It was a hot day and Nellie Akalp was exhausted. So when she arrived home from working her $10-an-hour job to find her soon-to-be husband, Philip, sitting in the air conditioning playing games on his computer, she was more than a little upset.
“I was in a three-piece suit, torn panty hose, makeup running in a little Honda CRX with no air conditioning,” Akalp says. “We’re talking 110 degrees outside. I just looked at him and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. You either have to get a job or we have to think about going our own separate ways.’”
Philip was no couch potato. He was in law school at Pepperdine University, but during his down time, he loved computer games. He didn’t have a job, however, and that was a big problem on this particular day. Fortunately, he had a solution in mind.
“He looks at me and says, ‘I have an idea. I need $100,’” Akalp says. “I said, ‘Oh no, you need money again?’ And he says, ‘No, seriously, I think I have the answer to our problems.’”
Philip wanted to start a business, and he needed the money to buy the domain name to get things moving with it.
“So at that time, MyCorporation.com, our first business, was born,” Akalp says. “We started it out of our two-bedroom apartment right around where we are today. We started it with a one-page website and before we knew it, Phil was off taking the bar exam and I was hiring law school interns to come in and help me grow the business. As a result, we were able to buy our first house.”
The duo built MyCorporation into a sustainable business, but the entrepreneurial drive was too strong for either Akalp or Philip to stay put. They sold the company and set out to find their next challenge, which turned out to be CorpNet.com.
“I’m one of those people who always likes to be disruptive and innovative and really come out with something that the market doesn’t have,” says Akalp, co-founder and CEO of the online legal document filing service.
Be open to new ideas
One of the key rules that a good entrepreneur always keeps in mind, but often finds hard to follow, is that each business is different. CorpNet is different from MyCorporation. And one retail business, even if it sells exactly the same product, is going to be different than another.
“As entrepreneurs, we sometimes have this ego that, ‘Oh, we’ve done it before. We can do it again,’” Akalp says. “We sometimes follow our old models and old paths. No one particular business that you have started is going to be the exact same business as another.
“That’s not to say you can’t look at other businesses in the same industry and take pointers and guidance. But do not apply the same business model in a different business to your current business. Oftentimes, it may not work for you.”
One of the reasons Akalp and her husband work so well together is the fact that they aren’t afraid to call each other out when they see the other doing something wrong. Akalp is a regular guest on Fox Business offering her perspective on entrepreneurship.
“Sometimes he’ll look at me and go, ‘That wasn’t your strongest appearance,’” Akalp says. “He always pushes me to continue to improve myself in all aspects of my life, whether it’s business or personal. With CorpNet, because of the content I put out there and how we’ve positioned the company and myself as a small business expert, he has really pushed me to go after my own personal brand in being a small business expert.”
Find your passion
The key, whether in business or in your personal development, is to always keep your mind open to getting better, Akalp says.
“If it wasn’t for him and he wasn’t my biggest critic and biggest supporter, I wouldn’t be the wife, mother and business expert that I am today,” she says.
CorpNet has been doing more than 2,500 units a month and continues to grow “by leaps and bounds,” says Akalp.
It hasn’t always been easy, she says, as you sometimes wonder whether it’s ever going to happen. But Akalp likes to think those challenges just make success all the more sweet.
“If you’re trying to go into entrepreneurship to become an overnight success, I would say cut your losses and don’t do it,” Akalp says. “Entrepreneurship is about doing something that you believe in and that you’re passionate and determined to make happen.” ●
How to reach: CorpNet.com, (888) 892-0311 or www.corpnet.com