[quote style=”boxed”]Take risks and know that you will fail a ton of times before you succeed but when you succeed, it is the most amazing experience in the world that you will ever experience.[/quote]
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of CorpNet, a legal document filing service, Nellie helps entrepreneurs start a business, incorporate, form an LLC or set up Sole Proprietorships (DBAs) for a new or existing business. She has formed more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the U.S., building a strong passion to assist small business owners in starting, running, and protecting their small businesses the right way.
What are you working on right now?
I am serial entrepreneur so I work on a ton of things at once because I can’t sit still. More specifically my two goals for this month are 5 new content videos and optimizing our sales force and new free corporate compliance tool which we just launched a few months ago.
Where did the idea for CorpNet.com come from?
I’ve always been passionate about helping entrepreneurs navigate the murky waters of small business ownership. I have been in the document filing industry since 1997 when I started my first business. When that company was sold to Intuit, my husband/business partner and I decided we really had the passion for helping new entrepreneurs succeed so got back into the industry in 2009 with CorpNet.com. It is a much different market than when we started years ago, but I am loving every minute of the process of building our new business alongside helping others in their entrepreneurial path.
How do you make money?
Our business model at Corpnet.com is pretty simple, we offer online business filing services to new and existing business owners who want to start a business or keep an existing business in compliance with state and federal filings. We have an online storefront whereby orders are taken online through various form of marketing initiatives including PPC, direct marketing, social media and word of mouth.
What does your typical day look like?
I am a working mother of four who balances changing diapers, packing lunches and taking my kids to school with running my small business. A typical day for me starts off by dropping my kids off to school and getting into the gym by 8:15 and doing a 1 hour circuit training type work out, then going into the office and completing various tasks on a daily basis most of which is meeting and getting updates from lead team members on sales, productivity, and assigned projects. Every day varies; some days my schedule is jam packed with interviews and podcasts, alongside checking emails and updating social profiles. I end the day around 3:30when I pick up my kids from school and back to mommy duty with their after school activities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Passion. It starts with loving an idea and being passionate about it enough to invest the time into bringing it into existence even if I had to do it for free. If the answer is yes, then I pursue it further and then it really boils down to is it going to make the end users life simpler and will it have a positive effect in the small business community. With the case of CorpNet.com, everything answered to a ‘yes’ and we really saw a lack of our service offerings in the industry so decided to pursue further. Now here we are 4 years later.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Creating something out of nothing and seeing it explode and making a difference in people’s life by making it simpler for them.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Working at a family law firm an hour away from home getting paid minimum wage and constantly being put down by others. This was the best learning experience for me in that it taught me to treat my employees with respect and to recognize that everyone has their positives and negatives and if you want to inspire your employees to be loyal to you and to your customers, you have to treat them right and as an individual. It also taught me to never let people discourage you from your dreams and keep your eye on the prize. While I was working there, I was in the process of launching our first company the head attorney laughed at me when I told him about my idea and was rather sarcastic about it and oh well the rest is history and you can kind of play the tape out as to how that whole thing went down. He is still working in the law from putting in 80 hours a week.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Not much because then I would not be where I am today. However, I would choose my friends and colleagues more carefully and be less quick to make rash decisions on the fly.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take risks and know that you will fail a ton of times before you succeed but when you succeed, it is the most amazing experience in the world that you will ever experience.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Following old ways of doing things in a new era and a new market as the new kids on the block in a very overly saturated industry. As a result of the failure, I quickly reacted, conferred with colleagues and changed our business model and course of action with positive results.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Come up with an application that allows you to compare products and services in the store on the fly as you are going through product isles.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Making sure that everyone delivers on what they promise to deliver…ie …do what you are going to say that you are going to do. Hold anyone who is selling a product or a service to a 100% money back guarantee no questions asked to ensure you will get what you were promised.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am overly sensitive and working on being less of a people pleaser. I love doing for people and making people happy. I hate seeing people in pain and if I see a person crying or in sadness, I go out of my way to stop and try to help them.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
CorpNet’s BIZ which us our companies free business monitoring and corporate compliance tool that will show you important due dates and deadlines for tax filings, annual reports due, and so much more!! It’s really a fantastic tool that can save business owners and entrepreneurs money by knowing when all the important due dates are. Hoot suite —allows me to manage my social media platforms very easily. Constant contact – I love the fact that I can email content at a click of a button
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Toney Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness because it will truly teach you how you can build a company by offering exemplary customer service and providing a happy work environment for your employees who are the corner stone of your business.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Anita Campbell – an amazing women and small business influencer
Melinda Emerson – Another amazing small business leader who shares great insight and tips for success
AllBusiness.com – Great tweets from a blog that I contribute with resources and tools for entrepreneurs and new small biz owners
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Today. My Husband and business partner Phil Akalp who makes me laugh every minute of my laugh.
Who is your hero, and why?
My husband and business partner of 15 years is my most important role model. Phil is my best friend, my soul mate and most importantly the best role model for me in that he always pushes me to continuously improve myself in all aspect of my life whether business or personal. Even though sometimes he may be a tough critic and can be taken as being mean sometimes, he has a genuine heart and truly wants me to be the best that I can be in anything I set my mind to. He has made a huge impact in my life. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the wife, mother, and business expert I am today.
What is your number one tip when it comes to incorporating a business?
Many small businesses consider themselves ‘too small’ to worry about incorporation. My number one tip is to know that no business is too small. Even if you’re a self-employed social media consultant or a landscaper, incorporating or forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) can be a smart idea. Benefits of incorporating include Liability protection, tax savings, business credibility and business credit/capitol.
How do you stay sane balancing your family and business?
My biggest challenge is sometimes bringing my work life into my home life because I am so passionate about what I do and not being able to shut off my mind after work hours, but I have been working on it and its getting to be more manageable .What I find really helps is being extremely well organized at the office and at home with my four children. Making sure my calendar is up to date and I know what’s planned for the week keeps me afloat and avoids too many surprises. I also make sure I take a few minutes to myself every day to really stop and reflect. That ‘me’ time is crucial.
CorpNet on Twitter: @corpnet
CorpNet on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corpnet
Nellie Akalp on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nellieakalp
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.