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Barbara Corcoran: Most entrepreneurs 'never get out of the gate.' Here are her 3 tips to build a successful business

"The moment you think of an idea is the moment you should run with your business."

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Barbara Corcoran speaks on stage at NAPW 2014 Conference
Brian Ach | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic, which forced millions of workers out of their jobs and radically changed how millions more clock in to work, has Americans rethinking how they'll make a living going forward. Nearly three-quarters of adults — 70% — said they were considering adding a second source of income, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and 27% said that they were more likely to start their own business.

If you're thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or turning your side hustle into a full-time gig, there's no time like the present, says real estate mogul and "Shark Tank" investor Barbara Corcoran. "My belief is that it's never too early to start a business, and many people out-think it and never get out of the gate," she tells Grow.

Of course, if you dream of making it big as an entrepreneur, you'll likely have to convince investors to buy into your vision. If you want to build a successful business, follow these three tips, Corcoran says, to turn that dream into a reality.

Don't be deterred if people say you're 'not ready'

As you try to get your business idea off the ground, you'll face a chorus of naysayers you'll have to learn to tune out, says Corcoran. "Entrepreneurs are told every day of the week that they're not ready," she says. "They shouldn't fall for it."

If you have a burning passion or a great idea, every second you spend thinking about whether it's viable or not is wasted time, she says. "The moment you think of an idea is the moment you should run with your business," she says. "It's like the birth of a child. You can't say, 'Oh wait, Doc — come back in two years and I'll have that baby. The baby is on its way.'"

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How Barbara Corcoran reversed her rejection from 'Shark Tank'

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Does that mean you should take out a second mortgage to rent space for your just-conceived quirky restaurant idea? Probably not. But getting the ball rolling on your idea means that you'll begin the process of learning the ins and outs of your potential business, according to Corcoran.

"You don't have to get it right; you just have to get it going," she says. "When you get it going, you're out in the street, finding your solution, seeing what's wrong with it, and then making rhyme and reason of your idea and making a real business."

Turning a side hustle into a business? Prove your concept

Many would-be entrepreneurs that Corcoran sees on "Shark Tank" are hoping to turn what they do on nights or weekends into their full-time gig. Discerning if your side hustle has the legs to become a viable business comes down to one thing, Corcoran says: money.

"Most side hustles — the great majority of them — are hobbies, and they should stay that way," she says.

"The moment your side hustle makes enough money to support you, you stop making it a side hustle. You know you have a business on your hands," she says.

If your idea is outside the box, it may take longer to see profits come to fruition. Corcoran knows this firsthand. In 2009, she and the other "Shark Tank" investors passed on an opportunity to invest in a business that sold designer face masks, a move that she recently called her "worst missed investment."

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Barbara Corcoran doesn't regret passing on opportunity to invest in face masks

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Before you pitch an idea to potential investors, test it out on a smaller audience, Corcoran says. "If you have an out-of-the-box idea, take it to your mother-in-law and see what she thinks," she says. "Ask her to write a check if your idea is so good. And if she doesn't, go back to the drawing board and rework your idea. That's the litmus test everybody should take before they even walk into an investment group."

Wear your heart on your sleeve

If you're a fan of "Shark Tank," you know that nothing gets the investors' mouths watering like steadily growing sales and impressive profit margins. But to get someone — whether it's a family member or a partner at a venture capital firm — to write you a check, Corcoran says, you'll need to show that you're passionate about your business.

"When I make my decisions, it's never about the numbers," Corcoran says of her investments on "Shark Tank." "It's always, for me, the desire behind the entrepreneur. How badly do they want it?"

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Barbara Corcoran: How your hobby can become a side hustle

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Corcoran cites womenswear firm Grace & Lace, whose co-founder began knitting in the wake of a pregnancy loss, as an example where she looked beyond the numbers. "They were so passionate about wanting to make something good of that tragedy," she says. After Corcoran invested, the company expanded its product lines, ballooned to $70 million in sales, and has used its profits to open 13 orphanages in India.

"It's always the passion behind the numbers and the individual that I'm paying attention to, because that's always the business I make the most money in," Corcoran says. "And it's also the one that brings me the greatest satisfaction."

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