The Value of Outsourcing with Nellie Akalp
On episode 51 of The Unique CPA, Randy talks to Nellie Akalp, the founder and CEO of CorpNet, a legal filing company with services available in all 50 states. CorpNet can assist with filings to start a business, grow or expand a business, or make changes to a business. CorpNet also assists with compliance, winding up/dissolution, and other filing services.
Today, our guest is Nellie Akalp. Nellie is founder and CEO of CorpNet.com. CorpNet helps entrepreneurs by assisting them, and preparing and filing all the legal documents needed to help set up and stay compliant in their businesses. CorpNet also partners with business professionals, such as CPAs, by being an outsource partner for these services. In addition, Nellie is a speaker, author and educator. Nellie, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Thank you, Randy. Thank you for having me. How are you today?
Oh, doing great, staying busy and having fun. You too?
Well, let’s jump into a little bit about you and about CorpNet, and obviously about CPAs in general, because the whole goal of our show is to give information to CPAs. So first, let’s get a little background. You know, in my research on you and your company, you’ve been doing this for a while. This isn’t a new thing for you. So maybe give a little background of you in this industry, and how it started, and then we’ll talk about where it’s going today.
Absolutely. So I would consider myself a veteran in this industry. I came into the industry, back in ‘97, at the birth of the era of the Internet, the birth of the Internet. And the market was ripe, and the internet was at its growing, birth stages, and my husband and I were in our last year of law school. He came up with a great idea of offering business formation and compliance services online. And our first company was born with a one page website, and it started back then.
So ever since, this has been my passion. And you know, we grew our first company, which started back in ‘97, to where it was nearly doing a million dollars in gross sales—and fast forward to 2005, it was acquired by a publicly traded company. Took some time off, focused on our then-growing three children, got acquired, sold it, had a non-compete for about three years. And then fast forward to 2009, I realized I was too young to take on an early retirement, so I started to get really, really itchy—and had that itch to come back into the industry in the face of numerous people talking me, or trying to talk me (out of) coming back to it. Now I look back, and I think to myself, it was purely because they were just very scared of having a competitor like myself.
And I came back and started CorpNet in 2009, and we’ve been rocking and rolling since 2009 until now, and it’s been a great ride. I’m grateful, and one of my most exciting aspects of running CorpNet is having the privilege and opportunity to work with CPAs daily—and that’s something that I love, and I’m very passionate about helping other professionals, see them take their business to the next level, by offering them ways where they can streamline their business and they can “10X” their reviews and add, new, you know, revenue stream to their line of products and services.
Right.One of my most exciting aspects of running CorpNet is having the privilege and opportunity to work with CPAs daily—and that's something that I love, and I'm very passionate about helping other professionals. Click To Tweet
So this is a really exciting area for me, and I’m really excited to be here with you.
Well, great. Yeah, we’re gonna talk about that partner program you have in a second. Before we do that, I want to get a little back—I mean, because you had the one business obviously, ran that for eight years, and you said something that’s very important to me and very important to our show when you were talking about that—is the passion you have. I love talking about people’s passion and how that passion can be their business as well. And it’s great to see that you’ve got that. And being out of it for whatever it was, three and a half, four years, you felt that passion to come back in.
So let’s talk about the new business now—the one that you’ve been running since, what, 2009 now?
Okay. Let’s talk about CorpNet. And just in general, you know, I said at the beginning a little bit, you know, you help businesses and professionals with, you know, different filings that are needed to keep in compliance and to set up a business, and probably to even to dissolve a business. But maybe, in your words, give me what CorpNet is, what do you do, what are the services you provide?
So CorpNet is simply a legal filing service that offers the most comprehensive, cost-effective services to anyone—entrepreneurs, CPAs, lawyers—any business professional who’s trying to start a business, or manage their business, or grow their business, or expand their business, whether it’s for themselves or helping a client do the same. We help you with all of the business filings from A to Z. We’re a one-stop shop to help you file whatever is needed to get that business in existence, or grow that business, or expand that business or make changes to that business, keep that business in compliance, or simply bring that business to a close and, you know, dissolve that business—we offer the services in all 50 states.CPAs are looking for services whereby they can enhance their trusted advisory services and look like a superstar in front of their clients, without having to do all of the legwork. Click To Tweet
Again, our pricing is not the lowest, but we’re very competitive, and I guess what we really pride ourselves for in the industry, and why we’re once again one of the top leaders within the industry, is our top-notch customer service. You know, in this day and age people not only are looking for, you know, obviously competitive prices, but I think most importantly, because specifically, you know, CPAs are looking for services whereby they can enhance their trusted advisory services and look like a superstar in front of their clients, without having to do all of the legwork, and you know, aligning themselves with a partner team that can do exactly that and shares the same vision and mantra as the accountant or, you know, the business or financial professional, is really important. And we do exactly that. We’re very, very collaborative with our clients, and, you know, we set the bar when it comes to customer service and customer engagement.
That’s great. And then the partner program—and you touched on it there, you know, bringing the services or allowing the CPA to bring these services to their client—you know, so I was asking, how is it helpful to the CPAs? What’s important to them? You kind of expanded on that already, you know. What’s the benefit to the CPA? So obviously, you know, if I’m, if I’m bringing services to my client, I also want to have a revenue source from those services. And so that’s what I’m assuming this partner program is, is there’s a way to tie together with your services, and then bring it to the client.
So I’ll tell you a little bit of a story as to how the CorpNet partner program was born, which I think is really exciting.
So we back I would say around 2010, 2011, you know, you know, we started the business in 2009. And, you know, you have this ego, when you’ve already, you know, started a company, you’ve sold it, and then you come back into the industry, and you’re like, “I’ve done this before, I can do it again.” Well, you quickly become very humbled, you know, because of the fact that what happened back then is not necessarily going to repeat itself.
So for us, you know, when we started CorpNet, it really, really was a thorn in our side, because the industry was super, super different than when we had started earlier, and we were up against some large name competitors, including our own company, which is now competitors.
So for a couple of years, we were really struggling. I believe it was like 2011, 2012, it was around the holidays, and, you know, we wanted to take a look at who our clients were, and we realized that most of our higher level clients, providing us with repeat services, were you know, attorneys and accountants—and mostly accountants. So we decided to come up with this program, whereby these accountants are already using our services, well, why don’t we offer them more services and more options as to how to utilize our services?
And we came up with the CorpNet partner program. And simply, the partner program is a program whereby there’s no setup fee, there’s no annual fees, there is no cost to set up—it’s a pay as you go service. And the program is basically if you’re an accountant, if you’re a lawyer, if you’re a CPA, if you’re any type of a business professional representing clients, you can now offer business formation, incorporation, LLC filings, compliance services—and any type of business filings and sales tax and payroll tax registration services—to your clients in all 50 states by partnering with CorpNet.
It’s a pay as you go service—you don’t have to set up, you don’t have to pay a membership fee. It’s simply pay as you go. And you have an option: you can either resell our services to your clients whereby they would never know CorpNet is doing the legwork and the fulfillment on the back end, or, if you don’t want to be the middleman or be the main point of contact with your clients, you can simply align yourself as an affiliate partner or referral partner with CorpNet, refer your clients to CorpNet, we’ll take care of them, provide them with top notch services and bring them right back to you.
So you can either partner with us as a white label private label reseller, and in that sense, you would be the main point of contact with CorpNet, and we would sell the products, sell the services to you at discounted wholesale pricing, and you can mark it up to whatever you want—or, alternatively, if you don’t want to be the middleman, you can set yourself up as a referral partner with CorpNet, refer your clients to us, and get a commission off of each sale you’ve referred to us. And the partner program is very flexible. You know, one person can both be a reseller and a referral partner—you can do a mix and match.
So it’s a very, very flexible program, which is in a nutshell designed to help a CPA grow their practice, and offer services whereby they would often have to refer the client elsewhere. Now they can become more of a one-stop shop to their clients, offer these services in-house and make money off of it as well. Because I can guarantee you—if the CPA is not offering the service, another CPA is—and in this day and age, clients are looking for simplicity. Clients are looking for a one-stop shop. And the CPA is in the best position to offer these services because the client is looking to the CPA to give them the advice as to “what type of business entity Should I form for tax purposes?”
So the CPA sending that, you know, client on a, you know, egg hunt or goose hunt—or whatever they call it—it’s just going to frustrate the client even more. So we created this program to really simplify the financial advisor’s life, by offering these services to their clients, and in addition to that, adding an additional revenue stream to their practice.
Okay, I think that’s great. I often talk about the fact that there’s a CPA, you know—I’ll lump myself in even though I’m not currently in public accounting—but as a CPA, we know that something exists, we know that this service exists, we know that this part of the tax code exists. You can’t be an expert at everything. And that goes back, I think, to the passion again—you know, this may not be a passionate area. I think CPAs in general should concentrate on where they’re most passionate, where they’re going to get actively involved in their clients’ business because it’s personal to them. And so this is an area where they know they can have the services and now they have you as an outsource partner.
And then one thing I wanted to expand on—maybe I heard it wrong, maybe I heard it right—but it sounded like what you were saying is on the upfront, when they’re even at the point where it’s “Okay, we’re going to pick an entity type,” do you get involved in the advising or do you have a walkthrough that like, “Okay, you know, this is based on what you’re doing and your your goals and responsibilities, you should be x type of business?” Is that something you do?As a CPA, we know that something exists, we know that this service exists, we know that this part of the tax code exists. You can't be an expert at everything. Click To Tweet
Yes, great, great question Randy, and I’m really happy you brought it up. So we have a tool that we can provide to the CPA, that they can walk the client through that, with that business wizard tool, that basically was created by attorneys and accountants to advise them as to what is the best sort of entity for their particular business.
In addition, we have a plethora of guidance and material that can walk the client through. And I can guarantee you, having been in this industry for over 20 plus years, 25 plus years, you know, there is not a client that hasn’t been through a new client situation. So typically, although we’re you know, a legal document filing service, and cannot provide legal, tax, or financial advice, we can generally provide guidance to that client to advise their client of a similar situation in the past that our client has been in and the type of entity they formed in the past.
Okay, and then this is part of that whole checklist or procedure you go through, help identify all the filings then as well? I mean, if you’re going to be an LLC, you’ve got different requirements than if you’re a C Corp, or if you’re a sole proprietor and not having employees, you don’t have to, you know, probably file filings to register for employment taxes. But if you’re an S Corp and hiring employees—so does walk you through these? What are your requirements based on the entity type you’re taking?
Absolutely. In fact, we have, you know, our business filings experts are trained to ask a series of questions, when, you know, they’re setting up the entity. One of the first questions we ask them is, obviously, you know, if they’re going to be a corporation or an LLC, how they want to be taxed. Do they want to be taxed, for example, if it’s an LLC, do they want to be taxed as a disregarded entity or a passthrough entity? Or do they want that LLC to be taxed as an S Corp or a C Corp. Similarly, if they’re a C Corp, we’ll ask the question of whether they can qualify and meet the requirements of electing to be an S Corporation, and if that’s you know, what they want to do.
We also ask them if that corporation or LLC is going to be doing business under a variety of different business names, so that we can, you know, file the appropriate DBA or fictitious names under the umbrella of the corporation or LLC. And additionally, one of the top questions that we ask is whether they’re going to have employees—if they’re going to be charging a sales and use tax—because those are all additional filings that as a corporation or LLC, and even more general, as a business, that business is required to, you know, take the steps and make the necessary filing requirements. And we can help them register for payroll and sales tax and help set up their employer accounts, tax accounts, in all of the different 50 states.
Alright. So when I was in public accounting, setting up new businesses, it was one of my least favorite things to do. So having this type of service I think for me personally would have been great. I got out in ‘06 when I started Tri-Merit, so I guess I was there when you started your business—oh, that was actually after you—I existed the entire time you had that first business!
And probably knew about it. My guess is I probably didn’t know about it. I don’t know if I ever used it or not.
So one last thing I want to ask and then we’ll do some wrap up: You mentioned a lot of the requirements already, and I’m guessing those are the normals. It’s you’re setting up the entity type, payroll and registering for payroll taxes, registering for sales tax, and you know, filing annual reports. Are those the gist of the main things you’re doing, or am I simplifying that too much?
We are, again, we’re a one-stop shop for business filings. So we do any and all types of business startup services, any type of entity setup we do. And then once the entity is set up, we can assist with keeping the entity in compliance, whether it is filing an initial report, annual report—we offer commercial registered agent services in all 50 states—and then if the business requires a dissolution, or an amendment or reinstatement or conversion from one state to another, whether, you know, even if they want to expand into other states, we often form qualification services.
So we offer a multitude of services. Again, if you’re interested in checking out the list of services, check us out on www.CorpNet.com. And for those of you interested in partnering with us, you can again go on the website at CorpNet.com and look at our partner program. We offer all of the services that we offer them in all 50 states.
Oh, that’s awesome. And you beat me to the punch, I was gonna ask you how people could get more information. So we got the website. Any other places people can see you or reach out to you?
Yeah! So you can also reach out to us at 1 (888) 449-2638. We also have an online chat where you can chat with us. We’re all over social media, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. I also have a personal following as well on social media—just look up Nellie Akalp, and I’m all over social and on Instagram. And also if you just want to simply send us an email, just send it to info@CorpNet.com.
Well, that’s awesome. Any last words from you before we wrap up here?
I literally would encourage every one of you to check out our partners program because everyone who’ve used it, loves it and has referred us to more and more CPAs and accountants and again, we’re here at your service, ready to help with any of your business filings.
Well Nellie, I appreciate you being on the show. I think that was very informative. Like I said personally, it was something I would’ve used back when I was in public accounting, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people that would be very interested in getting more information. So again, thanks for being on the show.
Thank you for having me.
About the Guest
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business expert and mother of four. She is the CEO of CorpNet.com, a trusted resource for Business Incorporation, LLC Filings, and Corporate Compliance Services in all 50 states. Nellie and her team recently launched a partner program for accountants, bookkeepers, CPAs, and other professionals to help them streamline the business incorporation and compliance process for their clients.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 10% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.