4 Important Lessons About Failure From Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran

Embracing fear and failure is a key component of becoming an entrepreneur. You need to take a leap of faith to be a success in the startup world, and no one knows this better than Barbara Corcoran.

Despite her $80 million net worth and tremendous success as a businesswoman and TV personality, “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran is no stranger to failure. She received straight D’s throughout her academic career and held 20 different jobs by the time she turned 23. But that all began to change in 1973 when she cofounded a real estate business that flourished into an exceptionally successful company. In 2001, she sold her business for $66 million to NRT Incorporated, the largest residential real estate brokerage company in the U.S.

Corcoran’s many successes over the past several decades are linked to several key insights and philosophies. She recently compiled an online class titled, “The Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship: Pitching Your Business and Yourself.” The goal of the course is to force people off the fence: to push them either to go into entrepreneurship or to keep their day jobs.

Here are the core philosophies highlighted in the course that all successful entrepreneurs should have:

Embrace Fear

Corcoran firmly believes that success and failure are undeniably linked: All successful entrepreneurs know how to fail well and deal with rejection.

Every failure has an equally great upside if you’re willing to stay in the game. The first time Corcoran gave a presentation to a large audience, she lost her voice. While many people would have avoided public speaking at all costs after this, Corcoran volunteered to teach a real estate night course at New York University. She decided that she had two choices in this situation: stay in hiding and be embarrassed and ashamed, or learn how to do it right.

Embracing and learning from fear has paved the path for Corcoran to accept opportunities and continuously pursue her dreams.

Develop Immense Optimism

In business, optimism is more important than intelligence. Sometimes, being too rational can lead to missed opportunities. Meditation will start every day with a clear and concise mind that is ready to be optimistic in the face of failure.

You have to become hopeful beyond all logic if you are going to be a successful entrepreneur. Based on Corcoran’s philosophy, you will need to see everything as half full even when everyone else sees nothing in your glass.

Create Pressure and Don’t Over-Analyze

You can’t always study to be an entrepreneur, you just have to take a leap of faith. Corcoran believes that creating pressure is important. She thinks that people under fire react more intelligently than those standing on the outside making careful assessments.

As mentioned above, logic can sometimes be more hurtful than helpful. If you wait to discover the best way to do something, you’ll be waiting forever. Corcoran doesn’t subscribe to the idea that there is a correct time to expand a business. Waiting for all the variables to fall into the perfect place will equal no results and waiting forever.

Fake It ‘Til You Are It

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to look and act the part. If you follow this strategy, without even realizing it, you will soon become the part. Insecurity never goes away; even highly effective entrepreneurs like Corcoran say that they struggle with it daily. The difference is that, for Corcoran, insecurity is a motivator.

For example, Corcoran finds that women struggle with insecurity more than men. Part of her solution is to ask herself, What would a man do? She acts as her own cheerleader and sometimes even thinks arrogant thoughts to propel herself forward: “I have every right to be here as this guy does; I have the right to be as rich as he is.”

Entrepreneurship requires proper planning and successful control over emotional change. Inspirational people like Barbara Corcoran show us that we are not alone in the struggle of successful entrepreneurship. Moreover, failure, pressure and positivity are key components of entrepreneurial success.

Photo: Flickr / fm1436

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Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC members generate billions of dollars in revenue and have created tens of thousands of jobs.
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