Persistence and Instinct: Barbara Corcoran’s Secrets to Success
Entrepreneurship Mediaplanet sat down with America's favorite businesswoman to talk about setbacks, success and failure.
Mediaplanet: How did you take a $1,000 loan and turn it into a multi-million dollar real estate empire?
Barbara Corcoran: I wrote a whole book about that. You'll have to read "Shark Tales" to get the full story, but in a nutshell I took that $1,000, along with a whole lot of work using the smart lessons I learned from my mom at home, and I didn't stop until I had built the biggest residential real estate company in New York City—then I sold it for $66 million.
MP: What are some key aspects to consider when starting your own business?
BC: It's smart to answer three questions before you start your own business: Who will buy my product or service? How much will they pay for it? Who are my competitors and do I offer something better?
MP: How would you define entrepreneurship?
BC: Entrepreneurship is a hunt. It's having a clear picture of what you're after, overcoming the obstacles and not coming home till you get it.
MP: What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs? Women looking to work their way up the business ladder?
BC: Start your own business when you decide where you want to go, who you want to be and how you'll do it. You'll need to find your voice and learn to use it. I’ve had to learn to shout on "Shark Tank" to be heard. Also, women by far have better gut instincts—trust your gut.
MP: As an investor through ABC’s "Shark Tank," what characteristics do you look for in senior management roles?
BC: The same thing I look for in all leaders—enthusiasm and high energy. As a business owner, you typically work 24/7 for five to 10 years. Meanwhile, you're underpaid and often taken advantage of before you achieve any real success. You're going to need a lot of energy and enthusiasm to pull that off.
MP: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
BC: I learned a long time ago there's no such thing as balance. When I was building my first big company while raising my young son, I felt guilty all the time. If I was in the office, I felt bad I wasn't with my son, and if I was with him, I felt guilty for neglecting my business. Chasing after balance that doesn't exist just makes things worse. I learned to throw myself into each portion of my life 150 percent when I was there and separate the two. If I was with my son I wouldn't touch anything to do with the business, and when I was at work I never thought about my kids.
MP: What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
BC: Don't be afraid to make big mistakes. All the best things that happened in my business happened on the heels of failure. Failing a lot is the ultimate proof that you're meant to be a successful entrepreneur, as it shows you're willing to shake up the status quo and try new things. I've found that the only difference between people who are hugely successful and those who aren’t is the time it takes them to get back up after getting knocked down. The really smart entrepreneurs are too stupid to lay low. They bounce right back and say, "hit me again."