First published on Entrepreneur.com on 7/22/2017

Like most startups, we started out undercapitalized. The only “office” we could afford was our laundry room. We had extra space there because we couldn’t afford a washer and a dryer. Our first desk was an old door we supported on two sawhorses. We were scrambling for sales, every day, just to stay in business. There were only two of us, but there was no question in anyone’s mind that without sales we were finished, and then there would be no Barefoot Wine!

As we began to grow we hired people who specialized in production, accounting, marketing and administration. We moved into larger offices and even hired a sales force that worked throughout the country. The salespeople were “outside” while the office and production people were “inside.”

That’s when we began to see our little company slowly but surely succumb to the pyramid corporate structure. Each division established its hegemony. People began to compare themselves to other professionals in other companies in terms of salary and best practices. Before long, our flat two-person company looked like a pyramid. Eventually, the organization chart became a constant status reminder with various levels and impenetrable silos.

 

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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 www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders