The American Entrepreneur Is Alive And Well—In Cannabis

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If you read a lot of mainstream media, you probably believe that the American entrepreneur is dead, undone by big-box retail and online behemoths like Amazon, that entrepreneurial energy and innovation have disappeared into a maze of international trade agreements and a haze of opioid addiction and despair. You might think a nation that once prided itself on small business is now nothing but a playground for hedge funds and billionaires to squeeze every last penny out of the working men and women of this country. And while much of that may be true, it’s not the whole story. Not by a long shot. 

 

I consult with small businesses and regional entrepreneurs every day, and I’m here to tell you they’re alive and well. Many are already successful in other businesses but want to get into the weed game. This is a diverse group of people representing all races and classes but have one thing in common: a deep belief that they can do it. Some are new to owning and operating a business but they have skills and motivation. They see themselves as good leaders, maybe better than the ones they report to now. And they’re willing and able to take the risks necessary to make it in the cannabis industry. They don’t want to be MSOs. Not one of them wants global domination. What they do want is to own and operate cannabis companies and contribute to their own community. They want longevity, not exits. 

Interested cannabis entrepreneurs are looking for guidance, but have their own vision and know the impact they wish to have in their town or city. This is the American dream in action and the global cannabis industry is lighting a fire underneath these emerging business leaders. 

I’m excited to discover that my fellow American entrepreneurs are as active and innovative as ever. I have clients all over the country, like a dynamic Black woman entrepreneur in Atlantic City who has been successful in the senior care industry and now wants to own a weed shop. Or, real estate developers in New Jersey who are building a regional, vertically integrated facility in Massachusetts. Another group in Mississippi started by two brothers have had success in other industries and want to bring this medicine to their state. They all want to make money, sure, but they’re just as motivated to be pillars in the community. These are not hedge funds, VCs, consulting firms, or holding companies. These are independent entrepreneurs and they want in. 

This is the kind of entrepreneur I remember from my youth — the woman with the corner store who kept saying how she’s going to open up another shop soon, the deli owner who puts in a new counter knowing his community will fill it. Many of these businesses have been disrupted by globalization but cannabis is awakening this sleeping giant once again. I’m proud that our industry is inspiring millions of businesspeople all over the world to get up, stand up, and make epic moves every day. It’s refreshing to know that small business is not dead in America, just under some stress, and, I hope, finding its footing again. 

From what I’ve seen thus far, I’m optimistic that small businesses will not only compete in the global cannabis industry, but will win a robust portion of the market share. Such an outcome would ensure our industry is living by the values the plant teaches us, and that our ecosystem is both vibrant and fair.

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