Here my company CorpNet, we pride ourselves on being a family-owned business. My husband Phil and I are the founders and owners of CorpNet and we have been partners since Day 1. We’re excited to be successful entrepreneurs who have helped create jobs for several of our favorite people – our CorpNet employees are just like family to us.
But it’s worth remembering that success doesn’t happen overnight. CorpNet recently was profiled in a great article in the Pacific Coast Business Times (subscription required). The article discussed the history of how Phil and I started our first online incorporation service back in the “old days” of 1997, at a time when we were really struggling financially.
We were poor law students, living off of student loans. Phil was waiting to take the bar exam, and I was driving through hours of traffic in car with no air conditioning to commute to a job that barely helped pay the bills. I came home from work crying one day, totally stressed out and overwhelmed, and I said to Phil, “Can you do something to contribute financially to this relationship?” Phil was literally sitting on the couch in his boxer shorts, and he said, “I have an idea. I want to start a company on the Internet!”
Phil had read about incorporating businesses as part of his law school education, but no one else seemed to be offering this service online. We saw an opportunity in the market and decided to capitalize on it.
We paid $100 to register a website for “MyCorporation.com” and started offering an online business incorporation service. Our website was so simple – just some text and a phone number, basically. Our first customer called asking to incorporate a company in Oregon, which we didn’t know how to do. We ran around to law libraries until we found the information we needed. (This was in the days before Google and Wikipedia and easy access to government information online.)
We used Phil’s mother’s merchant account to process credit card payments. (This was in the days before PayPal made it possible to easily move money online.)
We started small and bootstrapped the business, avoiding any unnecessary expenses. We worked out of our basement, not even renting office space until we reached $100,000 per month in sales.
After several years of successful operations, in 2005 we realized a level of financial success that we never imagined: we sold our company to Intuit for $20 million. Phil tried to stay on and work at the company after the sale to Intuit, but working in corporate America was a lot less fun than entrepreneurship, so he quit.
Suddenly Phil and I had gone from passionately involved with running our own company, to having plenty of money and plenty of free time, but not enough to do.
One of the conditions of the sale was that Phil and I had a non-compete agreement where we could not enter into the incorporation services market. For a few years I tried to do other entrepreneurial activities, mostly related to fashion and fitness – at one point I was trying to sell T-shirts to my fitness classmates. Then Phil said, “We have to get you back into running a business.” So in 2009, after our non-compete period was over, we founded CorpNet, and the rest is history.
For me and my husband Phil, starting and growing a business has been an amazing adventure fueled by passion and love. We love working together as a husband and wife who are also business partners. We feel like the love and strength we get from our marriage also carries over to our work for our customers.
It’s possible to start a business, starting from nothing – just like Phil and I did when he was sitting on the couch in his boxer shorts, back when I was making $10 an hour and hating my commute – and have it grow to become something greater than you ever dreamed. We did it. So can you!
Ready to get off the couch and start a business that can keep your whole family comfortably outfitted in boxer shorts? Talk to CorpNet for a free business consultation on how to incorporate a business. CorpNet’s free tools, advice and guidance can help you choose a business structure, form an LLC, set up an S-Corporation or other corporate entity to protect your assets and attain the corporate tax benefits and financial advantages of doing business as a corporation.