Women-owned BusinessesSheryl Sandberg in her bestseller, Lean In, laments the stubborn persistence of the “glass ceiling” holding women back in corporate America. After years of advancement in women’s access to the top corporate positions, the progress has slowed to a crawl. She raises several important issues, asks some serious questions, and suggests some positive actions.

But there’s one sector of business where the lid has been blown off and it is flooded with successful women! This is the sector of women-owned businesses. Since the Great Recession, women-owned businesses are second only to publicly traded firms in job creation according to the 2013 Report on the State of Women-Owned Businesses.


This was not surprising to us when we coached and engaged over 1000 woman entrepreneurs this week in Syracuse, New York. We were attending the 11th annual WISE Symposium. It stands for Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, and ignite they did! With over 100 booths in the exhibition hall and more than 20 powerful speakers, the symposium lived up to its reputation as a premier event for women’s entrepreneurship.

Speakers and breakout sessions covered the gamut from starting a business to developing a brand story, from financing to company culture, and from growing your business to retaining your customers. Just the presence of so many successful and aspiring entrepreneurial women in one place gave attendees the encouragement, enlightenment and empowerment to help them be successful themselves.

It was inspiring to see so many women with such a sense of excitement, all there to learn how to better run their own companies.

We were honored to be the lunchtime keynote speakers and to share our stories in the  real world of hardship, hustle, and heart. Entrepreneurship is not for the meek. In fact, for most of us, it’s a “get rich slow” scheme fraught with many sacrifices. You give up your “8 to 5” for a “5 to 8.” You give up a salary, benefits, and vacations, sometimes for years, just to get your head above water. You endure less-than-desirable working conditions, impositions on your home life, and loads of stress, all on a budget as thin as dental floss. But the rewards of making the decisions that control our destinies push us to succeed.

Women entrepreneurs are the true heroes of our economy. Since 2007, they have added 175,000 net jobs, versus the national net decline of 569,000 jobs among all privately held firms. Between 1997 and 2013, the number of women-owned businesses grew at 1.5 times the national average. In the process, they have created a multiplier effect that resulted in income for all the businesses they contracted with and all the merchants and services where their employees shopped. Meanwhile their new ideas, products and services continue to improve all our lives.

Especially for the WISE symposium, we developed a series of four, one-hour web conferences tailored to entrepreneurs, and we are offering them to you now as well. Here, you will learn some of the important guiding principles we used, starting in our laundry room, to build the nation’s #1 wine brand, Barefoot. You will gain the benefit of our real world experience and reduce the time and difficulty achieving your success. To learn more, check out www.barefootwinefounders.com/web-conference . We would love to help you become a successful business owner!

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.