“Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.” ~Barbara Corcoran
In 1973 Barbara Corcoran started a real estate agency with her boyfriend with a thousand dollars that he loaned to her. She was young, ambitious and carried a moxie that mirrored the image of New Jersey women. Corcoran attributes her street smarts and experience rather than her failed academic pursuits for her success. In two years she and her partner had built a firm with over $500,000 in revenue, when he abruptly left her. The original business liquidated and Corcoran had to start from scratch. With the founding of the Corcoran Group, she founded the first female owned real estate firm in New York. Within a year her revenue was creeping up on her previous firm, where her partner had told her she would never succeed on her own.
Her branding strategy included the knowledge that perception was more valuable than reality, and Barbara Corcoran did whatever she could to establish credibility through sending statistics to writers at the New York Times, whether the statistic were based on actual findings or not. She also created creative ads that made her agents look powerful but approachable. The reality was that she was not doing much research for her reports and her agents were largely inexperienced, but the strategy worked nonetheless. She furthered her reputation by wearing brightly colored suits and attracting as much attention to herself as she could. Nearly every dollar went back into the business for marketing and growth, and while the outside world saw the Corcoran Group as power players, cash flow remained a struggle for the company.
She began selling real estate online 1993, then considered a radical move. In another signature move, Corcoran bought all the related domain names her competition would want to use so that she knew exactly when the competition would begin selling online as well. When she realized in 2001 that she had built the most successful firm in New York, she sold her firm for $66 million so that she could spend more time with her family. Her visionary personality and love of people landed her a spot on the Today show, an eventually as a panelist on the popular show Shark Tank. Her advice to young entrepreneurs is to seize opportunity without fear, see rejection as a chance for a creative solution, and fire people who bring your company culture down.