IAM021 – Lawyer Turned Entrepreneur Helps Businesses File Their Business

Deborah Sweeney of

Deborah Sweeney is a lawyer turned entrepreneur who runs a legal filing business,, which she acquired out of Intuit. She has successfully grown by focusing on top-notch customer service, and a long time customer value.

  • CEO Hack: Managing Calendar and time-blocking with team, responding to e-mails
  • CEO Nugget: Be Kind
  • CEO ReDefined: Providing Leadership



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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:28

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Deborah Sweeney from Deborah, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Deborah Sweeney 0:38

Gresham, thanks so much for having me. It's my pleasure.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. I'm happy to have you on the show. What I wanted to do is read a little bit about Deborah so you can learn a little bit about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Deborah Sweeney is a lawyer turned entrepreneur who runs a legal filing business, which she acquired out of Intuit. She has successfully grown by focusing on top-notch customer service and long-time customer value.

Deborah, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Deborah Sweeney 1:07

I'm ready.

Gresham Harkless 1:08

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Well, what I wanted to do was kind of give you the mic so to speak for the first question to see if you can tell us a little bit more about your CEO story and what kind led you to start your business.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Deborah Sweeney 1:17

Sure. So I was running the business I now own as a part of Intuit as the General Manager of the division. And it was 2009, the economy was faltering a bit. I had seen smaller divisions within Intuit be divested or closed. So around the time I presented to the Intuit leadership that I was interested in buying the business if they were ever interested in selling it, just to say, to put it in their minds, but not thinking that actually, it might come true.

So then there were other possible buyers, and I was fortunate enough to, I guess, demonstrate the ability to continue to run the business, to maintain the business for the employees and the shareholders, and to spin the business out. So we have been successfully growing the business outside for the last almost nine years. I've been successful in the sense that I didn't become an entrepreneur necessarily with the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur. I'm a lawyer by trade, as you mentioned, but it was a nice change of pace for me.

It was perfect, and I've enjoyed every bit of that.

Gresham Harkless 2:16

Awesome. Yeah, it's funny, sometimes you don't expect things to happen once you put them out into the universe, or as you said, you just say what it is that you're hoping to happen. It sometimes always happens to kind of catch us off guard.

Deborah Sweeney 2:27

Right, sometimes you have to be careful with what you wish for.

Gresham Harkless 2:31

That our words are very powerful. I wanted to hear a little bit more about what you're doing at Could you take us through some of the products and services that you have for entrepreneurs and business owners?

Deborah Sweeney 2:43

Absolutely. So if you're a new business owner, or you're a business owner that's done this many times, you know that there's a part of starting a business where you have to incorporate or form an LLC with the state level, often in the state in which you're doing business, or there's often business licenses DBAs and filings that need to be taken care of. So what we try to do is to take that burden off of the hands of the entrepreneurs and business owners and take it into our own hands, making sure that they not only file in a timely manner for their new startup but also that they maintain their corporation and good standing for the long term life of their business.

We try not to just be a transaction-based company but to really as you mentioned earlier, focus on the lifetime value, how can we provide value for a business as they're growing for and qualifying outside of their home state, getting into new businesses filing for trademarks or copyrights, taking on employees opening payroll, and needing state ID filings as to ease and withholding filings to have to qualify at the state. So all of those are things that we help business owners with.

Oftentimes the business owner questions just about running a business, and so we also try to be an information-based company where they can come and get answers about not just the legal nuances, but the practical pieces of running and maintaining a business.

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Gresham Harkless 3:53

Yeah, absolutely. You've done a phenomenal job of answering a ton of questions that we have on our CEO Roundup so I definitely appreciate you for that and appreciate kind of all the information that you've given to anybody that might be going through some of our blogs and looking for information on the practical sides of actually running a business.

Deborah Sweeney 4:09

It's fun, right? It's fun to not just think about selling a product, but also offering value to customers and business owners, and entrepreneurs. They often have questions, the same questions I have. So it's fun to share my experience, both in the corporate world, in the legal world, and then also in the entrepreneurial world.

It's a neat opportunity to have that experience and share what I know and absolutely nothing that I don't know.

Gresham Harkless 4:31

Which can always be a lot for a lot of us, so that's why we're always leaning on experts like yourself to be able to know at least not know what we don't know, but at least know who we can ask if we need to know an answer to a specific question.

So I wanted to ask a little bit more about your organization, and your company what do you feel is kind of unique about What is your kind of differentiator?

Deborah Sweeney 4:53

I really believe that you mentioned earlier in my intro that it's our customer service that keeps us unique in the industry, that semi commoditized. There are so many providers that do incorporations and LLC filings. Our focus is really on building relationships with our clients. So what makes us special is our team, we listen, we pay attention to what you need, and we work with many large companies that use us as their backend. So sometimes, the clients or entrepreneurs may not even know who's doing it behind the scenes, so our goal is to really create a relationship with our partners and our customers in order to make sure we're filling that need for them.

What makes us really different is we listen, we want to know what they don't know, and we want to try to answer those questions. We want to try to be a great resource. We also focus on automation technology and tools, but truthfully, a lot of times when business owners are going into business, they might be looking for an online service, but they're also looking for guidance. So we cannot give legal advice, per se, but we try to give them as much guidance about the process, what to expect, how to get started, how to manage the business over the long term, what the filing deadlines are, what the requirements are.

So really being a good translator from the state and business nuances to how a business can practically just make sure they're in good standing.

Gresham Harkless 6:06

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I think being able to kind of couple both of those things together where you provide that listening ear, but also are able to provide the technology aspect of it. Because you know, you can go online and find information that you guys provide on your website. I think that's huge because it's such a scary thing to kind of start a business.

Sometimes you need to have that conversation with somebody and have that listening ear so you know that you're you are making the right decision so it's awesome that you guys focus on that.

Deborah Sweeney 6:31

Yeah, absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 6:32

One of the next things that I wanted to ask you was basically for a CEO hack. This might be like a resource, or a book, or something that you use, or can kind of lean on an everyday basis that you feel like makes you more effective and efficient as a business owner.

Deborah Sweeney 6:46

I know it's not something novel, but I am a focused person when it comes to organizing my calendar to being really strategic about how I manage my days. Because sometimes when you're running a business, your days can get away from you and you don't recognize what you've done, and you don't meet any of your goals. So it sounds silly, but my outlook, I create an agenda. I even create a calendar for an item for, you know, respond to email, for do particular items, when I write or I do write content or work with my team. So I scheduled them very strategically.

For example, my team members may have questions, and everyone always pops in and I sit out on the floor with the team anyway. So people are always asking me questions on any given day. But if they see on the calendar that they have a meeting with me tomorrow, then it's perfect. They organize it toward that. So I would say my CEO hack is really about staying structured and organized. Certainly knowing that variables as a business owner come in all day long. But to be as organized in your calendar and how you spend your time at work, rather than sort of letting your workday manage you.

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Gresham Harkless 7:53

I love that. Yeah, I think that it's a small thing, but it's a huge thing because I always say to myself, control what you can control and be able to kind of manage and kind of map out your schedule. Understanding that new team members can also understand when they can talk to you is huge because it helps you be more efficient and effective. I think that's a phenomenal hack.

The next thing I wanted to ask you was for a CEO nugget, which might be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice that you might have for other entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Deborah Sweeney 8:19

Okay, so I think I look back on how I got this business out of Intuit and how the whole deal happened, and how I run the business I run today. I really believe that maybe it sounds childish, but I believe in kindness. I think that people respect you when you have your mind organized and structured, but on top of it all you are kind. I believe that that's created an environment for my own business that has led to my success. So I would say a lot of times in a world where entrepreneurship is Doggy Dog and beat the competition and hear what they're doing and try to win up. Keep your employees in line and that kind of mindset.

I really believe in listening to others forging my own path, but also really spending my days treating people right. So whether it's treating customers right, treating our employees right, and I think it's not just completely altruistic, right? I don't just do it necessarily because I'm a good person, but also because it serves me well to be kind to others. What ends up happening is kindness sort of comes back to me. So I think that it works out in a holistic way. At the risk of sounding corny in an industry that is commoditized like hours, when you show that, large businesses, small businesses, employees, customers, and clients all recognize it.

I think that's how you can be a differentiator and really have my nugget of wisdom because it really does make a difference in life and in business.

Gresham Harkless 9:47

Yeah, that definitely makes perfect sense. Like we were talking about kind of like energy that you're putting out or things that you're putting out. I'm understanding that that can come back maybe in having the same exact person but maybe someplace else or even you know, understanding how small the world and especially in the business world is where sometimes people do talk and two people do know one another. If you have that reputation, if you have been putting out good vibes, so to speak, then all of a sudden things start to build upon each other.

Deborah Sweeney 10:10

I believe it and it's not overnight, right? It's who you are. It's committing to being a person of good standing. I think you're 100% right about the community. I hear all the time, oh, we've heard good things about your business. I think a lot of people say, Oh, I've just heard of your competitor, you know, and I think, okay, and then when they hear of us, they hear good things.

I'm so happy to hear that versus just knowing that they exist as a general matter, but really feeling like we're a company that's upstanding that serves well to entrepreneurs throughout the US and really focusing on that. I love to hear that more than I love to hear just, I know what your company does.

Gresham Harkless 10:44

I love that. Yeah, make sure you know you're the company on a different level, so that makes perfect sense.

Now I wanted to ask you what's your definition of being a CEO? One of the things that we get to do on this podcast is, as CEOs in different walks of life, so to speak, people that have, you know, huge teams and people that might be just starting up their organization. So I guess you, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Deborah Sweeney 11:08

I think it's about providing leadership in the true sense of the word right about not just doing everything myself, about not being a dictator or mandating what I need, but about making my team better. We recently had a sales expert come in, and really the team was so scared, what are they going to say? what are they going to do? and I thought it was just about learning. I think if you can be a good leader and help your team learn and grow then everybody is going to be better for it.

So I would say that being a CEO is really about being a leader in the type of vein that you would want to be led and wanting to get people to come to your table and to have a great attitude and to treat your customers the way you would treat them. I think that all makes a difference. People always joke that we have so much fun at our company, you know, silly things like we play games in the afternoons, we have talent shows and we play loud music when we pass out paychecks or whatever.

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People are like, how do your team work? I think, you know, I have to work here too, so I want to be the kind of CEO that enjoys going to work myself and working with people who are happy to be here. I think that is what makes a difference. You know, being the kind of person for whom you would want to work, but also being a leader, getting your team to think for themselves and do for themselves and be strategic so that again, it helps your business continue to grow.

Gresham Harkless 12:22

That's awesome and phenomenal. Yeah, it's a quick question you can always ask, we can always ask ourselves as CEOs, would you want to work for yourself? And then the answer's no. Maybe you want to make some tweaks, switches there? What it is that you're doing? But if the answer is yes, then yeah, that's definitely something awesome that you're doing.

It sounds like, you know, you create a phenomenal company culture, so that's awesome.

Deborah Sweeney 12:41

I try. I'm sure I have failed, But anyway.

Gresham Harkless 12:45

We all do, we all do. So it's awesome. Deborah, I appreciate you for taking some time out of your schedule, what I wanted to do was just kind of give you the floor, so to speak, and see if there's anything additional, you want to tell us as far as pieces of advice, word of wisdom, or anything additional about MyCorporation that we can kind of take on?

Deborah Sweeney 13:03

Sure. I mean, I think in general, when entrepreneurs and business owners are getting started, I know you talked to a lot of businesses that have been in business for a long time and know that and know the drill. But I think for those startups out there, the one thing to keep in mind is really separating your personal assets from your business, and protecting yourself. Forming a corporation or LLC is a really smart idea.

I think a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs think they have to meet a certain threshold or they have to make a certain amount of money or they have to be a certain level of sophistication. The truth is that protection, that tax savings can exist no matter what size business you have. And so really being aware of that and knowing that it's not as complicated as it seems. I think the mystique and I'm a lawyer so I know that sometimes there's this mystique to the legal filings and the act of creating and forming a business. But the truth is that it really doesn't have to be as complicated as a business owner or entrepreneur would think there is help out there.

First of all, there's tons of information, but also that the process itself once you get started is not super complicated. So I think it's just thinking strategically for yourself, especially if you have business partners, if you have investors, being mindful about how to properly structure your business and get off to the right start. So say that would be my words of wisdom. It's not as complicated as you think. You should do it right from the beginning, and grow right into your business in a successful way. Saving on taxes and making smart business decisions. Those are my parting words.

Gresham Harkless 14:23

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And one final thing I want to ask is if somebody's listening to this, and they want to follow up with you and learn more about everything, all the awesome things you're doing what's the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Deborah Sweeney 14:32

I'm really active on Twitter. So @deborahsweeney or @mycorporation. I'm also great to have people email me at dsweeney@mycorporation. I'm thrilled, I respond to emails, I respond to Twitter if there are questions you have just general business questions. All of our team members here are happy you can give us a test my word is true that we are really focused on great customer service.

So feel free to give us a call I don't know if you want my phone number, but it's 877-692-6772 and that's our toll-free number call anytime.

Gresham Harkless 15:01

Awesome. We'll have those contact information in the show notes, just in case anybody wants to follow up. But Deborah, thank you so much again and I appreciate all the awesome things that you're doing.

Deborah Sweeney 15:11

It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me. It's been fun.

Outro 15:13

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless.

Thank you for listening.

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