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Nontraditional Ways to Get Small Business Financing

Wooden Blocks with the text: FinanceSmall business owners who encounter trouble securing traditional loans have an ever-increasing array of alternatives to choose from.

Established banks working through the U.S. Small Business Administration offer the lowest interest rates on small business loans, but it’s tougher for entrepreneurs to obtain financing if their business is too new or too risky. Nontraditional lenders have stepped in to provide easier-to-obtain business loans for such entrepreneurs. The terms of this type of financing can vary widely, but expect to pay more for this speedier, easier option.

If you’re looking for a new source of cash for your business, consider these nontraditional financing possibilities.  

Online Lenders

Online lenders are unregulated, nonbanking companies that provide a range of financing options to small businesses. Loans from online lenders are easier to get because they use a combination of traditional underwriting metrics and nontraditional factors, such as accounting data and social media performance. Financing decisions are delivered more quickly than with traditional loans, but the tradeoffs for that convenience include higher interest rates and fees. Online lenders typically offer term loans, lines of credit and accounts receivable financing.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

A peer-to-peer lender acts as an intermediary between you and a third-party individual or institutional investor. It’s a type of online financing in which the lenders match borrowers with investors who are looking to earn a rate of return for their loan. After an investor agrees to fund your loan, the lender will transfer the amount directly to your bank account. You’ll then repay the lender according to the terms of the loan. The lender, in turn, will repay the investor. It’s an increasingly popular option among small businesses for its ease of approval. However, that simplicity will come at a price in the form of a higher APR. Continue reading “Nontraditional Ways to Get Small Business Financing” »

By |February 11th, 2016|Business Finance|0 Comments

How to Rekindle Your Love for Your Business

Passion. Do More Of What Makes You Happy card with bokeh

This time of year, a lot of us are thinking about romantic love, or in my case, romantic love + business partner. But what happens when something you love — i.e. your business — isn’t bringing you the joy it once did?

Face it: not every day is roses and sunshine when you’re an entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s hard to muster up passion for that business you launched oh so many years ago. So how do you reignite that excitement and get back on track with your love affair with your business?

Take Some Time Off

Often, recalibrating your feelings about your business is as simple as getting away from it for a while. Taking a vacation (or even a staycation) and not being mired in the day-to-day of your company can give you some breathing room and time to remember why you started the business in the first place.

Put it in Action

Sure, not everyone can afford to take off a week or two, but you don’t need it to make this concept work. Try taking off early a few days a week, or have a long weekend. However long you are able to get away from work, completely shut off from it. No emails, and no calls. Otherwise it won’t have the intended benefit. Continue reading “How to Rekindle Your Love for Your Business” »

By |February 9th, 2016|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

Five Reasons To Fall In Love With The LLC

Love sign on the roadIf you’re starting a new business or revisiting your decision to operate as a sole proprietorship, you may want to give the Limited Liability Company (LLC) some attention. The LLC legal structure offers advantages that attract entrepreneurs running small businesses in virtually every industry: retail, restaurants, graphic designers, technology, and attorneys. That’s right, even lawyers choose to form their businesses as LLCs.  

You may be wondering, “What’s so crazy special about the LLC?”

Plenty. Let us count the ways!

  • Protection of personal assets in the event of legal action – An LLC is a legitimate corporate entity that provides some separation between the owners’ assets and the business. That means you might sleep better at night, because important things like your home and your kids’ college funds will be protected in the event of legal action against your business.
  • Simplicity – LLCs deal with less formation paperwork and compliance requirements than corporations. You don’t face the grueling grind of creating a board of directors, documenting strategic decisions, holding an annual shareholders meeting, and going through certain other formalities.

Continue reading “Five Reasons To Fall In Love With The LLC” »

By |February 4th, 2016|Forming An LLC|0 Comments

Back to the Basics: Why Trademarks are Important for Your Business

Trademark applicationNow that you’ve started your business, it’s time to protect your new business name, both in the state where you do business as well as every other state in the US. How can you do that? A trademark is a great place to start.

Why Registering Your Business Name Isn’t Enough

But Nellie, you say, I already registered my business name. Isn’t that protection enough?

Actually…no. Registering your business’ name in your state ensures that no other LLC or corporation uses it, but that does not put a shield around your name in any other state. So if you register T-Shirts Extravaganza in the state of Utah, another T-Shirts Extravaganza could register its business name in Texas. Or Delaware. You get the idea. Once that happens, if you both sell online, you’ll be competing in search engine results, and people may confuse your brands.

While you’re at it, consider trademarking your business logo too. This keeps any other company from using a logo that is too similar to your own that might be confused with yours. Continue reading “Back to the Basics: Why Trademarks are Important for Your Business” »

By |February 2nd, 2016|Trademarks|0 Comments

Nellie in the News: January 2016

New Year, New Press! Nellie has been busy starting the year off with some fantastic opportunities to educate entrepreneurs on and offline about starting a business. We have added a new section highlighting some exciting awards and speaking appearances where you can catch Nellie in person.

Want Nellie to speak at your next event or share her tips on your podcast? Contact her today!

nellie in the news

Speaking & Awards

National Association of Women Business Owners – Ventura County

Nellie Akalp names as Women Business Owner of the Year! More details on the Thousand Oaks Acorn:

Play Big 2016

Nellie will be speaking at the Skirball Cultural Center for Creative Successful Entrepreneurs on February 10, 2016. More info and tickets:

Iranian American Women Foundation

Nellie will be speaking on an Overcoming Obstacles panel in San Diego on February 28, 2016. More info and tickets:

Startup Weekend Ventura County

Nellie and her husband/Business partner Phil Akalp will be speaking on starting and growing a successful business on March 11, 2016. More info and tickets:


Interviews & Press Mentions

Natural Born Coaches – Episode #346 Nellie Akalp: Structuring your Coaching Business – New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Hatchbuck – The Most Important Online Marketing Lessons of 2015 for Small Business

Exit Coach Radio – Nellie Akalp on Legally Structuring your Business

Forbes – 10 productivity Hacks That Worked for Reach People

Rhodes to Success Podcast – Trademarks, Teamwork & Marriage with Nellie Akalp

Nice Guys on Business Podcast – Today We Talk to CorpNet Founder and CEO Nellie Akalp

Carol Roth – New Year’s Business Resolutions for 2016

Women Taking the Lead Podcast – Nellie Akalp on Working Qualitatively vs Quantitatively

Small Business Trends – 10 Ideas for Communicating With Target Customers, Team Members and More

Dawn Mentzer – The Nitty Gritty of Non-Disclosure Agreements For Your Small Business


Expert Contributed Posts

Mashable – How to Balance a Startup with Family Life

Forbes – Year-End Assessment Did You Meet Your Business Goals?

Showcasing Women – What will YOU Do to Successfully Start a Business This Year?

GoDaddy – 3 Signs it’s Time to Bring on a Business Partner

CPA Practice Advisor – 6 legal Must-Dos After Incorporating a Business

Huffington Post – Seven No-Sweat Ways to Make a Great First Impression In the New Year

Mashable – What Freelancers Need to Know to Manage Their Business

GoDaddy – Time-Saving Social Media Tips for Small Business Owners

Franchise Expo – 7 Must-Dos to Set Your Franchise Up for Success

MSN – Starting a Business This Year? Avoid These 8 Rookie Mistakes

CPA Practice Advisor – 7 Tips to Help Small Corporations Maintain Compliance

By |January 29th, 2016|Nellie in the News|0 Comments

How to Brand Your Business

Businessman drawing Brand Building concept on blurred abstract background

You’ve developed an attention-getting business name and a logo that reflects it—and trademarked them, of course! Now how do you use these elements to brand your business?

When you start a business, first, it’s important to understand what branding is. Often misunderstood, branding is different than marketing or advertising, but marketing and advertising are used to brand a business. Confused? Think of your brand as the “personality” of your business—the feeling you want prospective customers to have when they think about your products and services. Your brand might be homespun or sophisticated, all-American or exotic, cutting-edge or retro.

Got it? Now, start by understanding your brand. Can you sum up what your brand stands for in one sentence? For example, “Helping Hands is the in-home care service that provides seniors with friendly care, and their loved ones with peace of mind.” If you haven’t already done so, create a mission statement sharing your company’s ongoing mission. For example, “Helping Hands enables seniors to age in their own homes while staying healthy, safe and happy, and eliminates care and worry for their loved ones.” Continue reading “How to Brand Your Business” »

By |January 28th, 2016|Marketing Your Business|0 Comments

Five Ways Solopreneurs Can Put Stress In Its Place In 2016

to do horizontalAll small business owners, self-employed solo professionals in particular, need to work smarter not harder every day to avoid feeling overwhelmed. When you’re starting a business and then managing all aspects of it on a daily basis, it might seem like there’s never a moment when you’re caught up enough to take a breath. Oh, I know that feeling quite well! And stress can have a long list of negative effects both mentally and physically.

Signs that you’re under too much stress can include headaches, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, frequent crying, fidgeting, social withdrawal, increased use of vices (like smoking, drinking, etc.). This is the short list; stress can manifest itself in many other ways, as well.

According to the American Institute of Stress, some of the emotional and physical disorders linked to stress include anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances, skin problems, and gastrointestinal system issues.

Without a doubt, too much stress can hurt your capacity to be at your best personally and professionally. Unfortunately, none of us can control every aspect of our lives (at home or at work) to avoid stress altogether. But there are ways to help minimize stress. Continue reading “Five Ways Solopreneurs Can Put Stress In Its Place In 2016” »

By |January 26th, 2016|Running A Small Business|0 Comments

Inspiring Business Owners: An Interview with Michelle Vrakelos

As part of a new series here on The Startup Starting Line, we will be interviewing CorpNet clients to get their stories and advice to other entrepreneurs. Today, meet Michelle Vrakelos, who leveraged her 25-year dance background to open her unique fitness studio, M6 Movement in 2008.

Motivated By Her Passions

A dancer who was awarded a scholarship at the most prestigious and selective dance school on the West Coast, EDGE Performing Arts Center, Michelle was inspired by her love of dance, fitness, and people, and decided to take a leap of faith and open M6 Movement in Thousand Oaks, California.

Continue reading “Inspiring Business Owners: An Interview with Michelle Vrakelos” »

By |January 21st, 2016|Women In Business|0 Comments

Non-Disclosure Agreements: Nice or Necessary for Your Small Business?

Non disclosure agreement and penSmall business owners often believe they don’t have any kind of confidential information that needs protection—but they’re wrong! Although you may not be developing a product that will be the best thing ever invented since Post-it notes, your company has information that would best be kept private. Why? Because if it would go beyond you, your business partners, contractors, and vendors, it could jeopardize your competitive position in the market—and ultimately the success of your business.

You’ve worked hard to start your business, so it makes sense to protect your company’s confidential information. That’s why you should consider asking the people and entities you do business with to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) Basics

NDAs are generally simple and to-the-point contracts that bind someone to not disclose your company’s secrets to others. As you share things like marketing strategies, financial data, competitive analyses, or other sensitive data with vendors, partners, contractors, etc., an NDA serves to gain agreement that you’re in a confidential relationship and private information shouldn’t be revealed to anyone outside of that relationship. Continue reading “Non-Disclosure Agreements: Nice or Necessary for Your Small Business?” »

By |January 19th, 2016|Legal Tips For Small Businesses|0 Comments

How to Turn Your Passion Into a Career Opportunity

Dream Big concept with hand pressing a button on blurred abstract background

ccording to technology entrepreneur and author Daniel Gulati, the biggest regrets of professionals he interviewed were taking a job for the money and staying in dissatisfying careers. Gulati also discovered that those who eventually quit their jobs to pursue their passions wish they had done so sooner. Number three on the regret list was wishing they had the confidence to start their own business.

Whether you’re looking to quit your job to follow your passions or find them, there’s no better time than the present. You have more resources at your disposal and well within reach than ever before with online courses and the ability to connect with just about anyone. But that doesn’t mean the path to a passionate career is a clear one. Not sure where to start? Here are five ways to navigate your path to career success:

Learn on Your Own

Leave your qualms about education at the door. You may need extra training or certification, but that doesn’t mean you need to head back to school for a costly MBA. Reverse engineer your dream career by looking at the requirements of open jobs and the resumes of professionals who hold those jobs. Make a list of the skills you need and match them with seminars, such as the 200 open-enrollment courses at Moody’s Analytics. Check out vocational schools, online business classes like SkillShare and continuing adult education courses at your local university.

Get Connected

According to a study by Jobvite, 73 percent of job recruiters plan to invest in social, 63 percent in referrals and 51 percent in mobile recruiting in 2015. Getting connected through LinkedIn, networking events and social media commands attention. Cast a wide net in your efforts to get and stay connected with the right people.

It’s not enough just to meet someone in your field. Keep your focus on building genuine relationships with people by offering advice and lending a hand. The more value and authenticity you can bring to the table, the more memorable you’ll become. As you get to know your network, ask for advice on how they built up their career and what skills and experience you need to put your new career on the fast track.

Test the Market

Got an idea for a hot new product? Testing the market can be costly and time consuming for a budding entrepreneur. Streamline the process by participating in online forums, blog comments and social media groups with your target audience. For example, if your product caters to technology entrepreneurs in their 30s, go directly to the social media platforms and groups that attract them. Solicit feedback and work on notes, a design or prototype.

Next, launch a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to raise funds while testing your idea. If no one makes much of a contribution to get your product up and running, you’ll know it’s not the right idea. Once you find the right product, you’ll have the funds in place through your funding campaign to get started.

Be Unique

It’s entirely possible to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unusual, off the wall idea. For example, sock subscription company Foot Cardigan raised $250,000 on “Shark Tank.” Perhaps more impressive, the company started getting orders every 10 seconds after the company’s four founders appeared on the show. Foot Cardigan brands itself as a fun and funky business with quirky copy, a less-than-serious attitude and a collection of strange and colorful socks.

Let CorpNet help you turn your passion into profit. We can help you start a business today!

Susan Finch is a freelance writer with a passion for travel and helping small businesses find their online voice through content marketing, blogging and beyond. She is an eclectic writer with more than 10 years of experience contributing to guidebooks, magazines, iPhone apps, online publications and more. Susan can be found at

By |January 15th, 2016|Starting a Business|0 Comments