Good business relationships are built on trust. People who depend on you, from your creditors to your employees, need to confidently rely on you to treat them fairly.

Once they know you can be depended upon, they will extend their cooperation and even make allowances for you. This is absolutely critical to your success.

The sooner you demonstrate that you are trustworthy, the faster you will receive the benefits, such as extended credit, loyalty, engagement, priority ranking, increased sales, and opportunities. The key is to be proactive. Look for ways to show all the folks you work with that you have their best interests at heart.

Here’s our short list for how to build and grow trust:

1. Communicate often

Be clear about what you are doing and why. Don’t leave anyone in the dark guessing what you are up to. We recommend regular meetings with creditors, suppliers, outsourced services, and your own team. Alleviate their fears by sharing vital information early and often. The more they know, the more confident they feel about working with you.

2. Forge alliances

Identify who gets ahead if you do and forge these strategic alliances. Treat these folks like business partners, such as sharing your plans for expansion with suppliers who will benefit from your increased business. Discover how you can work together to improve their business while reducing your need for capital, such as long-term contracts in return for free warehousing and better terms.

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Who Are We.

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 in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. 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 offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders