First published on Entrepreneur.com on 07/29/2017
We were broke. We were looking for every way possible to save money even though we didn’t have any. We had no choice but to be resourceful when we started Barefoot Wines. It wasn’t long before we realized that the best use of our limited funds was simply to improve the quality of our business relationships.
Did our customers, suppliers and employees like us? Did they know us? Did they trust us? If so, we could get more done with less. If not, it would cost us significantly more money and limit our opportunities to grow.
One of the greatest lessons we learned during our adventures creating this top-selling wine brand was to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Sounds simple. But it’s not. We learned that we really had to probe deeply to find out what each group wanted. It wasn’t always what we thought. We asked tons of questions, and after a while, we began to understand their needs and help them achieve their goals.
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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 email@example.com.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders