Barbara Corcoran’s Business Unusual podcast offers real-world advice to anyone running their own business. She’s been there, done that and more. This wildly successful, insightful and entertaining podcast will inspire you to take on your next business opportunity or manage through everyday challenges.

“People have to be given permission to fail, otherwise they never grow”

Here are some of the highlights from Barbara’s recent episode that covers how to be a better leader, and answers questions about financing your business and securing business loans.

Q: How can I become a better team leader?

Alberto, Francisville, Kentucky

Barbara: You’ve got to walk what you talk. If you want people to work extra hard, you’ve got to make sure you’re working extra hard – they’ll follow your example. If you want people to be team players you have to make sure you support every team member in every way you possibly can as a boss. The best leaders in the world lead by example and there’s no substitute for it. There’s no other way.

I think I’m a great boss. I feel I’ve always been a decent boss but I’ve learned to be a really good one because I’m willing to do anything that I’m asking anyone else to do, and that breeds equality and it breeds trust.  But I learned about being a good boss from a whole string of bad bosses. Often seeing something done poorly makes you pretty good at doing it better.

One summer job I had was at a hot dog stand and I did a fabulous job on the highway selling hot dogs. I think my sales were higher than most others. But I had a boss who just couldn’t give me a compliment so I never knew that I was doing better, that I had a good day, that he was proud of me. I would die for a compliment and by summer’s end I was losing the wind in my sails. You’ve got to learn to compliment people when a compliment is due.

I had another job where I had a negative boss and she was negative in the most menial kind of mean, nasty way. I was a nurse’s assistant and I had to post temperature charts for the cancer patients’ temperatures taken the night before. My boss would constantly ask me, “Is your number right? Did you reverse that? Is that a good number?” She was on my back like a monkey. And you know what I learned from that terrible boss? Never to ride someone’s back.

Convey confidence, “I know you can do it, if there’s an error you can correct it.” But never ride somebody and point out what they’re doing wrong. They’ll lose their spirit. 

Q: How do you deal with managers or bosses who say that failure is not an option?

Valentin, Toronto, Canada

Barbara: I would suggest that you replace him or her! You’re never going to be the best person you can possibly be if you’re not allowed to fail.

If you have a boss that doesn’t allow you to make mistakes or better yet, doesn’t encourage you to make mistakes, you’ve got a bad boss. You need to make lots of trials and errors to figure out what works, to get better and to get better than your competition. Imagine telling a kid they can’t try this or that. It’d be ridiculous, but people do it at work all the time.

I would suggest that you start shopping for a new boss as of today. You’re never going to grow under the strangle hold of this guy because he doesn’t allow mistakes. He’s just not a smart boss. People have to be given permission to fail, otherwise they never grow.

Q: Do the same income qualifications apply to business loans as regular loans?

Andy, Instagram

Barbara: No, business loans and personal loans are looked at very differently. Personal loans are based on your personal financial statement and your personal income. For business loans, your local bank typically expects very different qualifications. They expect several years in business, a FICO score over 700 and about a million dollars in annual revenue. That’s what you need to get a typical business loan.

Small business lenders are usually a lot more laid back. I know for example, my sponsors, OnDeck, look for a healthy business with at least a year being in business, at least $100,000 in annual revenue, and a FICO score of 625 or better for the business owner. And that’s the difference between a small business lender and a bank.


The Business Unusual podcast is downloaded by 1.3MM listeners annually, routinely appears in the iTunes top 200 podcasts worldwide, and has a 5/5 star iTunes rating. Check it out here.

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