21 Best money tips ever: My take on Barbara Corcoran’s advice

by Nick on August 7, 2010

CNNMoney.com has a lot of fun slideshows about money.  This one claiming to hold the “21 best money tips ever” recently caught my attention. 

Feel free to check out the slide show, but we’ll take a quick look at them one at a time.  Why?  Because it’s fun and we may learn something that we can apply to our lives right away and notice a measurable improvement.  A lot of personal finance articles or books give great advice, but the benefits are not always measurable in the short term and real-world advice.  I think many of these give advice we can all adapt to our current situations in one way or another.  Plus, the folks they include are pretty successful.  So maybe they know a thing or two about money. 

Here is Barbara Corcoran’s info, straight from the slideshow:

Challenge the big guys

Barbara Corcoran
Founder, the Corcoran Group, one of Manhattan’s leading real estate firms

Best advice I can give: Bad times are the best times to move your business forward, especially if you are a small business. The big guys are back on their haunches, waiting things out. If you are willing to stick your neck out, this is when your energy and creativity can outmaneuver the big companies. This is your opportunity.

Best advice I ever got: When I was getting started with my business, my then boyfriend and business partner loaned me $1,000 and said, “You’ll never succeed without me.” It made me so mad it motivated me to make it. Negative comments or situations can become your best friend.

My take on her advice:
I agree generally that bad times provide opportunity for those who are able to sieze them.  But I caution that it is not as simple as it’s put in the slide.  Simply sticking your neck out to outmaneuver big companies does not mean borrowing a bunch of money to expand your business or compromizing who you are or your core business principles for a chance to outmaneuver big companies in my opinion.  But with careful preparation when times are good and clean balance sheets, with cash available to be a buyer when most others are sellers can position you very well for success.  But sticking to your core business or complimentary businesses or services is the key to move your business forward in bad times.  Careful growth is the key.  This is similar to what I’ve read that Warren Buffet did when he was one of very few people with cash available and willing to lend during the market meltdown of late 2008.

My take the best advice she ever got:
This I like (Except I don’t like that she borrowed money to start a business – I guess she showed me.  But I’m sure that for every Barbara Corcoran there are at least two disasters.).  There are too many “you’ll never” people and not enough “here’s how you can” folks.  And there are so many people who think the world revolves around them (like a regular guy who thinks people will care so much about what he has to say about personal finance that he starts a blog…) that they believe success is always because of them and failure is never their fault.  You don’t need these people in your life.  They’re not worth the energy (at least to me they’re not – way too negative).

Bottom line:
If you’re careful with your money.  If you don’t borrow money to fund a lifestyle.  If you run a business on cash flow and careful growth.  If you stick with your core, time-tested business principles, you’ll be ready to buy when others sell.  You’ll be ready to grow when others are shrinking.  You’ll be ready to cherry-pick valuable, complimentary assets to grow your business, especially when times are tough.  And don’t listen to folks like Ms. Corcoran’s then-boyfriend.  Not only are they wrong.  They’re more trouble than they’re worth.
So be smart with your business.  Be smart with your money.  Be ready to sieze opportunity even when times are tough.  But be smart about it.  I wouldn’t borrow to grow.  It’s way too risky for me.  It causes stress and desperation.  That could distract you from properly running your business. 
And, of course, until next time – put the credit card down and slowly step away from the mall!

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