5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Running my Business

July 16th, 2014 by
Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Running my Business

By Nellie Akalp

Unlike many business owners, I don’t fear the mistakes I make. Instead, I take them as valuable lessons to help me get it right next time. I’m constantly looking for lessons in everything I do so I can continue to be useful and relevant to my company’s customers. And speaking of my company, CorpNet, we recently celebrated our 5th birthday, a milestone that I am quite proud of.

Here are five of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in running CorpNet for the past five years.

1. Just Because You’re Small Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Compete

If you’ve ever looked at big corporations – or even bigger small businesses – and thought, I can’t compete with them. I’m just a one-woman show! you’re certainly not alone. But I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can compete against the big boys. I’ve written before about how you can make your business look bigger than it is. I’ll just add one more piece of advice: have confidence. It tells people you know what you’re doing and instills trust. And that’s the key to getting people to buy from you.

2. You Can Never Brand Yourself Too Much

I put a lot of energy into getting my name out into the small business community. I’m constantly booked with news opportunities or writing guest posts for well-known blogs. All of this isn’t to stroke my ego; it’s to establish myself as a small business expert and introduce people to my company.

I’ve learned that it’s an ongoing effort. I’m lucky in that I have a fabulous staff who I can trust with the day-to-day operations of my business so that I can focus on building our brand. If you’re a solopreneur, you might not have that luxury, but it’s still important to focus on branding yourself consistently.

3. Work/Life Balance is Possible if You Try for It

I don’t buy people saying work/life balance is a myth. It’s all about priorities. If your family isn’t #1, you can’t blame anyone but yourself if you feel you’re at the office more than with them. My husband (and co-founder) Phil and I put family first, and we’ve managed to successfully run CorpNet and keep our brood of children happy.

4. Relationships Are Everything

Every customer that calls our offices is a potential relationship. I tell my staff this. We’re not dealing with sales or numbers. We’re dealing with people. People who have worries about incorporating a business or questions about which business structure is right for them. It’s our job to build trust with each potential customer by providing useful advice, not push for a sale.

We reinforce those relationships through the content we deliver on our blog, as well as through our social media channels.

5. The Right Team is Crucial

Again, I consider myself blessed to have an amazing staff. Many of them have been with us since the beginning, and I think of them all as family. I scrutinize every potential addition to our team, because I want to make sure the candidate will fit our corporate culture (which trust me, is pretty fun and lighthearted) and want to help us succeed.

As I look ahead at the next 5, 10, even 50 years of running CorpNet, I look forward to applying these lessons learned, as well as being open to new lessons that will help us continue to grow while helping entrepreneurs start a business.

To that end, we’re currently offering free incorporation and LLC packages to new customers. For a limited time, we’re offering free name search, incorporation articles, state filing, and our unlimited 5 star customer service. I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to make your dreams of starting a business come true.

Nellie AkalpAt CorpNet, a legal document filing service, Nellie Akalp 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. Connect with Nellie on Google+.

Keep Your Salon’s Business Sizzling by Booking Around Clients’ Summer Plans

July 2nd, 2014 by

Image source: flickr


Keep Your Salon’s Business Sizzling by Booking Around Clients’ Summer Plans

By: Elizabeth Kraus

Salon business sometimes stalls once school lets out and the temperatures heat up, but summertime doesn’t have to mean a salon business slowdown. The same travel, activities, and recreation that commandeer your client’s attention during the summer can mean salon business growth for you!

Back-to-Back Appointments with Summer Travel Plans

Many of your clients will take a road trip or even fly far, far away this summer. Their travel plans could mean delayed or missed appointments, which will leave you scrambling to fill last-minute openings.

Clients are accustomed to scheduling their appointments around your openings. You can knock their socks off by asking them when they are planning to travel and offering to book pre-trip and post-trip appointments around their schedules instead.

Get Familiar with Family and Class Reunions

When your clients are faced with the prospect of a family or class reunion, they are often looking to make small and big improvements in order to look their best for the occasion. Check in with clients to see who will be attending family reunions or class reunions this summer and set up day-of-event appointments so that they will look and feel amazing when comparing notes with their old friends.

Get Married to Wedding and Anniversary Celebrations

Whether for themselves or a friend or loved one, many of your clients will be attending summer weddings, engagement parties, anniversary celebrations, and other festivities where they will want people to “love” their hair and makeup. Send an email offering to book day-of-event appointments for your clients who will be attending these affection-filled celebrations.

Another option for weddings, anniversaries, and other more formal occasions that can be a big help for your clients is to put together a travel kit and help clients get ready at home or help out-of-town visitors get ready at the hotel, church, or wherever the event is being staged.

Booking services outside of the salon could allow you to set up group appointments and book at a higher rate, and clients will appreciate not having to go out in the elements after having their hair or makeup done – their look will last longer.

Undo the Damage Clients are Doing to Hair or Skin

Clients who spend a lot of time at the beach, by the pool, or in the sun are wreaking havoc on their hair, scalp, and skin. Use questions to draw your client’s attention to what the wind, sun, salt, or chlorine is doing and recommend great professional hair and skin products they can use to counteract or contain the damage.

Put together a special offer for summer hair or skin repair that bundles services and products together, or hold a contest for summer environmental repair product giveaways in order to add new contacts to your email database or add to your number of social media followers.

What to Do When Client Summer Schedules Bust Your Books

The pessimist looks at the glass and says it’s half empty; the optimist says it’s half full. The smart stylist looks at openings on the books and sees them as an opportunity to grow their business.

When changes to client schedules mean you have unexpected openings on the books, take advantage and engage your audiences on social media or use text and email messages to let your contacts know that you have a perfect two-hour opening for someone who wants to change up their summer hair color or an hour for that client who always forgets to pre-book their haircut and calls at the last moment.

Elizabeth KrausMarketing consultant Elizabeth Kraus is the author of the newly released Making the Cut: 2015 Marketing Calendar for Independent Beauty Pros, a 15 month marketing calendar for Booth Renters, Salon Suite Owners, Hairdressers and Other Independent Beauty Pros, available on amazon.com .


Simple Tricks and Time Management Tips that Every Small Biz Owner Needs for Success

June 25th, 2014 by
Time management ensures that you have the time to reach your business success goals.

Time management ensures that you have the time to reach your business success goals.

Simple Tricks and Time-Management Tips that Every Small Biz Owner Needs for Success

Illustration by Alex Millos (Dreamstime.com)

Being a small business owner includes small business management; the buck stops with you. The most successful small businesses are run by people who learned early on the importance of time management in business. Successful small businesses are well-managed businesses, and well-managed businesses are businesses where time is not squandered. You started your company to achieve small business success; here are some time-management tips designed to ensure that you meet your goals.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise…

This proverb holds true when it comes to small business management. Once you’re in your office ready to go, chances are good that so are your employees and clients, armed with questions and concerns. Addressing issues is critical to small business success, but it can also consume your day. Get up early and start your day ahead of everyone else. This way, you have some private, quiet time to sort out the issues you’re concerned about before addressing those of others.

Schedule Your Day

During your private, morning “me time,” carve out your day and schedule a to-do list of your tasks. Most successful small businesses are run as a tight ship, and that includes how the small business owner spends their time. Successful owners understand the importance of time management in business for themselves as well as their employees. They do not hesitate to schedule their day to ensure that they have plenty of time to complete critical projects and address important issues.

Schedule Your Critical Projects

Speaking of critical projects, you need to carve out time for those, too. This time scheduling and managing is a little more in-depth, as you will be overseeing your time as well as the time of all of the key people involved in the critical project. Many successful small businesses are made by special projects, not just their day-to-day operations, so learning how to schedule and manage the projects’ time to ensure that all deliverables are on time is an important time-management skill to master.

Say No

Even if you do come in early and plan your day, you’re still going to be met with opportunities primed to unintentionally derail you and prevent you from accomplishing your tasks. This is where one simple word comes in to play, and that word is “no.” If you ask any of the owners of the most successful small businesses in the world, the number one small business management tip they will give you is just say “no” when, for example, you don’t have time to attend that community luncheon.

Turn it Off

Another time-management tip is to turn off the electronics. When involved in a critical project that your client expects by day’s end, you must employ what most consider an unorthodox small business management tip, and that is to turn off the cell phone, close the email inbox, and shut down any other distracting pieces of technology that will take you away from your task at hand. Distraction is the number one killer of small business success, so shut down the distractions until you’re done.


You may still find that your time is compromised, even if you have followed the first five of these tips. If so, it’s time to delegate some authority. While you may think that as the owner, you are the only one responsible for the time management of your business, most successful small businesses have a few people at the helm. Yes, you are the CEO, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t delegate other responsibilities to people you trust, such as your payroll to your accountant. You are the owner, but you cannot do it all!