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Successful Startup Lessons Learned From My First Business

by Nellie Akalp



I, like many entrepreneurs, have run more than one successful business. My first company was also in the business filing industry. We did so well that Intuit bought the company back in 2005. Now, looking back, I realize there were several lessons that I learned with my first business that I carried through to my current one.




1. There’s Plenty of Room for Competition

Many business owners panic when they think about their competitors. After all, they might take away some of your market share, right? Not necessarily. My current company,, is technically competing with my former company, but there’s more than enough business for us both (plus our other competitors!). There’s always something you shine at that your competitors can’t beat. Own that, and you’ll dominate.


2. It’s Never Over

When I sold my last company and signed a non-compete agreement, I assumed I’d never work in the business filing industry again. Well, after trying on a lot of hats, I realized that this industry is what I know, and that I’m passionate about helping small business owners. And so I found myself back in the game after my non-compete ran out; only this time, I was even smarter.


3. Family Comes First

I work with my husband, so ours is a very family-oriented business. But it’s not just important that we can pick up our kids or be there for their extracurricular events. The “family first” motto also extends to our employees, who truly are our second family. We treat them with respect and are rewarded with staff that’s stayed with us for years.


4. If You Think It, Then It’s Possible

My husband and I, just like many famous startup founders, began our company in our garage. While it might have been a struggle to pay bills the first year, we did, and then some. Never let your own fears limit your thinking about entrepreneurship.


5. Vacations Are Vital

Every year, my family takes off to Hawaii. No excuses. We’ve learned that our team can manage our business while we’re gone, and that we’re better for having the time off. You won’t be any more successful if you work instead of take a vacation, trust me.


6. Your Passion is Essential

Yes, others can manage your business for you, but it’s your drive, your passion that really sets the stage for your company’s success. I’m the cheerleader of my own businesses, and when I’m excited, it’s infectious.


7. There’s No Denying an Entrepreneur’s Drive

When Intuit bought our company, I tried not working. I couldn’t. I missed having something to do, and I missed helping people. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about: making a change – however small – in someone else’s life. Try to stifle it and see how successful you are!


8. Never Be Too Egotistical to Learn from Mistakes

No one’s perfect. So rather than taking the hard, uphill road, why not learn when you make a mistake rather than brushing it under the rug? I’ve made plenty of my own mistakes, and I strive to take away a lesson so I don’t make the same one again later.


founderCorpNet-NellieAkalp-2012-HighResNellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of, 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.


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Nellie Akalp |

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