need to do once you grow the business in the future and have solid savings in your business account. But when you are just starting out as a process server, find a way to work from home. If you work from home as a process server, your business will not need money for rent, utilities, and office furniture.
4. Conserve Your Cash as a Process Server
Yes, a faster computer might be nice. Or a new desk, a better camera, an expensive software package or cloud service. But make do with what you have and look for the lowest cost options for anything you need to acquire until you start bringing in paying customers for your process service business. Conserve cash by organizing your day better and being more efficient when setting your routine. Most legal documents need service attempts during the day if the address given is a business, or early in the morning or later in the evening if the address is a residence. In addition to making attempts to deliver the documents, process servers also need to dedicate time to prepare affidavits, to update their clients on the status of the services, to market themselves and in general, to run their business. Many process servers start making attempts early in the morning and work on their office work in the evenings. Such repetitive routine leads to deadlines being missed, affidavits and invoices being delayed, and ultimately leads to poor business outcomes. Instead, consider alternating your daily routine, where you work on your office and business duties in the morning, then begin attempts toward service at noon. Follow that with attempts early in the morning and office work in the afternoon the next day. Alternating your daily routine increases your due diligence toward service, maximizes your chances to catch a respondent home while it ensures that your office, marketing and business duties will not be neglected.
5. Use Free and Low-Cost Marketing Techniques
There are dozens of free and low-cost ways to market your process service business. Learn them and implement them before you start spending money on paid advertising via Google or any other search engines. Using free promotional strategies at first will help you gauge your marketing goals better, and it will help you start to understand what attracts or what motivates your customers to try your process services. Consider joining state and nationwide process service organizations and directories like PROServer list where competition for your local area is low due to its exclusivity which allows only three process servers to be included in each county served.
6. Do All the Process Service Work Yourself at First
Rely on your own sweat equity to start a process service business with no money. Expect long days and the need to learn how to do things you have not done before, such as marketing, selling, accounting or even building a website. You can learn how to do some of these tasks for free by searching the web or YouTube for “How to…” followed by the skill you need help with. Consider serving all legal documents yourself and hold off on hiring another process server until you have a good amount saved in your business account. Doing all these tasks yourself at first saves you money and will also help you understand what type of skills each activity requires when the business is making enough profit to hire office or process service help.
7. Start Simple
Your dream might include a pretty big process service business offering a wide variety of products and services and serving large-volume accounts, but for now, keep it simple. Focus on serving process and take excellent care of each and every client who trusts you with their legal documents. Build your customer base and later branch out into other products and services. One of the most expensive parts of running a process service business is acquiring customers. If you gain their trust with one service now, selling another one or attracting a new customer will become much easy.
8. Work for Somebody Else
Although they may not admit it, most process service business owners became entrepreneurs thinking they knew more than what they did. In fact, many process servers fail because the person was ill-equipped to build a successful business. Before you start your own process service business, make sure to complete what we call the 2 Factor Success Tools: know-how and field training. Know-how training builds your skills and knowledge necessary to build an efficient and successful process service business. Field training involves practical training of your know-how skills while attempting to serve legal documents. Working for someone else allows you to practice your process service skills while continuing to learn from other process servers' past experience. As a process server working for an agency, you will also gain insider knowledge of the industry that is valuable to the success of your own process service business.
9. Use Free Services
The Internet is full of high quality services you can use for free while launching and growing your process service business. Mailchimp is a powerful e-mail marketing platform that is free for the first 2,000 e-mail addresses. Wufoo allows you to make online forms, and although Facebook and other social media platforms will not put your ad in front of large amounts of people unless you pay, you can still gain some traction by telling people about your process service business or by joining Facebook groups and communities. There are also freelance platforms like Fiverr, Elance, and Upwork that have quality freelancers willing to help with logo and web design, and another service for cheap. You could get a logo made for $5!
Finally, go into your process service business endeavor with a hustling mindset. Be ready to do anything legal and ethical to get your business off the ground. Do not like cold calling? Do it anyway! Not a graphic designer? You can find templates online for just about anything. Do not want to do any free work? It might be worth it to get your name out there. If you do not have the money to pay for services, you have to do them yourself or find somebody who can and will do it for free.
Do not let a lack of funds discourage you from starting your process service business. You may have to work harder than someone with more financial resources, and it may take longer. But resourcefulness, creativity, hustle, and determination are often better predictors of success than money!