untitledUSASBE, The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, is a non-profit organization that provides support for the colleges and universities across the country that are teaching entrepreneurship. They serve as a forum to share best practices, leading edge techniques, and most effective curriculums. There are effectively raising the standards for this relatively new degree.

Unlike other degrees, a degree in Entrepreneurship can’t really be used to land a job or impress anyone. It’s all about self-employment – creating and running your own business. Today there is an explosion of interest in entrepreneurship and in entrepreneurship education.

The advent of USASBE couldn’t have come at a better time and we are avid supporters. Last year we spoke at their annual conference in San Francisco and we were honored to be invited back to their 2014 conference in Ft Worth. During 2013, we traveled the country, speaking at colleges and universities that teach entrepreneurship.  We spoke about how to navigate your business from here to there given the unforeseen and seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead.

In business navigation, like tennis, boxing, or almost any sport, you have to assume the action-ready stance with your knees bent, ready for anything. You don’t know where the ball or the blow will come from, but you do your best to be prepared for it. You make yourself both as stable and as flexible as you can. You also need a few tools like a compass, a hard hat and a flashlight, because you can easily get lost, take a hit, and lose sight of your objective.

Having a set of “Guiding Principles” to hold every decision up against can help you make more right decisions. We attribute our success to those guiding principles which we collectively refer to as “the Barefoot Spirit.” Here is a very brief summary of the top 7:

  1. Empathy. For every major decision, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Understand what they want first. Then figure out how to get what you want by helping them get what they want. This goes for your customers, investors, employees, vendors and especially your community.
  2. Alliances. Who are your strategic allies? Who benefits when you benefit. Look around you and see who’s going in the same direction. What suppliers will sell you more if you sell more? How can you help the community achieve its goals and give them a social reason to by your products?
  3. Mistakes. Instead of blaming others, ask what you can do to make the mistake less likely to happen again. Identify and improve the documents that will prevent them from reoccurring. Maybe it’s a sign, label, check-list, sign-off sheet, policy, procedure, contract clause or a job description, but document it somewhere and fix the problem! Never waste a perfectly good mistake, and give your people permission to make them.
  4. Sharing. Always take a smaller slice of a larger pie. Include those you depend on most in your success. Don’t be put a limit on your sales people’s commission so they can “sand bag” you, leave for a better paying job, and take your customers with them. Don’t be concerned if they make more than you; it’s “found” money.
  5. Two-Divisions. Your company only has two divisions, Sales and Sales Support. Everyone who is not in Sales is in Sales Support. This includes Production, Marketing, Legal, Accounting, and even the Receptionist. Sales advises Marketing, not the other way around.
  6. Performance. If you pay for attendance alone, you will hear, “I was there, pay me.” Give bonuses based on profitability. That way the non-producers can’t afford to stay and the producers can’t afford to quit. Turnover is the #1 hidden cost of doing business. Make sure everyone knows exactly where their salary, bonus, commission, and benefits come from, and that’s the customer!
  7. Partnering. Treat your people like partners. Share the good and bad news with them. Publically acknowledge people for improving your company. Treat your bankers, investors, suppliers and vendors as partners, too. Share your challenges and your accomplishments, and ask them for their help and advice. 

Our talks are beyond the structure, organization, and function of entrepreneurship. They are about the business philosophies and attitudes that can help prepare you for the unexpected and help you navigate your business to success. We are grateful to have the opportunity to promote the Barefoot Spirit to the next generation of entrepreneurs, and give them a big head start.

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 www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.