TBSWe are often asked to speak about the financial advantages of American entrepreneurial practices when we speak to people in emerging markets. Even though some American entrepreneurs may have forgotten, it is our ethics that ultimately give us the edge. Compare this to the new emerging economies where cultures of fear, desperation and dog-eat-dog may appear to be the order of the day.

One of the themes we keep coming back to in our keynote speeches is that integrity and good business values just plain make good sense. Beyond the warm and toasty feeling doing the right thing brings, we’re also talking deposits here. The term “ethics” has been overdone, dated, and evokes a goody-goody image, but don’t limit it to that. Being reliable, trustworthy, and fair are real business advantages today and in the future.

Buyers have many choices when it comes to products and services. They look beyond for companies that stand behind their products and resolve quality related issues quickly. When buyers have a positive experience with a company, they become not only loyal customers, but strong advocates.

Having empathy in every business relationship is the true guide to treating customers, employees and associates right. When you put yourself in their shoes, you know what they would ideally like to happen in any given situation. This insight is the blueprint for the action you and your company must take to maximize these relationships.

For instance, you can significantly reduce your need for capital, so important to a start-up, by being honest with your bankers, investors and vendors. Meeting with them often and laying out your business plans will give them the sense of confidence they need to make allowances that can increase your credit and extend your terms.

Bending over backwards to bring mistakes to the attention of the effected parties before they find out will build your credibility and demonstrate your honesty, and show them that you are the kind of company they want to do business with. This demonstrates that you have their best interests at heart and may result in more beneficial programming and promotion of your products. Further, they gain respect for you because of how you handled a foul-up, missed delivery, or defective product.

Rather than fighting your competition, get out of the negative cutthroat mode and into the creative mode. Distinguish your products and services. If you want to compete, do so with yourself, and do better this year than you did the last. We build Barefoot Wine by attacking where the “enemy” was not. The retailers in remote areas were so happy to get attention from us, they strongly supported us in places most people never heard of. This gave us a firm financial foundation to expand into the more popular markets.

These are just a few ways taking the high road will pay off financially. By framing these values in business terms instead of moral terms we hope to appeal to a wider audience. Often, the threat of ruthless competition, shorting the customer, doing the minimal, and ignoring your commitments are sold as shortcuts to fortune. We are told that everybody is doing it and if you don’t, you will be left in the dust. We find this fear-based attitude is taking hold in the developing economies. And for a while it may appear to be advantageous, but in the long run it is short sighted and forgets that people remember. Ultimately this cut-throat approach will cut your own income.

We offer an alternative to sustainable entrepreneurship that is based on loyal customers, increased credit, and mutually beneficial strategic alliances. There are no short cuts to the bank!



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 www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.