Thinking about opening a court reporting business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Freelance Court Reporting: Filling a Private Sector Niche
From an entrepreneurial perspective, business is booming in the U.S. legal system. The courts are backlogged, ensuring a steady and unfortunately growing demand for competent court reporters.
Official court reporters are salaried workers employed by the state to transcribe court proceedings into official, written form. Although court reporting businesses may have opportunities to contract with the state to handle court overloads, most court reporting startups find their stride in the private sector.
Arbitration, legal meetings, depositions and other transcription opportunities are bread and butter earning opportunities for court reporting startups. Leveraging their basic legal reporting skill set, many startups ultimately expand their organizations to other private sector niches including media captioning, CART services (for hearing impaired students) and webcasting.
Building a Profitable Court Reporting Business
It's common for court reporting entrepreneurs to emerge from the ranks of experienced court reporters. But building a vibrant and profitable court reporting business requires a different approach than performing first-rate court reporting as an employee of the state. From the beginning, you will need to re-envision yourself as both a court reporter and a business owner, successfully transitioning from a "job" mentality to a business ownership mentality.
Often, an increase in profitability is connected to hiring. As a small business employer, you will need to learn how to effectively recruit and retain talented court reporters. Just as importantly, you will need to learn how to engage your team in your court reporting firm's daily operations and growth strategies. Although employee engagement can be time-consuming, the payoff is greater commitment to your organization and customers as well as the potential for increased profitability.
Court Reporting Trade Associations
Both the private and public court reporting sectors rely on trade organizations for resources and industry connections. As a startup entrepreneur in the court reporting industry, you'll want to establish connections with these trade associations ASAP.
The National Verbatim Reporters Association offers certification, events and other support resources for court reporters who specialize in voice writing. The National Court Reporting Association is the other major trade organization with certification and resources for a wider scope of court reporting professionals.
Tips for Writing a Court Reporting Company Business Plan
Many new court reporting business owners feel unprepared for the challenge of writing a business plan.
Fortunately, you don't have to tackle your court reporting company's business plan by yourself. These days, there are tons of great resources and solutions available to support the business plan writing process.
Our Business Plan Help section discusses some of the business plan resources other entrepreneurs have found useful.
Evaluate the Competition
Before you open a court reporting business in your area, it's a smart move to see how strong the competition is. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors near you. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of court reporting businesses in your community.
Is the local market large enough to support another court reporting business? If not, you had better be sure that you are doing things much better than the competition.
Talk to People Who Are Already in the Business
After you've evaluated your local competitors, you really ought to have a conversation with someone who is in the business. If you think owners of nearby court reporting businesses will give you advice, think again. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
But, a person who owns a court reporting business in a different city can be a great learning resource for you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
So, what can you do to find a court reporting business founder that lives outside of your area?
Simply, try our helpful link below, type in a random city/state or zipcode, and start calling.
Pros & Cons of Buying a Court Reporting Business
An acquisition can be a great way to enter court reporting business ownership. But it's important to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of buying a business before you decide on either an acquisition or startup approach.
BENEFITS: A good court reporting business will deliver revenue and ROI from day one. Even more, the right court reporting business acquisition can place you in a market leadership position from your first days as a business owner.
CONs: However, purchased companies can also come with pre-existing challenges and/or liabilities. Ultimately, it may be more difficult to tailor a purchased business to your ownership style.
Is Franchising the Right Option?
As an entrepreneur, your chances doing well in business increase when you choose to franchise in lieu of doing everything yourself.
If your goal is to start a court reporting business, you would be wise to check out whether buying a franchise could help you on your entrepreneurial journey.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing court reporting business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to court reporting businesses, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are still exploring all of your options, please browse our directory of guides below.