Barbara Corcoran's Essential Shark Tools for Success A real estate executive learns firsthand from an industry icon how to bootstrap a business, be a strong seller, attempt balance and recover from any hard knocks.

By Stacey Alcorn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The New York real estate mogul turned television personality Barbara Corcoran is every bit as succinct and quick on her feet in person as she is on the hit show Shark Tank.

What does it take to build a multimillion-dollar empire? Who better to ask than a women with experience as a bootstrapping entrepreneur and an angel investor who swoops in and saves struggling companies? Here are four lessons for achieving massive success, Shark style, that I gleaned from my conversation with her at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood, Mass., after her recent appearance at a Greater Boston Real Estate Board event.

Related: How Being Dyslexic and 'Lousy in School' Made Shark Tank Star Barbara Corcoran a Better Entrepreneur

1. Bootstrap a business.

It took 25 years for Barbara Corcoran to build her New York City real estate empire and she did it by bootstrapping. Today, she invests in businesses of all sorts on Shark Tank.

I asked her if, knowing what she does now about seed money, angel investing and venture capital, would she do things differently today to build a real estate firm from scratch.

Answering "no," Corcoran explains that bootstrapping is the way for an entrepreneur to go if she can.

"When you build your business by bootstrapping, every penny counts," Corcoran says. This requires the entrepreneur keep operations lean and although it may be a tougher road for growth, she'll end up at the finish line with full control of her business.

2. Demonstrate selling power.

How does Corcoran decide which businesses to invest in? It comes down to the entrepreneur involved. Corcoran invests in companies whose owners can sell, exuding a mix of confidence, high energy, street smarts and absolute business knowledge.

What kinds of companies does she avoid? Corcoran usually won't buy into a business started by a rich kid, she says, as she likes to collaborate with people with a strong work ethic. Corcoran prefers investing in the companies of those without a backup plan whose only option is absolute success.

Related: Want Your Kid to Be Successful? Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran Says You Should Do This.

3. Recognize the myth of work-life balance.

Corcoran has two kids, an 8-year-old adopted daughter and a son in his 20s. When asked if there's such a thing as work-life balance, she says "no." For her, work has always been a big part of her life and the perfect balance is impossible to attain.

That being said, she has found ways to leave her work at the office so she can truly be present when she's with her husband and kids.

For example, if she's taking her daughter to the park, she'll usually leave her phone at home. If she's having dinner with her family, the phone is left behind. Achieving balance is difficult, Corcoran says, but being really engaged with the people one cares about is something all business owners can strive for by taking small steps like putting down the phone.

4. Recover from hard knocks.

The best entrepreneurs are the ones who can take a blow and come back stronger, Corcoran says. For example, her original business partner was her boyfriend, Ramone Simone. He was 51 percent owner of a New York real estate business but Corcoran was the hustle behind its growth, she said.

When he announced that he was breaking off his personal relationship with Corcoran because he was dating the company's secretary, Corcoran was stunned. Instead of falling down and staying down, she used her anger and resentment to leave their joint real estate firm in favor of starting her own.

Simone told Corcoran she would never make it on her own, but she used those words as fuel to fight her way through the ups and downs of a tumultuous real estate market. Whereas his real estate business eventually went under, her company went on to become a massive empire that she eventually sold for $66 million.

Related: Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran: 4 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do

Wavy Line
Stacey Alcorn

Author and Entrepreneur

Stacey Alcorn is CEO of Boston-based Laer Realty Partners.  She owns and operates several businesses in the Boston area including a consulting firm, a law firm and a fashion line. She is the author of REACH! -- Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence.

Editor's Pick

A Leader's Most Powerful Tool Is Executive Capital. Here's What It Is — and How to Earn It.
One Man's Casual Side Hustle Became an International Phenomenon — And It's on Track to See $15 Million in Revenue This Year
3 Reasons to Keep Posting on LinkedIn, Even If Nobody Is Engaging With You
Why a Strong Chief Financial Officer Is Crucial for Your Franchise — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Related Topics

Business News

'The Last Straw': Customers Furious as Netflix Begins Charging Accounts for Password Sharing

The announcement is long-anticipated — Netflix has been threatening a crackdown since last year.

Business News

The Virgin Islands Want to Serve Elon Musk a Subpoena, But They Can't Find Him

Government officials would like to talk to Tesla's owner as part of an investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Business News

'Iconic': Woman Defies Wedding Food Budget by Ordering Chili's for Guests

TikToker Madison Mulkey is going viral for her savvy spending decision.

Growing a Business

My Startup Scored a Multimillion-Dollar Contract With a Fortune 100 Client in Just 3 Years. Here's What We Learned.

There's no perfect litmus test to gauge if you're ready to go after big business or not — but if you don't take the risk, you'll never realize the reward.


5 Questions to Ask a PR Pro Before Hiring Them

You probably haven't considered asking these questions, but they're a great way to find the right PR firm for your business.