Plan ahead, stay organized, make sure there are strict boundaries with your family in place as to when it is work time for you and when its “free time” and make sure you have a dedicated work space at home that allows that opportunity to create and innovate. For me, I learned quickly in this pandemic that although I can run a business with my husband, we cannot work in the same office space together. As such, now we work in separate areas in our house and find it much less stressful.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nellie Akalp a passionate entrepreneur, business expert and mother of four. She is the CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource and service provider for business incorporation, LLC filings, and corporate compliance services in all 50 states. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for accountants, lawyers, and business professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I am a mom of four who is married to my husband and business partner of 23 years.
In 1997, fresh out of law school, my husband and I decided to become business partners and launched our first business with 100 dollars from our small apartment living room. We worked night and day and became very successful. In 2005 the business was acquired by Intuit for 20 million dollars.
We took a few years off to focus on our growing family and in 2009 we decided to get back into business with the launch of CorpNet.com where we help entrepreneurs incorporate, form LLCs, file DBAs and maintain other business filings.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
My husband and I didn’t come from a wealthy background. Everything we have today is from our hard work and perseverance as business owners. It’s interesting how starting businesses and growing them into successful companies bringing us a large income, didn’t change us as people. We are still the same as we were the day we started in 1997 in that tiny apartment. We view money as a tool to use to get us from point A to point B or letting us reinvest in our business. From a personal viewpoint, making money enabled my husband and I to build our family and to live a life beyond our wildest dreams and still doing so and it has also helped us pay it forward.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always working on new projects because we constantly must create and innovate to stay on top of our game in our industry. Right now, more than ever, people are trying to figure out how to survive and make ends meat as a result of this pandemic because in a sense, we are in the start of a recession. As such, projects that we are working on right now will continue to streamline and make simple the business startup and compliance process for both an up and coming entrepreneur or a business professional representing a client who wants to start a business
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people who have helped me achieve success in my life and still do. That said, my grandfather who passed a few years ago was very instrumental in my success as a leader and my entrepreneurial journey. Without him, I would not be where I am today and not be married to the love of my life, Phil Akalp, my husband and business partner. My grandfather is the person who made this all happen because he was a huge believer in providing the best life and education to his family and he was the single reason for our migration to the US. He taught me that failure is not an option and to always use it as the fuel to get back and try harder.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The biggest family related challenges I am facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic is patience, resilience and acceptance. I am learning as I go and there is no one right answer. All I can say is that everyone addresses things differently and my way is not the only right way, however, I have learned that acceptance is the key and learning to let go and not control everything is the best way that you will find happiness. Being at home with my family is a blessing in disguise, but it also has very challenging moments. Both with business and my family, I stay as positive as I can and that helps my family and employees keep any worrying at bay.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
I have always managed a tremendous amount of invisible labor — both at home and at our business. Because I hold a leadership role with my team, the expectation is that I should be able to “juggle it all” remains. This expectation was crazy prior to the pandemic, but now it has become simply impossible, but I think a lot of it is self-directed and we put it on ourselves. Reassuring my team that we will get through this, that I will not have to lay anyone off, and that we will work our butts off to keep business coming in the door has been my focus. Keeping everyone happy is a challenge, but I am doing the best I possibly can!
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I address these challenges by keeping a constant flow of communication with my team. Again I reassure them that we will get through this. I stay positive and upbeat. And I show my team how hard I am working to keep business coming in so they can see that I am not, and will not, give up no matter how long this pandemic continues.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Plan ahead, stay organized, make sure there are strict boundaries with your family in place as to when it is work time for you and when its “free time” and make sure you have a dedicated work space at home that allows that opportunity to create and innovate. For me, I learned quickly in this pandemic that although I can run a business with my husband, we cannot work in the same office space together. As such, now we work in separate areas in our house and find it much less stressful. For me what I tend to do is start my work day super early before dawn when everyone is sleeping and end my day around noon; it allows me to get a ton of work done and also spend the time I want with my kids and attend to their needs.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
When I am not working, I keep myself busy with projects around the house, daily exercise and quality time with my kids, whether it’s a bike ride around the lake or a simple walk around our neighborhood or cooking or baking. I really think in the long run these moments with my family will be ones I cherish. It’s rare that we are all in the house at once and I am soaking it up as much as I possibly can!
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the Light at the End of the Tunnel? Can you share your 5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
I personally see this pandemic as an opportunity for us all to come out as stronger, kinder and better people. It’s so easy to go go go. Someone is telling us to slow down and I’m listening! Here are some reasons to be hopeful:
- See it as Growth-as a result our company has grown leaps and bounds as a result of this pandemic with how many people are now starting a business
- See the Opportunities created as a result — we have created new products and services as a result
- See the Relationships created — we can spend more quality time with our children due to the quarantine
- See the Changes you have made as a result — I am being more consistent with taking care of my health and eating habits
- See how you can do more with Less- I am able to attend more to the projects and the books that I have always wanted to read or the project that I have wanted to complete and always procrastinate about because of going out
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Validate their fear and anxiety and re-assure them that they are safe and that we are all in this together. Remind them that we are taking all the precautionary measures to stay safe. The key is to validate them and acknowledge the fear because everyone feels differently and reacts differently, and this is a real situation that we are in.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Authenticity goes a long way in business!
Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have always been super authentic, genuine and real and have always made it a point to surround myself with real authentic good people. I apply the same values to my business when leading my team and serving our clients. The result…. Loyalty all the way, more clients, and more business and a multitude of success!
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!