Having founded Natural Life, one of the first multi-unit of retail stores to specialize in both CBD products as well as other holistic plants, I have learned a few things that could have made getting this now successful business off the ground much easier.
As with founding any company, it’s critical to have very strong foundation with an even stronger company culture, company values, mission and goals. These have to be established before launching the brand and determining its scale. While it seems easy to do, it’s not.
A solid foundation can avoid headaches and/or expenses down the road; and provide the ability to strengthen, fix or rebuild anything to do with company culture, values, mission and goals.
Following are specific points that I would tell my past self when founding Natural Life:
- Consult with your local government before trying to launch a CBD business. Familiarize yourself with federal laws regarding CBD, and understand what licenses and permits you need. Know your state’s laws for launching a business. It’s also critical to learn your financing options ― it is challenging to find financial institutions that will loan money for a CBD business, but it can be done.
- Try, try, try to get written contracts. It may be difficult, but make every effort to get your dealings in writing – and with legal assistance. Unheard of in most other industries, there are fewer contracts and more handshakes in the cannabis industry. In fact, some of the biggest cannabis companies run their entire operations on handshakes and verbal agreements.
- Hire reliable employees who are willing to constantly learn. Lead by example ― rather than being a boss, be a leader. Always help your staff and have their backs, and learn with them as you go. Instead of barking orders, teach skills. Effective and efficient communication, attention to detail, time management, and a positive attitude all lead to success.
- Have a transparent image. Always portray a professional, dependable and clear image so that it’s easier to gain trust or cooperation from partner corporations. Due to the nature of the business, there will be challenges with things from funding, real estate and merchant services. The right image will make all of these easier for you to accomplish.
- Make sure you’re constantly educating everyone around you. This ranges from your staff to your customers to your company partners. Having educated individuals ― who are knowledgeable about your specific operation and your industry, at least ― will be critical to your success. For example, I ensure that all Natural Life staff are certified by the CBD Training Academy, an educational resource offering classes in CBD.
If you differentiate yourself with quality, natural products, you have the potential to be extremely successful! Be sure to double-check and triple-check EVERYTHING when it comes to the legal aspects of the business, financing, insurance, advertising and marketing and more. Seek advice from current CBD business owners and allow them to share their personal experiences.
Although there is much effort that goes into opening a CBD retail business, the benefits of owning a successful one are immeasurable. The industry is booming and continues to grow. According to Green Market Report and Motley Fool, the U.S. CBD market experienced 706% growth in 2019.
Additionally, in 2019, U.S. product sales of CBD were about $5 billion, according to Motley Fool. As for growth, marketwatch.com predicted in February 2020 that the global CBD market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 33.5% during 2021–2026.
With the proper foundation, staff, education and dedication to excellence, you can be part of this ever-growing industry. It’s worth the work.
Gabriel Suarez is the owner and founder of Natural Life, one of the first multi-unit retail stores that specializes in cannabidiol (CBD) products, as well as other holistic plants such as kava, kratom, akuamma and more. A native of South America, he started his career more than 13 years ago. Natural Life is one of the three founding members of The Florida Hemp Council, a nonprofit that works collectively to advance the Florida Hemp industry.