March 23

0 comments

How She Became Of The 2% Of Female Entrepreneurs Who Have A 7 Figure Business

By Mimi MacLean

March 23, 2022


Female Entrepreneur

Nellie Akalp, Founder and CEO of Corpnet

This week on the Badass CEO podcast, we had the chance to sit down again with the founder of Corpnet, Nellie Akalp to discuss why only 2% of female entrepreneurs make it to 1million in sales or even achieve the titles of CEO. We go through Nellie's story and tips on how we can better ourselves as not only businesswomen but as humans who feel confident and worthy of their success and happiness.

Tune in to hear how we can use relational alignment to find our worth and become our ideal self, why our inner thoughts have to match our outer actions, and why boundaries are so important.

Find Nellie and Corpnet:

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE

Episode Contents

Only 5% of Female Entrepreneurs Become CEOs

Nellie, thank you for coming back. I'm so excited to talk about a subject that has been near and dear to my heart lately. And I would love to just get your opinion on it. Since, you reach the 1.7% and the 5% of the statistic I'm about to bring up. There are two statistics that I read recently that I found kind of shocking, to be honest with you. And so I've been trying to dive into why this is happening and what we can do as women to help each other to reach a higher percentage. So the first one was, only 1.7% of female CEOs ever have a company that's over a million dollars in sales. And the second one is, only five percent of women ever reach CEO status working in a company or on their own. So five percent never become a CEO.

Mimi:
And so that just surprises me because one, 50% of women are in the workforce. You can say, that there's more men and less women working, but it's not the case. So I'd love to dive into that today. I mean, I have my opinion of why it could be, but I would love to see what you think could be the reasons attributing to that.

Nellie:
So it's interesting that you're bringing that up because just yesterday, I had an article that was really dear to my heart that I started writing about. And it's about the whole she session that we're experiencing right now in our world with women and this pandemic and just kind of this global pause that we're all experiencing. And I just love what you're posing here as a question, because I think it all boils down to self doubt as a woman. I think women some way or another kind of feel like they're just not worthy of being a CEO or having those tools and resources or having really within them to make those marks in their lives. I obviously, I'm one of those people who goes against all norm and that's just who I've been and who I've been raised to be. But I also come from a very, very, very unique past and I've grown and been raised to be a survivor all my life.

Nellie:
So I'm kind of one of those people who doesn't fit these percentages because I do everything against the norm. I really, really trained my mind that when there's a no, or when there's a door shut to go knock on another door and, if somebody tells me no, then I'm going to try to go find a yes in another place. And in my daily life and my daily practice and my daily routines, I'm always trying to be the better version of me. I'm always looking at myself 10 years ahead and looking at that person as my hero. And I think all of that has a lot to do with where women kind of shortchange themselves when it comes to these percentages.

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

You Have To Be Persistent and Confident

Photographer: Thomas Mowe | Source: Unsplash

Nellie:
So my opinion, as women, and if it was up to me, I would kind of make an argument against these percentages. Because in my opinion, if more women had more strength and more courage and more confidence in themselves, I think the percentages would have been the other way around because as women, we have so much more when it comes to nurturing. When it comes to empathy, when it comes to compassion, when it comes to organization. When it comes to our skill sets that we can bring to the table, when it comes to leading a company, being a leader within the company and ultimately being a CEO within a company.

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that. No, it's so true. And one of the other things I think is a reason why, is women don't think big enough, which kind of goes to what you're talking about. So I'm curious, and when I say what they don't think big enough. So like say, they start a company. If it's selling candles, are they thinking, "Oh, I'm just going to sell them at the local farmer's market." Or are they thinking, "Okay, I'm going to get big enough that I can sell them in every department store." And sometimes I think we sell ourselves short and we assume that we know less and we're harder on ourselves then our male counterparts. So my question for you is, when you started both companies, did you already off the bat be like, "I'm going to be here?" Did you already aim super high or did it kind of just happen?

Nellie:
So let me dissect this because there's a couple of things you brought up here that I want to make sure I track properly. Is number one, I think you're absolutely right, when we're talking about when we're in the starting phases of a business and how women don't think big. I don't think it's necessarily that they don't think big. I think we as women and it goes back to women are from Venus, men are from Mars. I think we, as women, we use more of a method and we're more methodological when it comes to doing things and much more organized. And the process has to be thought out, it has to be [crosstalk 00:05:10].

Mimi:
Yeah, we're like perfectionist. Like we're more perfectionist versus [crosstalk 00:05:12]. Right?

Nellie:
Yeah, we're more perfectionist. And we have to be very detail oriented in the process of how we launch things. So I don't think it's the fact of, we're not thinking big, but it's more like we're thinking under the lines of, we want to do this right the first time, so that we don't have to go back and do it over again.

Mimi:
Right, which is not necessarily the best way. Right?

Nellie:
It's not, it's not. And I'll tell you, I'm a huge, huge, prime example of this because of the fact that I'll think of an idea. And then my husband, and this is where the magic happens. And this is why we have such a great partnership together between Phil and I. In that, he comes in and he goes, "Well, why don't you do it this way? Have you thought about it this way?" And it just takes it to the next level. And that's why it's like … And I know we're at one point or another, in one of these podcasts, we're going to talk about working with your spouse, your business partner and how that all kind of plays into this. But for us, that's where the magic happens is because, in our relationships, especially with CorpNet and this company, I am the CEO. And if you look at it and really, really like look at … I mean, I'm his boss. And in real life we don't act like that. In my eyes, we're linear and we're on equal footing. But if you were to really, really look at it from a factual standpoint of titles. Yeah, I'm his boss, I'm the CEO. I get to call the shots. Do I do that? Do I use that as leverage? No.

Finding Mentorship as a Female Entrepreneur

Photographer: Akson | Source: Unsplash

Nellie:
I think that with the two big businesses that we've had, we kind of looked at it and with our first company, he was our CEO. He was our chairman. And with this company, it just made sense with everything that was happening in the world. And at the time we came out with the business for me to be the CEO, for me to be the face of the company and really because of all the content and the blogging that I was doing. But at the end of the day, I feel that women in particular, I think they bring so much more to the table because we have so much more patience, we have so much more compassion. We have so much more organization and the way our thought process kind of thinks, I think we can really be very effective CEOs and leaders in the face of the percentages that are out there today.

Mimi:
Right. I don't know if you know this, but there's a statistic out there. And I can't remember who came up with it, but you are as an investor, like a VC investor, you're more likely to get double the return on a female CEO run company than a male run company. Multitasking, they're keeping track of their expenses better, but for some reason, it's just that lack of competence that you were talking about, I think really plays a role in women, kind of going for it and trying to become their own CEO or reach CEO or start a company, and really believe in themselves. The other question I have for you is, another stat, which I found interesting. Especially for a woman who is in the regular corporate ladder, is having a mentor and somebody who is like your role model.

Mimi:
And they found that, I think the number was like 70% of men had mentors that helped them through their career of where they needed to go in order to get them to CEO. Whereas, it was only 40% of women. So I know obviously your husband kind of acts as a mentor for you, but have you had other mentors in your career that looked up to, or have been able to help you to get where you are?

Nellie:
Yes, yes. All the time, all the time. My husband is … I mean he needs mentorship himself. So if, you were to look at both of us, I think we serve as each other's mentors sometimes in a way. Sometimes, he'll walk in here and he's just having doomsday and he'll look at me and he's like, "What am I doing wrong? Why is this not going my way or in my direction?" I'll look at them and I'll go, "Listen, here's the bottom line. Change, brings change and you are just resisting that change. You're resisting that changing. You know the answers. You're just not willing to let them come through and flow through you." And in that sense, I'm acting as his mentor. Whereas, sometimes he acts as my mentor, but a true mentor in my opinion has to be someone that is outside of partnership. 

Nellie:
And for me, I'm always aligning myself with people that are better than me, that are more influential than me, that are bigger influencers than me. I'm always reading books. I'm always striving to become a better version of me, whether it's through self-help books, whether it's through workshops, whatever it is. Because in this day and age, there's so much competition out there and with the level of content and just kind of this overload of content and education that's out there. I think we, as humans are really, behooving ourselves., if we don't brush up on all that available material.

Where to Find A Mentor and Nellie’s Tips

Mimi:
Yeah, you always have to be learning. You always have to be learning. So if, you had actual mentorships outside, where would you find those? Where would you suggest people to find a mentor?

Nellie:
It really, really boils down to you and your style as a human. For me, I love that personal connection, that human interaction. And for me, mentors have always come from great conversations, where I strike up with people that often come as friends. It could be a friendly connection that I've made as a result of our kids being friends and it's with their parents. Just a few months ago, we made friends with a couple that are parents to my nine-year-old and my nine-year-old and their daughter are really good friends. We decided talking and both of them are doctors. One is a urologist, one is a neurologist. So husband and wife, doctor team.

Nellie:
And what really, really fascinated both of us about this two couple is that, they're both always out to better themselves. Spiritually, mentally, physically, and it really, really striked a connection for my husband and I, because we're in that kind of mode right now, where what can we become to become a better version of us? My husband's very, very, very reserved when it comes to making new friends and relationships. And for me, it was really nice to see him connect with this gentleman because it's as, if he had met his brother from another mother. [crosstalk 00:12:11].

Mimi:
Oh, that's nice. 

Nellie:
It really depends. I think it's a case by case, there's no black and white.

Mimi:
Right. 

Nellie:
I get to know people from having conversations with them and I'm such a sociable person, and I'm always so interested in knowing how people are doing, where their mind is, what's going on with them, what are they doing? Sometimes, even sitting somewhere, well, when we were able to sit somewhere and just window watch or people watch. And I would always wonder to myself, "I wonder what that person is doing. I wonder what that person does for a living. I wonder what that person's career is." And I would sit here making bets with whoever I was with. And then we would ask them, half the time I was wrong and half the time I was right.

Mimi:
But I think people should realize that you don't have to have actually formal relationship with mentors. It's not like you're calling the person up and being like, "Will you be my mentor?" It's just creating relationships that you try to keep alive over time, that you can help them, they can help you. You're bouncing ideas off that you can get. They may be somebody that you want to be in 10 years and you see that person like, "Wait, that's where I want to be. So I'm going to just kind of strike up a relationship with them."

Nellie:
Yeah, yeah. 

Mimi:
But it's super important I think and to get to that 1.7% or that 5% is to know that you can't do it on your own.

Nellie:
Yeah. The other thing I wanted to let you know, is that, a lot of time mentorship can come from hobbies and your recreation too. 

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's good idea.

Female Entrepreneurs Need To Align Themselves

Photographer: Dave Hoefler | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Edz Norton | Source: Unsplash

Nellie:
I get a lot of my greatest ideas sometimes from maybe aligning myself with … I love to dance. That's one of the things that I love doing, as a hobby, as a recreation, as a sort of form of fitness, I like to dance. So I have my private dance coach that comes to the house, once or twice a week. And we work on different types of routines and we'll do a piece and we'll practice it to the point that it's to perfection. And then from there, we either put it on YouTube or do something with it. And a lot of times, as I'm actually creating and dancing, a lot of ideas come through for me. A lot of ideas and realizations flow through for me and I come to a lot of realizations.

Nellie:
So lots of different ways, in my opinion, I think the beach in and of itself. Water, water in and of itself can be meant a mentor to you as far as bringing you clarity. So yeah, it's not black and white for me. In a traditional setting, in a more traditional setting. I think your criteria for picking a mentor should be first and foremost, connection connectivity. I think you need to be able to connect with that person. Number two, is respect. Do you have that connection with that person and do you respect that person? Do you look up to that person?

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nellie:
And for me specifically, I've always tried to … I've always in my life, tried to align myself with people that know more than me, are better than me, are bigger than me, are much more well-versed than me. You want to align yourself to people who you look to becoming and strive to becoming one day.

Mimi:
That's good. So you brought up earlier about self-confidence and I like to call it like the impostor syndrome. I polled a lot of the people from my audience and I asked them, what was their number one thing that they found hard being a CEO? And the number one response was self-confidence and having imposter syndrome. When you feel like, you're not qualified to be in a position that you're qualified to be in. So that goes back to what you-

Nellie:
That's also, self-worth. 

Mimi:
Yeah, self-worth. So my question to you is, which surprised me, because here are all these beautiful, smart, intelligent, successful women, and they have a self-confidence issue. And so what would you recommend to women who are listening, if they are having a self-confidence or imposter syndrome, what can they do to overcome that?

Nellie:
These are not tangible things that you can get from the outside. It all comes from within and as humans we have to from within find that self-worth, that self-confidence. And there are outside tools that can help you become that way from the inside. But in my opinion, it all starts from the inside. You have to be aligned from the inside to be able to act a certain way and to feel a certain way from the outside. And it really boils down to a relational alignment, a relational alignment with yourself, with your family members, with everybody around you, but it starts from within. 

Nellie:
And I think as a human, you have to dig deep within to really kind of look at your family of origin, stuff. Kind of look at your childhood, your past. Kind of see, what lends itself to you not feeling that you're worthy enough or that you lack that self confidence that you're missing that prevents you from going after your dreams and making your dreams a reality. I struggle with it. I'm not perfect. What I do is, there's tools that I use on a daily basis. I'm very spiritual, I meditate. I feel that exercise lends itself to me being a lot more self-confident about myself. Exercise, education, reading, taking care of myself, as far as what I put into my body. And then also getting up and acting the part on a daily basis.

Nellie:
You not only have to feel this way. Your inner actions have to match your outer actions and the words that come out of your body and words that come out of your mouth. So it all goes back to relational alignment. And I think that has a lot to do with it because as humans, when we not only feel the part, but we dress the part and we act the part, it all kind of comes together and you can just wrap a bow around it.

Mimi:
That's so well said. And I also, I think I'd like to add something to it is, knowing that being uncomfortable is part of growing. And I think people maybe get confused at this discomfort, and not being confident. Maybe you're like, "Oh, I don't feel like I'm ready for it." Because you feel uneasy to do whatever, the big presentation or raise money or whatever it is. But really it's just the fuel that you're talking about. That uneasiness, but you're taking it as, I'm not confident enough. And it's like, "No, you need to do that." It's like your first day of school and kindergarten. We all have that weird feeling or getting up on stage for a play. It's the same idea, you just got to stretch yourself to grow.

Nellie:
So there's two things I want to bring up here is, one of the things that we as humans have been trained to avoid is sitting with uncomfortable feelings. And when you're sitting with your uncomfortable feelings, you go through a lot of highs and lows. However, a lot of times, and even as parents, when we for example, look at our children with those uncomfortable feelings. We're always rushing to try to take those feelings away from them. And there's a book called Blessing of a Skinned Knee. I don't know, if you've read it or not, but I've read it.

Mimi:
Yeah, It's one of my favorite books for parenting. Yes.

Nellie:
Yeah. So the message of that story is allowing your child to sit with those uncomfortable feelings because those uncomfortable feelings are really what is the driver of them becoming a better version of themselves. I really, really think it's important for anyone, when they're dealing with a situation to kind of sit with that uncomfortable feeling and really see what comes out of it. The other thing is that in the age of almost turning 50, I'm learning that boundaries are very important. As humans, we have to have boundaries for ourselves and place them with other people. As a child growing up, I was told that boundaries were not okay. And when you place boundaries with people, it's a way of you telling them don't love them, which is a complete, complete 180 to what really is correct. 

Nellie:
Because when we set boundaries for ourselves and for others, in a way we're building self-confidence for ourselves. In a way we're taking care of ourselves. So I think it's really important, especially as women, as women in general, that we have very, very strict boundaries for ourselves as to who we're trying to really say we are out there. What values we're trying to say we have and really what message we're trying to give out there to people. And I think it really boils down to having clear boundaries with yourself and with others and your loved ones, because that in and of itself is what really builds your self-confidence.

Mimi:
It's true. Just to close it up with that one last thought about that is, taking it a step further. If you are a mom and doing that family life balance and I think that's one reason why women don't grow or choose not to be a CEO because maybe they consciously or unconsciously make the decision not to focus on their career because of their family. And so maybe they have, maybe not, and maybe that's why. Instead of being a CEO at some big Fortune 500 company, they're like, "I'm happy at the level I'm at because it allows me to also be home and not travel as much." And so it's like that boundaries of maybe they don't have the boundaries and therefore they haven't been able to focus on growing their company because they let their kids kind of take over their life and their social life and their whole life. So they haven't had the time and energy to focus on building their company or maybe they've made the conscious decision to have that boundaries and not choose to grow. I mean, there's so many parts to that family work life balance.

Nellie:
We can sit here and we can run every situation or it could be that, they're at a point where, now the kids are all grown up and they're like, "It's too late for me." I mean, there's so much. Fr that reason, for me, it was always important when I even had my first children, even before we had kids. I knew that I was always going to be a career woman, but at the same time, I also knew that I wanted to be a mom. And I also knew that I could balance both and be an effective mom, an effective parent and also be an effective leader. But I do really do feel like a lot of it goes back to a lot of self-doubt, lack of self-worth and a lack of like, "I'm not good enough. I'm not good enough or I'm not worthy enough." Listen, at the end of the day, let's get just super transparent for a minute, as a woman, I think we bring a lot to the table, a lot more. And that's why men depend on us so much.

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's true.

Nellie:
Let's look at the marital relationship. The man, if you want to look at the traditional lifestyle, the man is the breadwinner and is in charge of bringing home the bread, bringing home the money. But look at how much they're trusting their wives with and how much they depend on their wives.

Mimi:
Yeah.

Nellie:
And let's just begin with the care taking of their most prized joys, which just the children. That's a huge responsibility in and of itself.

Mimi:
From what I'm hearing, the takeaway is making sure you change and you're well aware of the dialogue that you're telling yourself each day. To change the dialogue of making sure that you are worthy. You are enough, you can do this, we have the skills and you'll just learn it as you grow. And as you continue to succeed in your business and as you grow with it, but it's changing the dialogue. I think the dialogue that we're telling ourselves.

Nellie:
It's changing the dialogue inside your own head, and I think it's not something that you just can do once every month. It's daily, it's daily. Literally in my opinion, it's about who is it that you want to be? What is it that you want to leave behind? What is the message that you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered in this world by people? That's where you have to begin with. 

Mimi:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that.

Nellie:
And for me, it's really important that my kids have always looked at me and they still look at me as this woman who's able to stand on their own and I'm proud of that. And I see the results of it with my daughter, who's 19. I have four children, I have twins that are 19 year old, boy, girl. And then I have a 17 year old son and I have a nine year old and taking a look at my kids and just having them look at us as examples is in and of itself, indication of, you know what? I've done good. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Mimi:
No, that's great. That's awesome. So is there any other last minute things that you think we haven't covered on this subject that you'd like to-

Nellie:
I loved what we talked about today, Mimi. And super excited to be back on with you today and really excited to come back again. And for those of you who don't know me, my name is Nellie Akalp, I'm CEO and founder of CorpNet.com. At CorpNet, we provide business incorporation compliance, business expansion services, legal filing services in all 50 states. If you'd like to check out our company log onto www.corpnet.com. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, just look up Nellie Akalp. And if you want to send us a message, go to info@corpnet.com.

Mimi:
And Nellie, you know what? What I love about that is, one of my other things that I think, why women don't grow as quick as they should is, because I think they try to do too much. They try to do it all. From being an accountant, to the lawyer, everything. Salesperson, because they don't want to either spend the money or they don't want to give up control. And that's why I love your company because you make it easy to be able to take something off their plate. You want to incorporate, done. You want to have each year … I just signed up to have the annual … Making sure I'm compliant with everything, I don't have to worry about that now. I don't have to worry like, "Did I forget to do my franchise tax? Or did I forget to … " It's done and it's not that expensive and now I know I've checked that box.

Nellie:
Yes. Yeah. At a CorpNet, we provide you with anything and everything when it comes to legal filings for a new business or for an existing business. Right now with COVID and with this pandemic, a lot of our business owners are going remote, continuing to go remote. They're noticing that they can actually have access to even better talent in other states. We just added sales and payroll tax registration services to our line of services. And we offer those services in all 50 states. But for those of you interested in knowing what CorpNet does. Again, visit us at www.corpnet.com. We're open Monday through Friday, from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. And we provide our services in all 50 states.

Mimi:
And I'll also have it in the show notes, the links as well.

Nellie:
Awesome.

Mimi:
Thank you so much, Nellie.

Episode Sponsor

Are you stressed or confused about how to incorporate or how to keep compliant at the state and federal level? I found the perfect company, CorpNet that simplifies it for you. Corpnet’s filing experts provide the easiest and most reliable platform to help you incorporate a business, form an LLC, or maintain compliance for an existing business. Learn more about their Fast, easy, reliable, and affordable, services here.

You even be assigned to a CorpNet expert to answer any questions!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Top 10 Tips For Every Entrepreneur

>