Barbara Corcoran’s credentials include straight D’s
in high school and college and 20 jobs by the time
she turned 23. It was her next job that would make
her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the
country when she took a $1,000 loan to start The
Corcoran Group. She parlayed the loan into a $5
billion real estate business and sold it in 2001 for
Barbara is the real estate contributor for NBC’s
TODAY Show where she comments weekly on
trends in the real estate market. She’s also a Star
on ABC’s reality hit Shark Tank. In the first and
second season, Barbara bought 13 young
businesses that she’s shepherding to success.
Barbara is the author of If You Don’t Have Big
Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails, an
entertaining business book that has become a
national best-seller, as well as Nextville, Amazing
Places to Live Your Life. Her latest book, Shark
Tales hit the No. 1 business book on Amazon.
Here she shares 12 of her best tips for small-
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Big Mistakes. All
the best things that happened in my business
happened on the heels of failure. Don’t be afraid to
fail; it’s proof that you are meant to be a successful
entrepreneur. 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
2. Little Companies Always Move Faster. The
big guy may have the corner on money but the little
guy usually has the corner on creativity. Take
some time to sit down and figure out how your big
rival is promoting their brand and plan something
smarter and more creative for yours.
3. Take Full Advantage of all the Free Social
Media Out There. Before you go out and blow
money on advertising, capitalize on the free online
access that leads you direct to your customers.
Blog, Tweet with humor, and make as many friends
as you can on Facebook. You can quickly build a
huge following of customers willing to try your new
product without spending a dollar on advertising.
4. Don’t Rush Out to Get a Patent. Most
entrepreneurs get a patent on their new product as
soon as they open their business. All that does is
help build your patent attorney’s business rather
than yours. It’s a much better bet to put all your
energy into getting your product to market before
the next guy does. Patents only protect you IF you
have the money to defend them, and most young
5. Make a Marketplace Report. The best way
to get some attention for your brand is to publish an
industry report chock full of statistics. You’ll be
surprised how much you know about your industry
once you start putting some numbers down on
paper. Reporters need stories, and if you put your
report in a short, easy-to-read format and name it
after your company, you’ll soon become the expert
reporters call when they need a quote. The easiest
way to steal market share from your competitors is
to steal the limelight, and nothing does that faster
than being quoted in the press.
6. Choose Only Really Good People. Make sure
you pick good people to build your business with,
as they’ll determine 80% of your success. The best
people are honest and have lots of enthusiasm.
Don’t worry too much about their level of
experience when you’re interviewing, as the right
attitude always delivers much more than just
7. There Are Only Two Kinds Of People In
Business — Know the Difference. There are
really only two kinds of people: expanders and
containers. Learning to separate them quickly into
the right category will save you a lot of time.
‘Expanders’ like to push the envelope, take risks,
make new friends, and test how far they can go!
They also like to spend your money. ‘Containers’
like to keep things in order and stay on top of the
details. They keep you from losing your money. If
you match the right person to the right position that
takes advantage of their natural talents you’ll build
a powerful team of workers with all the strength
needed to build a huge business.
8. Focus On What’s Already Working For You
and Do More Of It. When you look for ways to
expand your business, the real pot of gold is usually
the same stuff that’s already proven successful. So
before you move on to the next exciting project or
a new strategy, s-l-o-w down. Do a lot more of
what’s already working and then do the new stuff.
9. Stop Putting It Off! Procrastination is the
enemy of success. The time you waste on stalling
breeds guilt, and guilt deflates energy and
sometimes even leads to depression. When you
feel stuck and can’t seem to move ahead, always
remember that you don’t have to get it right, you
just have to get it going!
10. Make a System for Everything You Need
To Do More Than Once. My mother ran her
house like a boot camp. She had to – she had 10
children! She set up two sock drawers in the
kitchen – the boy’s drawer with all blue socks all in
one size and the girl’s drawer with all white socks,
all the same size. I learned from my mom that to
run a growing business you need to set up a system
for everything. If you take the time to set it up
once, you’ll build your business faster and avoid
wasting time and handling customer complaints.
11. Make Sure You Know What Not To Do.
Everyone should have their own ‘Not To Do’ list. I
sit down regularly and make a list of all the things I
have spent time on that have amounted to nothing.
It’s smart to post your ‘Not To Do’ list where you’re
bound see it so you’re reminded to do more
productive things that give a better return on the
time you spend at work.
12. Shoot the Dogs Early!
If you spot a complainer and if you have the authority to do it,fire them right away. Complainers are like thieves, robbing you and your company of its good energy. Your whole team’s outlook will shine brighter once you’re rid of them.