Real Career Girls: Nellie Akalp of CorpNet.com gives Entrepreneurial Inspiration
We are a generation of ideas. We are all trying to cook up the next big thing, and dreaming of setting up our own business. Our entrepreneurial spirit is soaring higher than ever, which makes it very important to find role models.
One role model whom I found really amazing was Nellie Akalp. Nellie is a serial entrepreneur, small business advocate, speaker and author. She is the founder & CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, where she helps entrepreneurs start, grow and maintain a business. In my interview with her, she exudes not just the air of success and ambition, but also a strong display of heart and passion. She is a dreamer and a go-getter, and it is a pleasure to have her here on Ms. Career Girl!
Nellie shares her expert tips with readers at Forbes, Entrepreneur and Mashable and is a regular guest expert on the Fox Small Business Center. She was named a Top 100 Small Business Influencer in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by Small Business Trends. Nellie has presented a workshop at Small Biz Expo and sat down with members of Girls in Tech, General Assembly and more to inspire and motivate others to make their business dreams a reality.
Read my interview with Nellie below!
Tell us about your career.
1 How did your journey as CEO of CorpNet.com start?
After we sold my first company to Intuit back in 2005, we took a few years off to spend time with the kids, work out and relax. We soon realized that we were too young, too bored, too passionate and too motivated to take on an early retirement so after our non-compete agreement with Intuit expired, we decided to get back into the document filing industry with the launch of CorpNet.com in 2009. We wanted to get back into the industry because that is where our passion and excitement lies…IN Small Business..…making people’s small business dreams into a reality!
We wanted to get back into the industry because that is where our passion and excitement lies…IN Small Business..…making people’s small business dreams into a reality!
2 What about your work would you consider that most gratifying or fulfilling?
I love small business; I love entrepreneurship and for me the most gratifying and fulfilling part of my job is that I get to work with startups and entrepreneurs all day long. I love that I get to help them in making their small business dreams into a reality and watch them blaze their own trails. To me, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing someone else’s true passion come to fruition and watch them become truly successful at it.
3 What would you say is the most important milestone of your company so far?
In business, I started a company in 1997 and sold it at the age of 30 for a very large sum of cash to a publicly traded company. Then took 3 years off and started all over again in 2009 from scratch and built my current company which is again one of the top players in my industry. I have been awarded as a top 100 small business influencer by Small Business Trends 3 consecutive years in a row since 2012 and I am able to contribute content for the highest esteemed outlets such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Mashable, and The Huffington Post to share small business and entrepreneurial tips with others.
In my personal life, my biggest accomplishment to date has been giving birth to my four beautiful children and being happily married to my husband and business partner of over 17 years.
Tell us your secret!
4 How does a woman like you keep it all together? Do you have a routine or trick to keep balance?
In my opinion it’s all about being organized, planning ahead and staying one step ahead of your game. I find that the ‘trick’ to staying balanced in life is to realize that there will be no perfect 50/50 balance. Sometimes things with work come up while I am with my family (it’s bound to happen especially since I am married to my husband and business partner) and sometimes things with the kids come up at work. You just have to take it one thing at a time, day by day. Yes, plan ahead, but know that plans don’t always work out perfectly. Staying as organized as possible will allow for hiccups here and there but for the road to still stay smooth.
5 What motivates and inspires you?
I have a ton of passion, patience, drive, and endurance for volatility and risk and for the unknown. I love small business. I love entrepreneurship. I love what I do and I am truly passionate about what I do because to be able to leave my little one at home and be away from her for 6-8 hours daily (even though I get visits from her to the office during lunch) and come to work each day and truly work for free (because I reinvest all the profits back in to my business right now in order to grow the business). You have to love and believe and be passionate about whatever it is you are doing if you are going to find success!
6 Who is your role model? Famous or not?
My husband and business partner of 21 years (married 17 years), Phil Akalp, 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, 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.
6 When you feel your absolute BEST, what are you wearing?
When I feel my absolute BEST, I am dressed in the color blue (light and dark blue or Navy) typically with leggings and a suit jacket. Something fun yet professional and edgy with heels or boots.
8 Do you have a personal mantra or motto you live by?
“Do what you love and love what you do each and every day… otherwise, why do it at all?”–Nellie Akalp
Give us some start-up advice!
- What was the biggest challenge to building your own start up?
Doing the things I love to do vs. the must do’s of the business. The bottom line is that as a small business owner, you have to do it all; certainly others can help you in the process and you can delegate a ton of it out, but at the end of the day, you still have to monitor it all as it’s “your” business. You just have to prioritize your days in such a way that you can hit those “have to tasks” weekly in between the tasks you love to do.
- Would you recommend any particular industries that aspiring entrepreneurs should be looking into?
I would recommend to go after what you are inspired by and passionate about. As an entrepreneur, you may have to do work without getting paid for it, so make sure you really love it!
- What is the one most important advice you would give a woman who wants to build her own start up?
My best advice for other entrepreneurs is to understand success is something you achieve based on how much you put into whatever it is that you would like to see success from. Certainly others can help you, just as others can provide obstacles, but ultimately you make your own success and your own failure. What I know for sure is that if you want to have success and be successful, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant – and the success will naturally follow. If you have the vision, drive, and the determination, and you immerse yourself into whatever it is that you are trying to do, you can and will accomplish that goal in the face of any obstacle or challenge, the rest will come.. And that in itself is success!!! I truly believe, that the reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money even to this day. I would do what I do today and not get paid for it…that is how much I love what I do and that’s how you know you are doing the right thing.