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Barbara Corcoran on How to Start Your Own Business on the Side

The Shark Tank star explains her approach.

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By Barbara Corcoran


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's often easier to start a new business while you're still doing your day job, following a hunch that what you love might be just what a lot of customers out there are willing to pay for!

I sit in the lucky position as an investor/shark on the popular ABC show Shark Tank where I listen to hundreds of young entrepreneurs pitch me their businesses. To date, I've invested a few dozen, and some of them have succeeded well beyond my expectations! Many of my most successful entrepreneurs came up with their new business idea the same way they turned their personal interest into a brand new business while they were holding a full-time job.

Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac are cousins from Maine and grew up eating fresh Maine lobster. Jim worked as a medical sales rep in Boston, while his cousin sold real estate in Southern California. Simply because they loved lobster, they decided to rehab an old food truck and start selling lobster rolls on the weekend and voila-- Cousins Maine Lobster was born! In their first month of business, Jim and Sabin sold $30,000 in lobster rolls and two months later they quit their jobs to charge full-time into their brand new business. Two years later, Sabin and Jim already have three trucks, 12 franchises in eight cities, and a huge on-line "shore to door" distribution business. Their personal interests and brief weekend job exploded into a hugely successful business.

Tiffany Krumins was working as full-time nanny in Auburn, Georgia and volunteered at a local cancer clinic for children. It broke Tiffany's heart to see the children cry when they had to take their medicine eight times each day, so she made a clay model of an elephant with a medicine dispenser hidden inside. When the kids pressed a button, they heard the happy recording in Tiffany's own sweet voice -- "Ready? One, two, three! … Good job!" – cheering the kids on. The children happily swallowed their medicine. Four years later, "Ava the Elephant" is sold in almost every large pharmacy in America and is distributed at clinics across the nation. The clever inventor turned her part-time passion into a full-fledged business.

Kim Daisy of Spartanburg, SC loved baking cakes, just like her mother and grandmother before her. While she was a full-time mom, she made cakes to raise funds for her local junior league. Once word of her cakes spread outside Georgia, Kim couldn't keep up with the orders! She made an old-fashioned cake tin to freeze and ship her Daisy Cakes to customers outside of Georgia. As Kim's last child headed off to college, she started building "Daisy Cakes" full-time. Her business is in its fourth year, selling thousands of cakes online to customers nationwide. Last year, sales hit $2 million and she'll double her volume this year. Daisy Cake's secret sauce was that she started her new business as a sideline.

Most new entrepreneurs quit their day jobs before starting a new business. From what I've witnessed, it's so much smarter to start a new business with all the time constraints of a full-time job.

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran is a successful entrepreneur, having started her own real estate company with a small $1,000 loan, which after 25 years became a multi-million dollar firm, gaining her much credibility and popularity. Author of an unlikely business book and national best-seller, If You Don't Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails, Barbara also is a real estate contributor to the Today Show and CNBC, and is currently on her fourth season as a panel member in ABC's Shark Tank.

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