BWF_shutterstock_121080469[1]There are a lot of ideas floating around about how to achieve success. Some people think it’s all about passion – and passion is certainly an essential ingredient. Some folks think it’s about the drive to achieve, and that will certainly keep you going when times get tough and pure tenacity is required. Others think it’s about superior marketing, like cute logos and compelling slogans, and certainly they play a part. Others think it’s about a superior product that corners the market and addresses a need missed by the competition, and that is also a big factor in success. The fact is, all of these are necessary to successfully run the race. But, sometimes we get so carried away with one or two of these success factors that we forget to take inventory, get down to basics, and truthfully assess our situation.

We have found that the 3 most important questions to answer for success (at just about anything) are the following:

1. Do you know where you are? Sounds simple and obvious, but when you look closer, you find it’s a little more complex. For instance, where are you financially? What is your skill level? How much time do you really have to devote to the project? Is the need for your product or service known and appreciated by the distribution system you must rely upon to get into the market? Do you have good credit? What is your risk tolerance? What is your time frame? And the list goes on. But you really can’t get anywhere unless you are honest and detailed about where you are right now. Find someone who really knows you, and ask them keep you honest.

2. Do you know where you are going? Are you building a business to create a job for yourself, a legacy for your family, or a value to monetize? Are you going to take over the planet or the neighborhood, or somewhere in between? Are you selling a product or a service? Online? At retail? Wholesale? Export? What are your first steps? Who is going to buy your business, brand, or product? What do you perceive as your definitive objective? Often, folks get so excited about their business ideas that they rush ahead, sometimes in the wrong direction because they didn’t really identify their ultimate goal. Look at the big picture and talk to the experts in your field before you commitment yourself to a destination. You may find yourself in a very different work style, requiring a very different skill set than the one you thought you needed if you assumed the wrong destination.

3. Do you know how to get there? The road to success may be different than your preconceived notions. For us, we discovered that in the wine business (or for that matter in any consumer products business), it was through distribution. A great product at a great price with a catchy slogan was a requirement, but the way to success required that we actually manage the distribution system. It is the way the product gets to the end-user, and it required most of our time and money. What will you find out about your business that requires more time, energy, and funding than your product? What strategies will you develop to get to your destination, given a clear understanding of where you are and where you are going?

Sure, you need various ingredients for success, but you still can’t get there without taking inventory, identifying a destination, and choosing the right route. So, honestly answer these 3 questions: Where am I? Where am I going? How do I get there?

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact