Successful entrepreneurs: Nellie Akalp turns $100 into $20 million

by | Entrepreneur Success

Successful entrepreneurs: Nellie Akalp turns $100 into $20 million

1997: Nellie Akalp completes law school and spends $100 on a domain name for an online legal document filing service that she runs with her husband.

2005: Intuit buys her company for $20 million dollars.

So, how does the couple respond? “Entrepreneurship runs in our blood,” Nellie says, “so instead of retiring early, we got back into the game in 2009 with the launch of, where we help other entrepreneurs, daily, to start, grow and maintain their businesses.”

We decided to pick Nellie’s brain about common traits that she sees in successful entrepreneurs. Her responses are as follows:

  • Thought leaders: You must lead the pack with new and innovative ideas.
  • Organized: You must organize every single inch of your business and know what is happening, inside out.
  • Fearless: You must take charge and not be afraid of any ‘what-ifs.’ If you start to think about all of the ‘what-ifs’ that could happen, they will overwhelm you and hold you back from success.

Nellie comes from a family of business owners who taught her that she could successfully be her own boss. “You need to always be thinking. When you’re working out, you’re thinking. Showering? Thinking.”

successful entrepreneurs: always thinking

“You need to always be thinking.” (Nellie Akalp)

She also keeps it streamlined and simple. When Nellie works with an entrepreneur, her goal is to help them with innovative solutions that simplify their lives so that they can focus on business growth. For example, when someone is starting a company, he or she may wonder about the best structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and so forth). “In that case, I share an app from lawyers and accountants that can figure that issue out.”

She also offers plenty of free resources, such as a:

Entrepreneurs, Nellie says, also need to simplify their personal lives so that they can effectively focus enough attention on their companies. “I work with my husband as a team,” she says, “and I am completely anal retentive. For me, everything needs to be in place, everything needs to start on time. My office needs to be clear, my inbox empty. Phil, though, is creative. He is successful at what he does – and he’s also a scatterbrain.”

The solution? “We got an assistant for Phil to remind him when to go to meetings, when to pick up the kids. Meanwhile, I work much better by myself, planning ahead and dealing with an issue as soon as it crosses my desk. Whatever system works for you as far as organization – an iPhone, sticky note pads, whatever – use it. Choose a tool and run with it. Don’t let work pile up because then all can get hairy and cause you to lose focus over true business goals. If you can afford it, hire support staff.”
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Focus, focus, focus!

Another key aspect of successful entrepreneurship is focus. One of Nellie’s clients is Michelle Vrakelos of M6 Fitness. “She’s a leading fitness coach and trainer,” Nellie says, “and the programs she provides are transformational. Yet, she wants to do it all and so can’t focus on one thing. But, with a month of true focus, she accomplished more than she did in six previous years of business. My job was to keep her focused on quality versus quantity.”

Harness failure

no overnight success

“The instant millionaire is gone,” says Nellie. “Instead, focus on what other people think about your product or service. Focus on being true, on generating word of mouth.” 

Nellie points out that the fear of failure stops many entrepreneurs. “Starting a business can be a very scary process. A fear of failure causes someone to worry about the bottom line but, the reality is that, without some failure, there isn’t any success. Failure can pave your way to success, but you have to have the stomach to deal with the fear and realize that there are challenges to be solved. I’ve failed many times. I am not done failing. But, I’m also not done succeeding, either, and I wouldn’t be who I am without failure. A true entrepreneur rides the waves.”

Passion is key

“Whatever product or service you start out with,” she says, “you need to be in love with it, believe in it until it’s your reality. If you don’t love it, you can’t expect others to be passionate, either. I am successful because people see my genuineness when I provide service. I love my job, I love my business, and I am determined about my message.”

Interestingly enough, Nellie echoes a recent theme featured on a recent MP Star Financial blog post: don’t focus on becoming an overnight success. “The instant millionaire is gone,” she says. “Instead, focus on what other people think about your product or service. Focus on being true, on generating word of mouth.”

Bottom line

entrepreneurial success: bottom line

“Success is achieved by the effort you put in,” Nellie says. “Others can help you – and others can provide obstacles – but you are the one who makes your own successes and failures. And, don’t make success your goal. Instead, work towards being significant and success will naturally follow.”

She also suggests a testing period before going “full force” into your business. “Test it with people who would ultimately write you a check, NOT friends and family who wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. Test with potential buyers to get genuine feedback.”

Looking for the company that helps you to boost cash flow management through invoice factoring – with no hidden fees? Apply online now.

Find out what other entrepreneurs are saying about how to be successful – and thanks, Nellie Akalp, for your insights!

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