Every business in the U.S. that’s registered with a state as a legal entity requires a registered agent. Registered agents accept important mail on a business’s behalf, including but not limited to; legal documents, tax documents, annual statements sent by the state, and service of process.
Registered agents are also known as statutory agents, resident agents, or agents for service of process. Becoming a registered agent or starting your own registered agent business comes with its own unique set of requirements, so to make things easier for you, we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help get you started.
With new start-ups and businesses popping up so frequently, there’s absolutely a demand for registered agents, and where there’s demand, there’s a niche to be filled. In the state of Delaware alone, there were 226,589 business entity formations in 2019. That’s a great deal of businesses in need of a registered agent.
Each state does, however, have their own rules and regulations when it comes to needing or becoming an agent. It’s crucial that you know these requirements for the state in which you’re conducting business. They include rules about residency, availability, and being able to accept and process documents correctly. In most cases, you can’t rent a mailbox or use the post office to receive mail or correspondence; you must have an official residency. All states accept entities to act as registered agents for another entity, including LLCs and corporations. These services need to properly register with the state to serve, just like any other business.
When you’re dealing with a company’s legal matters, you’re essentially dealing with their money and their livelihood. If you are starting your own registered agent business, not only do you yourself need to be trustworthy and reliable, but all other agents that you hire to work underneath you must maintain the same standards. You want to build a business that has a sturdy reputation, to help build up your clientele. Remember that you’re competing with other well-known businesses such as Northwest Registered Agent, who have years of experience. All it takes is for one client to recognize your superior level of reliability and organization for you to reach this level.
Understanding legal forms and jargon
While anyone off the street could work as a registered agent if they so desired, the key to offering a great service is knowing the terminology, and understanding everything that comes into your residency. Again, in this line of work, you’re dealing with people’s livelihood, and you need to be able to interpret what you’re reading. It is not your job to translate it, necessarily, but you’ll need to know all the key, relevant information at the very least. Some of the documents that you’ll be receiving are:
- Notice of lawsuits
- Official federal or state correspondence
- Tax notices from both local tax authorities and the IRS
- Court summons
- Wage garnishing notices (if a company needs to withhold part of an employee’s wages and send them somewhere or to someone whom the employee owes money)
- Corporate filing notifications
Both the company and the registered agent could face severe ramifications if some of these documents are not attended to or delivered and answered correctly. Many of them have filing requirements and time frames, and must be handled with the utmost care.
Seriously consider your pricing options, and who your target client is. If you’re just starting out, you might not be able to compete with larger or even mid-size agents, as they offer services to companies that can afford to spend a little more. However, start-ups and small businesses might not be able to cover those costs, and would therefor opt for a freelance or individual registered agent. Fair pricing could help to hone in on this market, by offering professional services at reasonable rates. Ideally, you don’t want to undersell, but the most important part of starting a registered agent business is gaining clients.
Regardless of your registered agent business’s size or what prices you land on, you’ll always want to offer the best services available. Most LLCs or corporations can be picky when it comes to choosing a registered agent; they have boxes of their own that they need to tick. They’ll likely be looking for a service that’s reliable, organized, trustworthy, and responsible. Your business will not only be dealing with all the important mail listed above, but also direct correspondence with the companies you’re working with, and helping to maintain copies of all important compliance documents, such as:
- Annual reports
- Articles of incorporation or organization
- Operating agreements
It’s important to ensure that your business is operating within this century, by offering online access as well as paper access. In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, you’ll want to stay updated on all the digital platforms used by your clients, and your business as well.
When you’re dealing with people’s jobs, businesses, and overall livelihood, all matters must be taken very seriously. Your registered agent business has to meet all the requirements mandated by the state in which you’re conducting your business. The best way to approach the start of your business is to push for reliability, offering a fair price and having the knowledge or qualifications to understand all the information that you’re dealing with.
Strive to offer all potential clients the best. Most businesses are looking for responsible, trustworthy, and organized individuals or businesses to handle important documents. Their business is in your hands, so give them the peace of mind that their company is safe.