Sometimes opportunity lands in your lap, but opportunity can be time sensitive, so sometimes you’ll have to act fast, even if it’s in an unfamiliar industry. Today the web is filled with information on every industry, but the learning curve can feel like hitting a brick wall at 60 m.p.h. But there are folks who can help you overcome the education barrier. Here are some ways to get their help:

  1. Hire the Industry Veterans: They know how things work. They want to demonstrate their value and prove they can still make a difference. Show respect for their experience, and they’ll give you the head start you need. Their industry contacts and know-how will be hugely valuable.
  2. Ask Your Buyers: Most of your buyers will appreciate your interest in their opinions, especially when you’re in the product planning stages. They know what will sell and what price will work best. Getting them involved in the planning process will give them a reason to buy your product when it becomes available.
  3. Ask Your Vendors: They want to sell you their products. They see you as a potential customer. Anything they can do to help you become a success helps them, and gives you a reason to buy from them. Their knowledge about how to buy and other efficiencies are invaluable.
  4. Ask Your Distributors: Compliance issues may change the way your product is marketed in other states and countries. It’s your distributors’ business to know the rules. They can let you in on the nuances that may seem counterintuitive at times, and they can save you time and money. They can share with you the sales programming that has been effective.
  5. Ask the People on the Ground: Retailers, clerks, truckers, warehouse workers, technicians, salespeople, and all the other hands-on people almost never get asked their opinions. They will be thrilled to give it. Since they see exactly where the rubber meets the road, they will have practical, and sometimes surprising, takes on what works and what doesn’t, and they can give you unexpected market advantages.

It’s easy to visualize your end-user customer enjoying the benefits of your product. If your idea is coming from outside its industry, all the better. Many of the best innovations come from outside their industries – but be sure to get your insight from the insiders so you won’t be flying blind.

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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