We’ve all heard the rags to riches story of now-famous people who came from extremely humble beginnings. How do they achieve such great success?

, Vice President of Computerease, with Barbara Corcoran, star of ABC’s Shark Tank and successful author, speaker, investor and contributor to major news outlets.

This is the exact question that ABC’s Shark Tank star, Barbara Corcoran, answered for the audience at a business conference that I recently attended. Barbara is also a successful author, speaker, investor, and contributor to multiple news outlets. She shared her own rags to riches story in addition to the 5 secrets that directly contributed to her wildly successful business ventures.

Humble Beginnings With Zero Business Experience

Barbara Corcoran grew up with her loving parents and 9 siblings in a 2 bedroom flat in New Jersey. She had a rough time in school earning mostly D’s, later realizing that she was dyslexic. She tried to earn a living any way that she could but eventually ended up working as a waitress in a local diner.

A critical turning point in her life came while she was working as a waitress. She was in competition with another waitress that was getting all of the customers because the other waitress was extremely attractive.  Barbara updated her appearance by putting red ribbons in her pigtails and she started getting more customers! She attracted the attention of one man in particular, Ramone Simone. He gave her a ride home one night and eventually he became her boyfriend, mentor and business partner.

An Unconventional Beginning To A Business Empire

Ramone gave Barbara $100 for a new business outfit, suggested that she give real estate a try, and even gave her $1,000 to start a company with him (she had 49% ownership), the Corcoran-Simone group. Barbara described Ramone as her white knight that saved her from being a poor waitress in New Jersey.

However, 7 years later Ramone announced that he was going to marry Barbara’s secretary! They ultimately dissolved their business partnership and split both the personnel and a small amount of cash. Three days later Barbara moved into a new office a few floors above her old office and The Corcoran Group was founded.

5 Secrets Of Entrepreneurial Success

  1. Hard work and dedication: Barbara’s mother was the best role model for being motivated and organized as she raised 10 children on a shoestring budget.
  2. Fierce independence and forging your own path: Barbara’s father was fired from a new job every year of his life for insubordination and exemplified a true entrepreneurial spirit. 9 out of 10 of his children became successful entrepreneurs staying with the rebellious family nature.
  3. Marketing works: Barbara’s first lesson in marketing was when she put those red ribbons in her pigtails – a simple little update made a huge difference. There are countless times when Barbara was able to turn a less than ideal situation into a financial windfall purely with the right marketing strategy.
  4. Finding the right motivation: Barbara credits revenge as a driving force that kept her motivated in difficult times in her business. As Barbara and Ramone were splitting their company, he told her, “You’ll never succeed without me.” Barbara thought to herself, “Just you watch.”
  5. Keep going…no matter what: Many people simply give up when they run into hard times. Barbara and her best sales people never give up. They all follow the same recipe for success: they think fast on their feet and when a bad situation happens, they are able to turn it into an advantage. Finding the silver lining always leads to new opportunities.

Turning A $1,000 Loan Into A Company Worth $66 Million

In 2001, Barbara sold her business, The Corcoran Group, for 66 million dollars. Her grit, determination and hard work turned the initial $1,000 loan into a fortune. Now, she has been an investor on ABC’s Shark Tank for nine seasons, she is a speaker, an author, a contributor to multiple news outlets, is an accomplished author who is always looking for her next opportunity.

She has a firecracker personality and is downright hilarious. I was on the edge of my seat for her entire presentation at the conference. The most impressive thing about Barbara Corcoran is that she is completely down to earth and is very relatable, despite her immense success. Her story is an inspiration for every entrepreneur as they face the endless work of building a business.

Computerease is a family owned, full service IT support company that’s served St. Louis area businesses for the past 35 years. Our clients, some of who have been with us for 15+ years, have relied on our IT services and technology expertise to help their businesses expand and succeed. We are an IT company that makes your technology work the right way, the first time, so that you can focus on your client and growing your business!