Our message to young cannabis entrepreneurs
As perhaps one of the UK cannabis industry’s youngest CEO’s at 24, I was keen to share my experiences and advice to young entrepreneurs passionate to make a change and progress the cannabis industry. I have seen a tremendous evolution in the social attitude towards cannabis. I was fortunate enough to have been involved in the grass roots movement and debate taking place at community levels. It warms me now to see this conversation having moved into the mainstream, but with that a great deal of the conversation is overlooked and unseen. I was fortunate enough to have benefitted from having studied the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Colorectal cancer. A degree is by no means prerequisite from cannabis entrepreneurship and as such there are a whole series of opportunities that are accessible to those who have a passion for problem solving.
As the mainstream conversation has developed so too has an industry of the back of it. But with this mainstream coverage, countless opportunities are being overlooked within the space providing a vein of opportunities for a new wave of entrepreneurs. The Cannabis industry is very much alive and active across the rest of the world. There are global problems to be solved. Much of our UK mainstream conversation has revolved around the isolated cannabis molecule Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD being just one of a thousand molecules within cannabis. Success thus far in the cannabis industry can some from just one molecules recognition. There are over a thousand others to be explored and researched. This is just the chemical opportunity of the plant, not to mention its industrial potential. Beyond this too are the businesses opportunities that facilitate the adoption of these cannabis technologies and the expansion of these into the mainstream. The human element to the cannabis industry is commonly overlooked with the focus drawn to the production and retail of CBD products. With this is dare say barely a hundredth of the cannabis industry has been explored or established. Now is the time for innovation and creation and a wave of entrepreneurs who will shape the 21st century. This should give you an idea as to the opportunity on offer within the cannabis industry where the herd mentality seems to have taken over.
Persistence and a long-term view are integral to developing in the cannabis industry, it evolves every day. My recommendations would be to start by understanding the industry. Be persistent, ask questions, understand the people you speaking to and seek meaningful conversations. Understand the perspectives and problems. Let people know who you are and where you want to go. Young entrepreneurs are often dismissed but those groups that see your persistence and passion will see your problem solving potential and likely support you in that venture. Reaching out to people is key, If you are there to help then people will see that and respect that. It is rare that people speak to others with the aim of listening and understanding and your value will soon be seen. As you build your own perspective on the industry you will continue to see gaps and opportunities where your creativity can add value whilst also developing your own offerings.
When I say persistence, I don’t mean frantically knocking on the same doors asking the same questions. Be persistent in your strategy and exploration. Daily discovery should be your mission, whether it be learning about the industry, your network or yourself. Persistence is key, and not something that comes naturally, it has to be developed. Almost like a callus. Passion must underpin this and if you aren’t loving what you do, the knock backs will take their toll. Ultimately, the knock backs are worth it and where you learn the most about yourself. Pushing through the early difficult days and finding your feet and seeing progress are some of the most rewarding moments. When you're the boss, its easy to divert from the path you set out on. This is where some say discipline equals freedom. The perspective you build up during this time will be fundamental to your future and invaluable to those that work with you. A key lesson I have learnt from mentors of mine is to not to obsess over the future and forget about the here and now. I think the saying would be blink and you'll miss it. Life is short. So, above all, find what you love and enjoy it! There's hundreds if not thousands of avenues to explore and a happy medium between work and play to build. Entrepreneurship is exploration, it is meant to be exciting and scary.
There are hard lessons to learn alongside the fun. Not everyone wants to see you succeed. As the old proverb states, "old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill". The reason for this? Age has everything to lose, and youth everything to gain. The aged grasp on power and wealth incrementally slipping away with each passing day. With this you will encounter those who want to pass on their torch to younger generations and those who want to defend and cling on at all costs. My reccomendation would be to quickly identify the latter and distance yourself as there are too many good people out there that do want to see you succeed. At this early stage in the industry I have recognised a large temptation amongst young entrepreneurs to cut corners and stray into the illegal market. For me, entering the Cannabis industry and entrepreneurship is already a risk, doing this in an illegal world only adds to this and may draw you into dangerous circles, perhaps even criminal ones. Starting in any industry comes with its risks, but in this industry, there has never been a better time to take that risk. There are so many opportunities in the emerging legal sectors that there is no need to take the added risk of illegal dealings. It is a matter of communication. With this being said, I am keen to support young entrepreneurs in this area and make our industry aware that we do have a mentorship scheme where we look to nurture these early advances and support young individuals and groups in building their vision. For those that may be interested in this please reach out to us either through email or through our website and mention your interest in our mentorship program where we will support you in developing your ideas into reality. We want to hear your ideas and build a sustainable and futuristic cannabis industry fit for the 21st century. I am keen for this to reach as many young entrepreneurs as possible and build a community that nurtures these projects.
As for you old entrepreneurs it would be fantastic if you could us connect with the young minds that you know and let them know of the support out there and pass on your lessons. If you are a veteran and want to share your valuable knowledge and experience, we would love to hear from you. The cannabis industry has a bright future and with initiatives like this I hope that we can continue to build a collaborative, futuristic and humanistic industry that can unified through science and entrepreneurship.