The hemp CBD industry is blazing – no pun intended – but as a hemp industry veteran of sorts, the space is far more competitive than it initially seems. Being in this industry for over 10 years has taught me that many companies and entrepreneurs enter the industry with big ideas and high hopes, only to be forced out before they are able to make a profit and sustain their enterprise.

If you’re thinking of delving in or going “all-in” on the cannabis or CBD industry, I advise keeping these 10 lessons in the back of your mind, some of which I had to learn the hard way.

Lesson 1: You MUST Add Value to the Industry to Stay Relevant

VALUE. Value. Value. I cannot stress this point enough!  You must be creative and add real, tangible value to the industry and to the decision-makers within the industry in order for you to make it long-term. Always look for ways to add value through your product or specialized service (but the quality of your product will speak for itself in the hemp industry).

Your B2B partnerships and your direct customers know a good product when they see and experience it. To differentiate my product in the first couple of years I developed systems to ensure consistency in growing operations. I then transitioned and developed a way to standardize processed hemp extract, which allowed me to produce products with high performance!

But for me it didn’t stop there. To prove the high performance of my product, I’ve been successfully completing clinical studies for years, to have resources on hand when potential business opportunities surface.

Lesson 2: Make Sure Your Professional Background Fits the Part

The hemp industry is tough enough to navigate, so try to come from a professional industry related to consumer goods. Whether it be related to food, drinks, farming, etc., try to get some consumer goods industry under your belt before going all-in on the hemp industry.

Lesson 3: Organize

Organize, organize, organize. Yes, it’s important to be flexible and to adapt to the market as it grows and changes, but it’s equally as important to write down your business plan!

From the beginning of your journey, it’s essential to think of the important questions:

  • What service or product are you going to provide?
  • How are you going to differentiate your product/service from current providers of the same or similar service or product?
  • Who is your ideal target market? How will you provide value to them both digitally and in-person?
  • What will your core values be as you scale?
  • How will you forge vital B2B partnerships?

Lesson 4: Focus on Your Passion for People (not hemp)

The CBD industry is a people industry! If you’re in it for the cannabis or the profits more than you’re in it to service your customers (people) and build valuable relationships with people, you’ll probably have a tough time lasting. As the saying goes, a friend is a sale.
Understand that to WIN and to not only survive but to thrive long-term in this industry will require you putting people first and fostering important relationships along the way. Relationships are everything and solving problems for people are what will position you as a leader.

Lesson 5: It’s OKAY to Say “No”

There are a lot of ideas out there, but you only have 24 hours in a day. When you subtract sleep and time spent with family, that gives you around 8-12 hours that you can dedicate every single day to work and making your dreams a reality.

Saying “no” is as important as saying yes, especially when you become ever conscious of how valuable your time really is! Stay focused on your goal.

Lesson 6: Give Back

Once you are successful, it’s important to give back and support your company, both financially and through a mission that you believe in. Keep in mind that doing so is not only good karma as the saying goes, but will also help you to:

  • Meet and network with more people
  • Build worthy relationships
  • Boost the overall image of your personal and business brand

I’m not just preaching this lesson, I live it and love to give back. My team and I do so through our vision at Puffin Health, where we provide reduced-cost CBD to veterans nationwide.

Lesson 7: You Need a Real Mission (and it shouldn’t be money)

If your mission is to get into the industry, get rich “quick”, sell and live on a fancy yacht then I’d say think twice before taking this hemp adventure. You must have a solid mission, if money is your mission,  then you are lost and likely to burn out early in the game.

Lesson 8: Consistency is the Holy Grail

From customer service experience to manufacturing, all the way to product quality and delivery consistency is everything!

Lesson 9: Innovation Can Help or Kill You

Innovation can either help or kill you. Let me explain. I released a liposomal technology to deliver CBD and CBG at high rates about 7 years too early, and it caused me to struggle in the industry for years… Fast forward to today, nano and high absorption is the rage and our eighth generation delivery is performing well!

Sometimes you have to understand that when it comes to dominating your market and niche, timing is everything, and sometimes out of your control. That said, it’s critical to stay focused on what you can control, no matter the scenario.

Lesson 10: Mitigating Risks is Half the Battle

I know that this lesson is less glamorous than the rest, but it’s a lifesaver. Due to the ever-changing legal landscape in the hemp industry – especially most recently –  one of your ultimate mantras should be “risk mitigation.” Do your best to avoid unnecessary risks, especially when it comes to legality and safety.  Follow the dietary supplement model, you don’t see nanoproducts for most supplements maybe there is a reason for that…it is illegal….don’t think that because you are working with CBD that the rules don’t apply. If you want to be in the food space, act the part.