You can only learn from a mistake after you admit you’ve made it. As soon as you start blaming other people (or the universe itself) you distance yourself from any possible lesson. But if you courageously stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible” the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission to a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding. Wise people admit their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they do.
We pulled together the top 15 mistakes shared by DCN community members that we believe could help you in your journey as a cannabis entrepreneur.
Ilan Freeman, CEO of Hakuna Supply
“Mistakes are a part of business. If a business isn’t making any mistakes, then there is no way they can learn and grow. One of our biggest mistakes was trying to do too much; We launched our CBD line of products, started a pop-up cafe and continued to run our accessories at the same time. Since then we’ve taken the time to review results from sales and impressions from events to make smarter decisions when it comes to ordering supplies and equipment.”
Aline Ferreira, CEO of Cannabraz
“Uuuhh that question got me really excited! This year I fell in many illusions, partners that would end up leaving me, people that offer to help but didn’t actually want to help at all, fake clients, worried investors, people wanting in just to jump out. Well, yes, it lead me to depression because I was tired of all the bullshit. I even lost some real deals because I couldn’t keep up with my inspiration as an entrepreneur. But then I realized that even those illusions and other life difficulties led me to a better place, to a more knowledgeable self, and to new opportunities that would not be materialized unless all the shit had happened. So let’s just be happy with all that has happened.”
Kathryn Awada, CEO of Azara
“To trust but verify. In the beginning, we relied heavily on others to execute important tasks and trusted they were being handled appropriately. Unfortunately, this was costly in the end because things were being done unnecessarily and costing the company in time and money. It only takes a second to review work being done and saves hours and $$$ in the long run.”
Kelly Bruce, CEO of Canna Mommy LLC
“Buying a water truck. It ended up breaking down a week after we bought it: and spent so much labor and money trying to fix it that we could have used for other things.”
A.C. Moon, Inventor of Croptop Greenhouses
“Be prepared for the worst but extremely determined to make it the best! Self-discipline doesn’t come easy, but the passion for your goals and balance can make all things conceivable possible! Every day is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, our business, our goals, everything. It gives us a beautiful blank rolling paper to roll our daily thoughts into … be on the lookout for ways to level up business, passion…but keep Balance! Self-care is number one if we don’t keep ourselves in healthy mental emotional and physical states, we are more likely to fail. Stay dedicated to balance within dream, goals, business, and family. Never be afraid to reinvent yourself.”
Henry Finkelstein, CEO of Cannabis Big Data
“I hired a sales manager prematurely, and it did not set her or our team up for success. The biggest lesson learned internally is that every process needs to be thoroughly vetted and documented before trying to scale. The biggest lesson learned in the market is that we need to add value and contribute to the success of our prospects wholeheartedly and without any expectation of return.”
Derek Kesek, Founder of Hempearth
“Nothing is a mistake, always get an NDA signed, never rush anything including business relationships.”
Bill DeZenzo, Co-Founder of Taxnexus
“No matter how clear and necessary you think your product might be; it will likely take months for the idea to gain traction with the industry and investor folks you are looking to sell. Set realistic timing exceptions of that, be persistent and consistent in your pursuit, and keep meeting development goals along the way. Traction for your business comes more over time than it does from the weight of any one given moment.”
Amy Donohue, Founder of Hybrid Social
“Charge what you are worth. You may just get it!”
Heather Lambert, Co-Owner of Arder Botanicals
“One of my biggest mistakes has definitely been neglecting my own self-care during this whole process. I’m the type of person who will do things in bursts. Inspiration will strike, and I’ll pull 20-hour days with hardly any break until whatever it is I’m doing is finished. Getting something done can seem like a good thing, but the way I go about it is a bad habit I’ve rarely tried to address. A couple failed attempts at getting my shit together in college, and I was resigned to the fact that I just wasn’t a schedule person, and I was better at doing things last minute. I was always on time for everything, wasn’t that the important part?
During the creation of my company, it took me entirely too long to realize playing catch-up, and cutting corners personally because I was exhausted, wasn’t going to work. When you’re an entrepreneur, there are no weekends, no vacations, no holidays. Sure, there are times you might not be doing any physical work, but it’s always going to be on your mind. If you don’t have a good balance to your life starting out, it only gets worse. Bad sleep becomes terrible sleep, eating habits get out of hand, deadlines pile up, you feel guilty, and the vicious cycle continues. I was in the middle of a tear-filled guilt trip when I realized all of it was a choice. I’ve heard it before, but that was the first time I really felt it. All of this was happening because I made lazy choices, or was too hardheaded to realize how much personal choices would affect my ability to succeed as a business owner. Because of my harsh wake-up call, I’ve started paying attention to what my body actually needs, not what I need from it. I’ve acknowledged that I need set hours in order to function. If I’m tired, I sleep. If I’m hungry, I eat; or better yet, if I’m not actually hungry I don’t (ahh stress eating). Most importantly, if I truly need to take a break, I do so without feeling guilty about it. This whole experience has been a crash course in becoming entirely more self-aware. This year has taught me that while building your passion into something great is definitely the goal; it shouldn’t be the only goal. Don’t forget to nurture yourself along the way. ”
Rick M Batenburg III, SVP Investor Relations of Cliintel Capital Management Group
“The second I let my feelings dictate the business is when I start to make mistakes. It’s important to keep on an even keel, knowing that the startup world is an emotional rollercoaster that every entrepreneur rides. ”
Bridget Renee, Marketing Director of KindTyme
“This year we realized we had started hiring too early, without fully understanding the complete role that needed to be filled or how it fits into our company structure as a whole. We realized our team had grown out of necessity, but without any particular plan for scalability. We had to spend a lot of time backtracking into business development that should have happened before we grew that part of our team, and lost a lot of productivity from those new team members while we figured it out.”
Christie Lunsford, CEO of The Hemp Biz Conference
“Not surrounding myself with great people. I gave someone a third chance, and it negatively impacted my business. Fortunately, I planned far enough in advance that I was able to correct the problems this person created and get my project back on track.”
Heidi Groshelle, Partner of Ingrid Marketing
“Choose your partners, your funding sources and your clients wisely. Who you work with or represent impacts your brand.”
Dan Schmink, CEO of Deviant Apex
“I’m OCD for details, so many mistakes become valuable lessons after introspection. With that said, the most fortuitous misstep I’ve made would have to be taking on too many projects in my early entrepreneur years. The crunch from expectations forced me to find more efficient and time conscious avenues to success. Over time I developed my process and procedures I use today to time and predict results.”
Stay tuned for our next article as we get to celebrate milestones and achievements from cannabis entrepreneurs this past year and their advice for new entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
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