One of the most effective and often over-looked resources to build and grow your business  is strategic alliances. “Partnerships” with other businesses and organizations who benefit by your success can help you meet your bills, get the word out about your company, and improve your image.

Who succeeds if you succeed? As your business begins to grow and gain traction, you may find new allies you didn’t know you had. Being aware of who they are and constantly looking for new ones are great hallmarks of sustainable business success.

Here are a few types of strategic partners and how to best work with them to your mutual benefit:

  • Suppliers and Service Providers generally want to see you succeed because that results in greater sales of their products and services. They have at least two major concerns: First, if they give you extended credit; will you still be loyal once you get on your feet, or will you run off to their competitor? Second, will you pay on time, or will you be a beg pay? Allay these fears with a long-term contract that protects both your price and their future. Give them periodic progress reports to let them know how you are doing. When you first realize you can’t make a payment on time, call them well in advance, and give them your payment plan. Be a real partner.
  • Distributers and Wholesale Buyers want you to succeed because they are profiting from the sale of your product. Their goal is to sell more of your product. Help them with local grass roots promotions that send them customers. Assist them in merchandising your product. Offer quantitative discounts when you are in a cash flow bind. Increase their profitability and volume, making it possible for them to reduce the price to your end users. Your product is far from sold when you sell it to your distributer. By helping your distributors and their retailers sell your product, you will solidify this partnership.
  • The Media will help you get the word out. Find the press writer or blogger who will benefit from being the first to announce your company’s new offices, improved products, or other business news. By going to her on a regular basis with exclusive stories, she becomes the unofficial spokesperson for your company. She needs the latest scoops and hot news breaks to improve her reputation. She will be more likely to publish articles about your company if you go to her first with news worthy stories.
  • Nonprofit Organizations you support want you to grow. Your success will spread the word about their goals through your distribution channels, resulting in more dollars, man hours and donations to their cause.
  • Worthy Cause Marketing can be more effective and cost efficient than conventional advertising to acquire and retain new customers. Identify with a cause that resonates with you, your brand, or your business. Give the organization’s membership and supporters a social reason to buy your product. Make your business stand for more than the product it sells by getting involved in their goals.

As you set out on your journey, don’t overlook your fellow travelers. Look around you, and see who else is going your way. Then give them a lift. They will do the same for you.

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