Business Overview

These businesses are necessary because most businesses have a need for data entry, information tracking, organization, and analysis. Popular websites offer jobs that can be bid on by data entry businesses, which then enter data for any company that needs it. Most large companies contract with independent data entry companies for either part-time or full-time data entry needs.

Who is this business right for?

This business is best suited to business owners with strong managerial skills. If you plan on owning a one-person business, you should also be comfortable using a variety of popular spreadsheet and word processing programs. Running a data entry business is typically a “9-to-5 job,” but may also include weekends and nights based on the project.

What happens during a typical day at a data entry business?

Day-to-day activities of a data entry company include processing requests from customers and, of course, data entry. Most of an employee’s time is spent working at his or her desk organizing, sorting, entering, and manipulating data.

The owner of the company may be involved in marketing, so most of his or her time would be spent managing client relationships and attracting new clients.

What is the target market?

Preferred customers are larger corporate clients or those with ongoing data entry needs. The worst types of clients for this business are smaller accounts or businesses that have sporadic cash flows and cannot afford to pay for ongoing data entry services.

How does a data entry business make money?

A data entry company makes money by charging clients for data entry services.

What is the growth potential for a data entry business?

A data entry company can remain small, with just one or two people operating the business. These kinds of businesses typically take on a handful of clients and establish a relationship with them that lasts for years. A lot of businesses stay small like this forever.

As the client base grows, however, some companies decide to hire staff to assist with the workload. These companies can scale easily as long as they continue hiring data entry specialists, HR support, and management that is sufficient to handle the growth of the company.

An example of a large data entry company would be ARDEM Incorporated or Invensis. These companies are global, working with international corporations. So, the theoretical upper limit is huge.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful data entry business?

Data entry companies require specialists who are skilled in typing and data entry, scanning, manipulating documents and data, organizing, and other office-related skills. Proficiency in a variety of spreadsheet and word processing applications is usually a must. Good communications skills are necessary as is the ability to meet tight and changing deadlines.

What are the costs involved in opening a data entry business?

The cost involved in starting a data entry company is minimal. That’s because they can be run from home, or operated out of an office on a larger scale. Today’s data entry businesses operate mostly or entirely online.

All that’s needed is a computer and an Internet connection. These costs can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the computer purchased.

What are the steps to start a data entry business?

Once you're ready to start your data entry business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your data entry business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your data entry business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  5. Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
  6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  8. Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a data entry business?

Jump starting a data entry business is difficult. Because it has almost no startup costs, competition for jobs is fierce in this field. Because this business is entirely online, there is also a sizable risk of scams.

Convincing the marketplace that you’re a legitimate company will make it a lot easier. Realize you are operating in an industry that is seen as untrustworthy simply because of the number of scam artists operating amongst legitimate businesses.

Start small. Get reviews from reputable and well-known companies or companies whose contact details are very easy for potential customers to check.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a data entry business

Promoting your data entry business will involve a combination of strategies and tactics. Most data entry companies can start out using direct mail or online pay-per-click advertising. As word of mouth grows, companies don’t need to rely as much on paid traffic to websites and can instead leverage organic reach and referral marketing, including email marketing.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Differentiating your services from others in your space is difficult. This is an industry known for its sameness across competitors. Stand out by offering more value rather than lowering price.

Another way to differentiate yourself is by specializing your company and services. Some firms choose to specialize in certain industries. This allows them to charge more for certain services, create a customized menu of services for clients in a specific industry, and offer value that general data entry companies cannot.

How and when to build a team

Building a team is never necessary. However, if you want to become a large data entry company, you should consider starting with a small staff of at least 3 to 5 people and expand as your budget allows. The most important personnel are the data entry specialists, followed by HR staff.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a data entry business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For more information about local licenses and permits:

Service Agreement

Data entry businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example service agreement.

Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your data entry business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.

Certificate of Occupancy

A data entry business may be run out of an office. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.  

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a data entry business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your data entry business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Data entry companies typically charge customers an hourly rate or a “Full-Time Equivalent” (FTE) rate. FTE rates are usually a flat fee per month for services.

Rates for services can also vary depending on specific services. For example, catalog management, data entry, scanning, and data mining services may fit on one “tier” of services, which the business can charge $7-$10 per hour for.

A company may also decide to offer FTE rates of between $1,000 and $2,000 per month for ongoing services.

More advanced data manipulation and management services may warrant higher charges of between $10 and $20 per hour, or $3,000 to $6,000 per month.

What are the ongoing expenses for a data entry business?

Ongoing expenses for this type of business are low and limited to utility costs for running the business, computer maintenance, repair, and replacement, rent, and insurance. These ongoing costs can be as little as a few hundred dollars per month to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the business.

How much profit can a data entry business make?

A data entry business can have a high profit margin. However, it all depends on how quickly your employees can finish jobs. Profit margins of 5% or less may be typical for a startup with little experience. However, those margins can grow to over 20% if processes are streamlined.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Making a data entry business more profitable usually means either specializing in one sector or niche or offering more value for the money. For example, a data entry business that specializes in the healthcare industry may be able to charge its clients more money because the company needs specialized knowledge of its customers’ industry — knowledge that isn’t widely available in the general data entry market.

Next Steps

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