Document preparation businesses provide business and personal customers with a range of services, including preparation of business and legal documents, word processing, editing, proofreading and desktop publishing, according to research firm IBISWorld. To start a business, you need the skills and equipment for desktop publishing and word processing, as well as an understanding of the structure and content of business documents. Marketing and management skills are essential to win customers and run a profitable business.
As the IBISWorld report indicates, document preparation services can take many forms. To identify the services you can offer, assess your experience. If you plan to offer legal document preparation, you must have an understanding or experience of legal matters. In certain states -- California, for example -- you may have to obtain a license to provide legal documentation services. You also need to be familiar with production techniques and programs so you can process documents efficiently. With editing and proofreading experience, you can offer to check existing documents for clients.
Based on your experience, skills and market demand, draw up a list of services. Include optional additional services to provide additional revenue opportunities. If you offer a service writing or editing business reports, for example, you could offer graphic design services, color printing or special binding to improve the quality of presentation.
Much of your time will be spent writing or editing documents. Buy a personal computer or laptop, together with word processing or publishing software, so you can work quickly and produce the finished results clients want. If clients just want simple text documents, word processing programs are sufficient. If they want to incorporate complex tables, photographs and graphics, buy appropriate publishing software and ensure your computer has the memory and processing power to handle graphics. You may need software that permits you to read and complete forms electronically. A laser printer lets you provide clients with low volume black and white copies of simple documents. However, you may prefer to use a copier business or print firm to produce finished copies of more complex documents -- or to produce large quantities -- rather than invest in more sophisticated printers.
Set up a website to increase the reach of your business and improve convenience for your customers. By providing a facility on your website for clients to upload documents or reference material for editing and production, you can offer your services throughout the country and overseas. The website is also a place where clients can store and manage their documents securely. Use the website to market your services by describing the benefits of using a professional service to prepare documents. If you prepare grant proposals or business plans, for example, include case studies explaining why a professional document can increase chances of success.