5 Things That Spell Success for Hemp Entrepreneurs
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Hemp, touted as a “trillion-dollar” crop, is also a ‘blacklisted’ crop. Though that shouldn’t discourage one from entering the hemp industry, the “blacklisting” however changes a lot about what it takes to be a hemp entrepreneur versus an entrepreneur.
Hemp, or more scientifically, Cannabis sativa L., one of the oldest cultivated crops was dealt a losing hand in the form of prohibition in the 1960’s. Despite that, the plant is seeing a resurrection of sorts because of its ability to solve several environmental and social problems while attracting worthwhile economic returns. While some say that it will single-handedly change the rules of businesses like construction materials, textiles medicines, etc., others are apprehensive about it. Eventually, it is the entrepreneur’s grit that will make either of this true.
So, what does it ultimately take to be a successful hemp entrepreneur?
Knowledge of Hemp
The “wonder-crop” has people taking extreme sides and making tall claims. A prudent hemp entrepreneur shall not be fooled by such claims. Open-minded explorations with a strong sense of discernment derived from tactile knowledge should be made. Industrial hemp, after all, is an agricultural crop. Thence it must be studied like one, without prejudice; familiarize oneself with all of its aspects without succumbing to any propaganda. Before entering into a hemp business, entrepreneurs must be well educated about the plant.
Immunity from the Euphoria
An article in a famous magazine in 1938 had claimed that industrial hemp has more than 25,000 documented uses. It is natural for an entrepreneur to want to do it all. For example, just because crude oil can be used to produce fuel, textiles and face creams, petroleum giants such as Indian Oil or Shell do not manufacture and sell textiles. Similarly, a hemp entrepreneur must recognize and find a use case in which lies their domain expertise and develop on it. Do not bite more than you can chew.
Because hemp is one of the oldest cultivated crops, the methods to process it are also traditional and ancient. Therefore, hemp entrepreneurs must reinvent those methods to meet modern day nuances. One must marry traditional methods with modern innovations to generate a USP that could help propel their businesses. As is true with other enterprises, the only way to carry a hemp business beyond the “startup” stage is to have a meaningful innovation that effectively addresses pain points.
Politico-legal and Industrial Lobbying
One of the most important skills a hemp entrepreneur would need is the ability to navigate the politico-legal system. India, at this current point of time does not have a hemp policy, severely handicapping the aspirations of several prospective entrepreneurs. Changing or influencing a hemp policy in their respective territories would require extensive legal as well as industrial lobbying. However, even if there came by a policy to ratify a hemp industry, the operation of a hemp business will be fraught with politico-legal hurdles, emphasizing the need for lobbying skills. Furthermore, entrepreneurs would also be required to indulge in substantial industrial lobbying to create a market for their hemp products.
Supply Chain Management
There are at least three basic components to a commercialization plan – supply, process and market. The prohibition of hemp has negatively affected the availability of raw material and international trade. Because the agricultural best practices are still being re-invented, hemp cultivation is still small-scale. Due to its association with Marijuana, hemp cultivation is subjected to heavy regulations, making the produce and its logistics expensive. Setting up supply and logistics at right economies requires one to establish grass-root relationships with growers and achieve operational excellence in procurement.