Each week we highlight entrepreneur’s in the cannabis industry so our viewers can learn who is behind the team of the upcoming and leading businesses, organizations, and non-profits in the industry.
This week we would like to introduce Jennifer Germano, CEO of ICS Consulting Service. Jennifer Germano has been working in the Colorado Cannabis Industry since 2009.
In the early days of the industry, she started as an intern in a medical marijuana dispensary and worked her way up from the ground floor through every position in medical and recreational marijuana to the level of Director of Operations of a multi-million-dollar Recreational Store in 2014.
Her consulting expertise is firmly rooted in hands-on knowledge and experience in every aspect of the business, including cannabis start-ups, dispensaries, production facilities and cultivation operations. She has managed multiple licensed marijuana facilities over the last six years and understands the hurdles and ever-changing landscape of doing business in the industry.
In 2015 Jenny founded ICS Consulting Service, a consulting firm that specializes in licensed operations compliance, cannabis start-up assistance, employee training, standard operating procedures (SOPs), point of sale software, and facility compliance audits. She has a passion for creating systems and structure. Jenny strives for generating professional business models that will help legitimize the cannabis industry through standards and integrity, including maintaining the highest possible degree of regulatory compliance.
In our interview we asked Jennifer a variety of questions sharing about her experiences, she had some insightful information and advice to share with each of you.
Please share with our viewers, a little about ICS Consulting Service.
Jennifer Germano: ICS Consulting Service (Industry Compliance Solutions) provides compliance support for the Cannabis Industry. We are advocates for employees and owners. Specializing in compliance education, third-party license facility audits, the point of sale solutions, licensed facility operational training, pre-operational licensee services, and standard operating procedures development.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Jennifer Germano: Have a plan, know who your market is. Stay a solo owner as long as you can and do not dilute your company. Follow a well-structured time management plan. Vet who you hire and work with. Failing is okay, it will be a roadmap to success. Don’t give up and dust yourself off and get back on the horse every day.
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Jennifer Germano: Not having any capital to start up. Cold calling, establishing a client base, building referrals and not having any employees. I would say more challenging then hard.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Jennifer Germani: Transitioning from an employee in the industry to being an owner of an ancillary business is my biggest accomplishment, so far. If I knew back then what I am doing now, I would have told you it would be impossible. I am learning everything is possible in my life now, if I work hard enough to get there. Persistence and re-committing to myself paid off. I worked almost every position in a licensed facility operation; from being a receptionist, to working for free while working 2 other jobs, being a bud-tender, a joint roller, trim manager, assistant manager, floating manager, a compliance officer, general manager and director of operations, then as a consultant for 2 consulting firms in Denver.
I finally realized I can do this, I can own and operate my own business. ICS Consulting was born! I then learned the difference between being an employee and being an owner. One always gets paid and the other actually has to do all of the work to eventually get paid. I would say, it took me roughly a year before I felt like an owner of my company. I had to fail my way to get there.
Where am I now? I am in a place of loving what I do. I get excited every day to participate and be engaged in my business and with my clients and their employees. I get to feed my passion by stepping out and learning to do new things in my company. If I had not done any of these things, I would not have realized how capable I am. This is an endless gift.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Jennifer Germano: Yes! I discovered I could do a lot more than I let myself believe I could do. I found myself being able to do so many things, like building my own website, coming up with ways to add value to my business, learning to network, seeing my courage to try and learn new things as to hiring someone else to do it for me. The biggest surprise for me is, that I actually am enjoying working for myself and I am growing in the process.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you made that turned up being one of your biggest learning lessons?
Jennifer Germano: Leaving a well paid job and becoming a business owner. I learned the value of being prepared and having a structured plan in place. I also learned, If I am not happy in my own life, my business is going to reflect the same thing. I have used all of my mistakes as gifts. Honestly there are no mistakes if I can learn and grow from each one. I only become better for myself.
Who is your role model, and why?
Jennifer Germano: Women. I am incredibly blessed to be able to participate in the first female dominated industry. I am just one fish in this sea of inspiring women, and I get to contribute by being the best version of myself and being one of the many “gears” that are required to move this industry forward as a whole.
How do you stay balanced? Any hobbies outside your work?
Jennifer Germano: Going for walks on the Cherry Creek trail or over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge and spending time with myself, staying grounded. Getting some of that Colorado sun is a plus. I am a avid camper in the summer time and love exploring the outdoors and all that Colorado has to offer. I am also about to hit my 1yr anniversary of being a member of Toastmasters International, a speech club I attend on a weekly basis, growing my public speaking and leadership skills.
What book would recommend to a fellow entrepreneur, as a must read?
Jennifer Germano: Great question! I have a great list of books that have helped me, especially in my first year of operation of my start-up.
For the managers out there – I highly recommend this book, it helped me become a better manager! The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Jennifer Germano: My goal is to take the fear out of compliance and insert education and ease in it’s place. I am a huge advocate for employees in the cannabis industry since I come from a dispensary manager background. Cannabis employees are on the front line everyday, however I can create “ease” for them, so they can have healthy experiences in the job place and be the best they can be. When I started back in 2009 working at a dispensary, one of the things missing was education on compliance or just someone to help me understand what all of it means. My first 3 years working in dispensaries were spent in fear of being raided, going to jail and not fully understanding the scope of the laws. Now I want to help employees to not be afraid, champion them through compliance education to be successful.
And how can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Jennifer Germano: For me, it is about being responsible, having compassion, meeting people where they are at, recognizing heart and courage in myself and others, adhering to the rules laid before me, becoming the game changer, implementing structure, and being the best version of me. It always starts with me, and if I can be all of these things, it will spill over and influence others to be their best versions of themselves.
To learn more about ICS Consulting Service, you can learn more at www.ICSconsultingservice.com
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