You may hear about a brand that “just took off.” From our perspective, very few brands just take off. What’s more likely is that they started out small and sometimes took years to gain traction.

As we’ve said many times before, it’s not the quality of the product, the price, or the demand so much as it is mastering the distribution and timing.

They say you can move the Queen Mary if you exert enough pressure over time. You can push with all your might for years and then, at last, slowly, it begins to move! You finally overcame the momentum and you are gaining traction. What if you gave up and stopped pushing after the first year?

We read in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Inc. magazines about seemingly overnight start-up successes. It almost looks easy. It seems like you can have instant success with just the right product at just the right time. Although there are some examples of that kind of success, it’s the less glamorous, and unheralded, “get rich slow schemes” that are more common, and more dependable.

The number-one ingredient in start-up success is not necessarily the great idea, the great price, or even the great demand. It is tenacity!

Here are 5 Tenets of Tenacity:

1) Deferred Gratification. Sometimes you work 12 hours a day and weekends just to get your idea off the ground. You may even have to forgo vacations in the early stages. Take advantage of pop-up social opportunity? Forget about it.

2) Belief in your Concept. When you are new or different, you’ll be hard pressed to find people in the distribution channels that will give you a shot. You have to hold onto a deep-seated belief in your product and its eventual success. You have to constantly imagine your customer enjoying your product even when others try to discourage you.

3) Focus. Understanding your priorities is job one. As events unfold and the hoops you have to jump through present themselves, it’s easy to get distracted. Keep your eye on your goal and focus on the big picture. The details are tedious, frustrating, and take time, but the realization of your vision is well worth the struggle.   

4) Support. Gain encouragement from the ever-increasing number of supporters you attract along the way. Starting out small, the positive feedback you get from even a relatively few happy customers will give you the confidence to press on. The support you get from other businesses that have an interest in your success will validate your concept.

5) Progress. Yes, it may take a lot longer that you thought, but you are making progress albeit ever so humble. Each little victory is one step closer to your goal. There’s nothing like actual sales to demonstrate the viability of your product. And every mistake you make, if treated as a learning experience, will improve your chances of success.

Today, tenacity has many fashionable names, like drive, charge, and the right stuff, but whatever you call it, it’s just plain old stick-to-it-ness. Starting a new business is easy and fun. But once you discover the surprising amount of time, hard work, and sacrifice necessary, it’s your tenacity that will see you through. And when you do succeed, try not to laugh when they say, “Wow! That idea just took off!”

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