As the first female shark on Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran knows how to swim in the deep end--and more than hold her own. She's an inspiration to countless entrepreneurs, male and female, and dishes out advice she learned the hard way. She turned a small real estate venture into a multimillion dollar industry in Manhattan, and has come a long way from humble beginnings.

Here's some of the best advice she's handed out, some of which gives us an idea of what she looks for in an entrepreneur. Are you a little fish in a big pond? You can still make it as long as you have the right inspiration.

1. On Instinct

"Don't you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct." Instinct is a lifesaver for sharks and entrepreneurs alike. Most people can recall times they ignored their gut only to regret it later. Learning to actually listen to your instinct is a great form of self-preservation. It's both incredibly easy and tough at the same time, but worth the effort to master.

2. On Demand

"In business, you're the chief salesman. Create a sense of demand, rather than waiting to have demand." You know business is all about supply and demand, so why not create the demand yourself? It's where marketing, advertising, and customer relations come into play. It's not enough to just have a great idea or product. You must aggressively market yourself when appropriate.

3. On Happiness in Business

"I built the business exactly the way my mother built and ran her family. I wanted a replication of the big, happy family I grew up in. I wanted happy people having fun." Having happy employees can turn you into a success story. If your employees like what they do, it usually results in happier customers, which make everything a little easier.

4. On Picking the Right People

"A complainer is like a Death Eater because there's a suction of negative energy. You can catch a great attitude from great people." When you're selecting team members to join your startup or small business make sure you pick someone who shares your vision and is just as enthusiastic as you. That sounds like a no-brainer on paper but watch out because in real life the search can be difficult.

5. On Perspective

"Buyers decide in the first eight seconds of seeing a home if they're interested in buying it. Get out of your car, walk in their shoes and see what they see within the first eight seconds." If you want to know what buyers want, practice empathy. See things from a customer perspective always. That insight is an invaluable tool to hone.

6. On Opportunity

"The best time to expand is when people are asleep at the wheel." Always keep an eye out for the industry that needs disruption, or is simply filled with companies that are resting on their laurels or spinning their wheels. Take advantage of slow periods and make sure you're never the one who falls behind. If you see an opening, grab it.

7. On Balance

"I wanted to be a 150 percent entrepreneur and a 150 percent mom, and I found that I was having a very hard time doing both. I was about 75 percent and 75 percent--still better than 100 percent, but not what I was accustomed to at work." Some think that in business, there's no such thing as balance. However, there is such a thing as striving towards better balance. Nobody can have it all, so you'll need to figure out what's important to you.

Words of wisdom, especially free ones, can be your golden ticket to success. Whether it's trusting your gut, snatching opportunities before they slip away, or putting yourself in the customer's position, Corcoran speaks from experience. She's an important business role model, not just because of her success, but now partly because of her influence on millions of entrepreneurs who watch her several times a week on TV. Her story is inspiring for anyone interested in starting a business or trying to become more successful in general.

Published on: Sep 29, 2014
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