One of the main reasons we were successful building the Barefoot Wine brand is that we were smart enough to know that we were not smart enough in many areas. In those areas, we would hire an expert. Those areas included finance, taxes, compliance, the industry itself, chain store sales, winemaking, wine marketing, bottling, and production, just to name a few. If it sounds like we used experts in most areas, we did! And in many areas we should have hired them sooner!

Insurance Is Wisdom

We didn’t look at our investment in experts as a cost. We looked at it as an insurance policy. Why make and pay for the mistakes we surely would make when we could avoid them for a fraction of the cost? In retrospect, we would have succeeded much sooner, with less cost, time, and anxiety, with even more advise.

Humility Is Strength   

It’s OK to not know it all. In fact, it’s the best attitude to have when you are in business. Just a little advice from the right person at the right time can make the difference between success and failure. Oh, don’t worry, we made plenty of mistakes anyway, and so will you. But it was through some of our missteps that we wound up disrupting the industry (but that’s another story).

Don’t Take It Personally

Today, the shoe is on the other foot (so to speak). We are the advisers and our clients are the entrepreneurs. One of the first things we look for in a client is “Will they take advise?” It certainly doesn’t do our reputation any good if they don’t take our advice, or if they “know it all.” Some folks take outside advise “personal.” They somehow think that their approach is being threatened and therefore they are being threatened. Others may think they should know it all since they are the “leader.”

History Teaches Lessons

Neither is true. Experience is based on history in a similar set of circumstances that is relevant to a current challenge. Without the expert advice, you will surely discover the realities and lessons from those circumstances in time anyway. But that’s time and money needlessly spent. But why discover the solutions the hard way when you can save all that time and money and succeed faster with expert advice?

Fake Experts

Just because someone comes up with a new term for an old concept, writes a book on it, hits the speaking circuit, and becomes a so-called “thought leader” doesn’t mean they have real life personal, and painful, experience. Look for the experts who have taken some phaser fire and maybe a photon torpedo or two. Talk to their clients and learn their story.

Succeeding Faster

As mentioned, we are advisors today. We save our clients the pain that we went through. We give them the benefit of our advice. They would likely succeed anyway, but with our help they will succeed faster.

Winning Strategy

It’s not just the game we learned how to play, it’s the strategy behind the game that results in a “win.” That strategy is a nuanced set of priorities and initiatives that can be the recipe for more efficient progress toward the ultimate end game.

The Big Check

Another thing we look for in our clients is their reason for going into business in the first place. We look for clients who are clear about monetizing their brand equity. In other words, clients who realize the end game is selling their business someday. In fact, they are looking for what we call, “The BIG check,” the one their acquirer will write them for their brand equity!

Experience Counts!

Those are the clients we can really help because the way to keep your records and the decisions you make during the growth process can make all the difference in getting your peanut in front of that elephant …and having them take it! Having been through the business journey from inception to monetization with a world-wide business, we have the experience that can get you to where you want to be – faster!

Need Experience on your side? Book a meeting with us now!

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