Trail Blazin’ Productions
“A successful entrepreneur needs unbridled tenacity and a stomach of steel.”
This is my favorite quote. I read it in Inc. Magazine back in 2014, right around when we were starting Trail Blazin’ Productions, our pesticide-free, award-winning LED cannabis farm. It probably caught my eye because my coach in high school was the first person to explain to me what tenacity meant, and how I was full of it. Later in college, completely unrelated, my co-workers called me “Tenacious D.”
There is no doubt that tenacity is a character trait that exists deep in my soul, as it must for ALL successful entrepreneurs.
It wasn’t until the better part of a year with Trail Blazin’ under our belt that I understood the “stomach of steel” part. You see, I thought that cultivating cannabis was a relatively conservative, calculated risk. We knew the Feds were an issue, but public opinion had shifted. We figured that the Feds had always disagreed with medical cannabis, which had been legal in Washington state since 1998, so legalizing adult-use wasn’t that scary of a step.
Boy were we wrong.
The “stomach” part comes from every hurdle, every catastrophe, every mountain that you need to get through that has NOTHING to do with you or your business plan: bans and moratoriums after you’re in business, dabbed-out business people, state traceability revamping, limited and curious retail-to-farmer ratio, lab standardization methodologies, etc. I tell myself that it’s like this with every business, that cannabis isn’t special in this regard. But sometimes, I wonder …
My stomach is constantly in knots.
Being an entrepreneur means digging deep. You must learn to be comfortable in the chaos and keep a level head. You must be solution-oriented at all times, to release your frustration at the right moment and with the right people. You have to figure out how to deal with the toxic stress that inundates your very being every minute of every day.
While I adore that quote, there is one more thing it forgets to mention: you have to have a rock-solid support structure. No one “makes it” alone. Family. Friends. Spouse. Kids. It doesn’t matter where that strength comes from, but you’ll need a support system with whom you are comfortable sharing your true experiences and who will know what little things they can do to help keep you sane. Maybe it’s a walk at lunch. Maybe it is dinner made for you on a random weeknight. Or maybe it’s just listening to you vent. But have no illusions: Along with having tenacity and grit, you’ll need a support structure to get you through the roughest of times.
I look forward to the day in which we look back and say “remember when …”