“The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even greater if you go for it!”

Q&A with Nellie Akalp

When I was approached by Nellie Akalp’s publicist about featuring her story in an interview for my blog, I was immediately impressed. Not only did phrases like “serial entrepreneur” and “mother of four” jump out at me as someone I could definitely relate to, but as I read her story I realized she was one working mom from whom I could also learn a thing or two.

Nellie Akalp started her first business with $100 and sold it 8 years later for millions. If I don’t have your attention yet, instead of retiring early, Nellie got back into the industry with the launch of her current business, now recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held companies in America.

I chatted with Nellie about her entrepreneurial story and how she and her husband started a business literally from nothing and grew it into a multi-million dollar venture, only to turn around and do it all over again while raising their four children!

Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

I’m an entrepreneur, mother of four, author, speaker, and business expert. As the founder and CEO of CorpNet.com I work with entrepreneurs daily to help them start, grow and maintain their businesses. CorpNet is an online legal document filing service that provides new and existing business owners with the most cost effective and comprehensive products and services for starting a business whether it be setting up a sole proprietorship/partnership, incorporating or setting up an LLC, or running and even expanding a business. We help entrepreneurs incorporate, form LLCs, file DBAs and more on a daily basis. For those with an existing business CorpNet.com can help with corporate compliance to ensure the business owner is kept up to date on important due dates each year.

Before CorpNet, you ran a success company that was eventually acquired by Intuit for $20 million. Why’d you head back to work?

After my non-compete ran out with the old company, I realized that I was too bored, too passionate and way too young to take on an early retirement! Plus I was still so deeply in love and passionate about small business and helping other entrepreneurs start their startups, so I decided to start it all over again with CorpNet.com. It’s never been about the money for me; it’s about creating something out of nothing and watching it explode and create solutions that solves problems.

You’ve helped hundreds of thousands of businesses get off the ground. From your experience, what’s the biggest factor holding back future business owners?

I think what holds most entrepreneurs back is the lack of willingness to take risks. Being too afraid to try new things, implement ideas, think big or looking stupid in front of friends, colleagues and loves ones really causes people to hold off on going after their business dreams and goals. The risks may be big and scary, but the rewards are even GREATER if you go for it!

Have you ever failed? How did you overcome it?

I have failed more than a hundred times and I am still not done failing. In order to be successful, failure is definitely a pre-requisite to absolute true success. I look at failure as a message that there are bigger and better opportunities lying ahead that must be seized, and seldom look at it as a negative. In a nutshell, failure is a part of life, if you don’t fail, you will never learn, if you don’t learn, you can never change and evolve as a person.

What is the best part about being an entrepreneur?

The ability to do the things you love to do the most and being able to do it on your own time and terms without any limitations is really, in my opinion, the best! In addition, being able to have it all, raising children and having an amazing career all at the same time, where I can inspire and motivate other mommy entrepreneurs that you can have it all is just the best!

What does a typical day look like for you?

In my life, trying to balance running a very fast-paced, growing business, and balancing it with managing a household of 4 kids and having a healthy marriage requires planning and routine. Here is a rough snapshot:

6:00am – wake up, shower and drink coffee, make breakfast for kids, check email
6:30am – wake up kids
7:00am – feed kids
7:20am – take kids to school
7:45am – get to gym and workout
9:00am – work till 3:00
3:00pm – pick up my daughter and spend one-on-one time with her until we pick up other three kids from middle school and high school
3:45pm – pick up the three other kids take everyone to get a snack
4:30pm – get home and help with homework and start dinner if no games after school
6:00pm – dinner with family
7:00pm – take kids to dance or other after school activities (either my husband or I while the other attends to the other kids and does homework)
9:00pm – bedtime for kids
9-11:00pm – me time where I make myself a tea, take a bath and time with Phil where we watch a movie or just chat about the day
11:00pm – bedtime for me and it starts all over again the next morning!


Your husband is also your business partner. How do you split the responsibilities at work and at home?

It’s all about being organized, planning ahead and staying one step ahead of your game. Work stuff will come up at home and family stuff will come up at work. It’s bound to happen – after all, I am married to my husband and business partner! For us though, we don’t try and totally separate the two because that just makes things more complicated. We deal with what comes up as it arises. If you plan ahead and know your schedule and stuff does come up, you’re more prepared on how to deal with it if you do. Again, a total balance should never be the key, but you should try to have both aspects of your life exist in harmony.

You have four kiddos. Has becoming a mom influenced your professional goals?

Absolutely 150%! It makes me want to work even harder, but more efficiently and qualitatively because time is so scarce and these kids grow up so fast. I know my time is limited with them. I want to spend every waking minute with them when they are not at school or not at an after school sport or activity. It also has made my #1 goal be that I will never ever work for anyone else and will always be my own boss.

What do you hope they take away from your success?

I want my children to know that true success comes from a ton of hard work and never giving up. If you fail, it’s not the failure that matters. It’s how you rise from it and get up that makes you a winner.

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

The three things I would share with working moms are:

  1. Set Goals Early and Often. I think a lot of new entrepreneurs don’t think about setting goals when they first start out. They just want to get the business started and begin making money. But setting goals is a really easy way to set your sights on where you want to go. You might not hit your sales target for the quarter, but if you do your best to get there, you’ll likely do better than you would have without that goal. And don’t just set one goal and leave it at that. I like to set new goals every year and even every month to keep myself and my team moving in the right direction.
  2. Be Willing to Take Risks. You’re already a bit open to risks, or you wouldn’t be starting a business! But don’t be afraid to try new things, implement ideas, and think big. The risks may be bigger, but so will the rewards.
  3. Protect Yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have told new entrepreneurs to protect your business and yourself! Forming a corporation or filing an LLC is such a simple thing to do, but the benefits extend long beyond your first year and it’s the best way to protect your personal assets should your business be sued down the line.

What keeps you sane?

Plan a vacation, even if it’s tough. Set boundaries with technology. Make time to exercise. Take Breaks during the day. Prioritize your day and limit your tasks and goals to 3-5 per day. Don’t try to control everything and just go with the flow. Reduce distractions during the day. Establish a firm “end time” to your day {and work week}. Physical and emotional wellbeing is really important, but getting spiritual something is also a huge must for me. It keeps me present and in tune with my higher power.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I don’t think I have it all and even if I did, I would still want more! I would still want to work, because it has never ever for one minute been about the money for me. We could have retired after our first business was acquired and I’m sure many people would have. But for us, it just didn’t work and I didn’t feel like I “had it all.” Yes, I like to be able to go to bed at night knowing that I have money to pay my bills and have no stress. But, more important to me is being able to watch and see people’s lives change and transform in the work I do and services I provide. That’s why I still work and still run a business!

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

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