From the desk of BigMike
Founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients
Whether you’re new to the cannabis industry or are looking to take your existing cannabis business to the next level…
What I’m about to share with you is essential to creating long-term success in the industry.
As a lifelong grower and cannabis entrepreneur, I’m often asked, “How can I get into the cannabis industry?” and “How can I succeed in cannabis?” — this is especially true on Instagram.
Cannabis is an incredible industry. There are fortunes to be made for those ambitious enough to go after them.
Now, this post is…
- NOT about how to get a job in cannabis
- NOT about how to start a cannabis business (there are plenty of resources available online about how to select what type of cannabis business you want to launch, craft a business plan, register your business, fund it, obtain permits, pay taxes, network, etc.)
- NOT chock-full of business, sales, and marketing tips, tricks, and tactics (I’ll provide a link down below to where you can find information on such strategies)
What I have for you is rooted in foundational principles that have taken me far.
Business tactics change, especially in an industry evolving at breakneck speed like cannabis.
The kind of principles we’re going to discuss, on the other hand, are timeless…
- Know WHY you want to get into the industry.
For some people, the WHY is all about money.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Money’s always been a motivator for me. It definitely was early on.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s — during the dark ages of our industry, when growing and selling cannabis required committing eleven felonies by noon each day — it was about the money and the thrill of the adventure for me.
I thrived on the adrenaline that came with the risks. And with the risks came big money.
As I detail in my upcoming memoir, Marijuana Don, those decades were an all-out roller coaster ride involving guerrilla grow ambushes, pursuits, heists, a kidnapping, white-knuckle smuggling missions, a feud with a violent gang, a federal manhunt, high-stakes cat and mouse with law enforcement, a complex web of fake identities, and…
… a bizarre near-death experience that re-prioritized many of my personal values.
Today, money isn’t as significant of a motivator for me as it was during my first two decades in the cannabis industry.
However, it’s still important to me that I earn enough money to ensure that lack of it never holds me back from anything I want to experience.
And the fact is, the more money a company makes, the more it can contribute and the larger impact it can make.
For example, my cannabis fertilizer company Advanced Nutrients and our non-profit arm Humanity Heroes have donated millions of dollars to help the homeless and impoverished as well as growers in times of need (*see a list of some of the good money has enabled us to accomplish at the bottom of this post.)
Without money, NONE of this would’ve been possible.
For anyone looking to get into cannabis solely for the money, just know there are PLENTY of easier ways to make a living.
Sometimes people see my life on Instagram and assume I must’ve built my wealth by being a cannabis “influencer.”
What they don’t see is the four decades of blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into my career in cannabis.
Whatever influence I have, comes not from posing for photos with a joint in my hand or of fat frosty nuggets on my bud bar.
It comes from my 39 years of growing cannabis and working my ass off to find ways to maximize yield, flavor, and potency.
But here’s the thing…
To me, it doesn’t feel like work!
Building Advanced Nutrients — which involves driving the science of cannabis forward — is downright EXHILARATING.
And that’s because I’m in the cannabis industry for reasons that go FAR beyond just making money.
You see, I have these two giant WHY’s that propel me forward.
- Bring cannabis to its true genetic potential.
- Make cannabis an acceptable and everyday part of healing humanity.
These priorities are also the core missions of Advanced Nutrients.
And there’s no better industry for me because…
I love everything about cannabis. I love growing, researching, sharing, discussing, selling, and consuming it.
I love gazing at crops of big fat, sugary buds.
I love being part of our community, advocating for grower-friendly laws, and helping our industry evolve into what I know it can be.
And I love seeing growers succeed wildly (like Ryan Zuccaro who I’ll tell you about in a moment).
The cannabis industry is a match made in heaven for me because it aligns perfectly with my WHY’s.
The question is…
What are your WHY’s?
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” ― Simon Sinek
2. Take complete ownership for your success.
As with any industry, cannabis attracts its share of people who, for whatever reasons, feel entitled to succeed.
Now, I’m NOT referring to the vast majority of growers or store owners. Our community works damn hard.
I’m referring more to people who see cannabis as a way to make easy money — a way to get rich quick.
They see me and others on Instagram and assume it must be a cinch.
But those of us in the industry know there is nothing easy about making serious money in cannabis (and as the industry gets more crowded, profiting is only going to get harder).
Often when someone asks me about getting into the industry, I discover the person asking me considers their future success to be in other people’s hands (nowhere do I find this type of thinking more than on Instagram).
They’re looking for that big break or that connection that can hand them a flourishing career on a silver platter.
They’ll complain about how no one’s willing to give them an opportunity.
About how they’ve TRIED to get in but just didn’t have the resources, connections, lucky breaks, or whatever it is they believe is holding them back.
This unfortunate mindset gives away ALL their power (and is often the very thing that’s holding them back).
The fact is…
When it comes to opportunities, we make our own. It isn’t for anyone else to “give” us.
Opportunities — up to us.
Connections — up to us.
Getting our foot in the door — up to us.
Succeed in ANY pursuit — All. Up. To. Us.
Fortunately, once our mind is fixed on a target and we begin advancing toward it with swift, purposeful action, opportunities tend to open up.
Valuable connections appear in our path.
Doors open where before there were only walls.
Life, we find, comes to our aid.
Even those situations that appear as obstacles, setbacks, or problems often prove to be lessons we need to learn to become the kind of person we need to be to achieve our goals.
These challenges are tests we must pass to become wiser, stronger, better, and more resilient.
To become the person our goals need us to be.
When we’re not winning, we’re learning.
When we’re not winning, we’re learning.
We’re doing one or the other at all times — winning OR learning.
And learning is an essential part of our journey.
Because to enjoy true lasting success…
We must evolve.
We must understand ourselves and others at a deep level.
We must understand our ego — the most self-limiting factor of all.
We must understand the forces from our childhood that shape our beliefs and threaten our potential.
And we must keep marching forward.
3. Focus on providing VALUE.
Don’t look at the cannabis industry in terms of what you can get from it.
Instead, look at it in terms of what VALUE you can add to it.
How can you add value to the industry, our community, or the lives of cannabis consumers?
If you want a six- or seven-figure income in the industry, then figure out how to add at least that much value to it.
Want to build a thriving cannabis business? Discover a need that isn’t being met and meet it. Find a problem that needs solving and solve it better than anybody else.
I started Advanced Nutrients because there were ZERO nutrients available developed specifically for cannabis, much less designed to bring the plant to its true genetic potential.
The ads for hydroponic nutrients available to growers contained images of roses, tomatoes, and azaleas. But I didn’t grow vegetables or pretty pink flowers.
I grew cannabis.
There wasn’t a single cannabis plant to be found anywhere in their ads, and not as much as one mention of cannabis in all of their literature.
And not one brand had conducted research on cannabis.
Turns out, these fertilizers weren’t even made by growers!
And when I called their customer support numbers and asked about cannabis, they’d yell at me with some version of “Our products are NOT for growing marijuana! Marijuana is illegal!” And they’d hang up on me.
It became clear that, even though these brands advertised in the big industry magazines like High Times and even though the misconception that their products were for cannabis was rampant in our community, the fertilizers they made were for general gardening.
They were NOT designed for cannabis.
So I made my own fertilizers — formulated to meet cannabis’s very specific needs — for my own crops and tested them against the fertilizers on the market.
My nutrients made my cannabis FAR bigger and better than anything else around.
My yields took off.
Potency took off.
And my profits, well, holy shit they took off.
I was consistently able to command $400-$1,000 more per pound than other growers, even though many of them were growing with the exact same genetics.
I shared my fertilizers with fellow growers and they achieved the same results I did. They urged me to sell my nutrients.
There was an obvious need in the marketplace for a line of nutrients designed to bring cannabis to its true genetic potential. There was also the need for a company that didn’t hide behind tomatoes. For one that treated the growers in our community with the respect they deserved.
So in 1999 I launched Advanced Nutrients, the first and only complete growing system for cannabis that Hits the Shift and optimizes all phases of the vegetative and bloom cycles to bring your crops to their true genetic potential.
And I advertised loud and proud that our fertilizers are for cannabis.
The word “disrupt” is thrown around a lot these days. But disrupt is exactly what we did.
Never before did growers have access to nutrients designed to maximize the value of their crops.
Now they did.
And this played a significant role in the increasing quality of the world’s cannabis.
Growers could finally get the absolute most from their genetics.
Soon, I was conducting my experiments with the research departments of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
I recruited two dozen top PhD cannabis scientists. With their help, I made 53 key breakthroughs that revolutionized the way cannabis is cultivated.
I continued optimizing our Advanced Nutrients formulations and meeting the needs of growers (for example, we just launched the Sensi Professional Series, the only water-soluble powder line available anywhere that Hits the Shift, enabling commercial growers to maximize the financial value of their crops).
Advanced Nutrients is as successful as it is because…
I found a way to fulfill the much-neglected need for cannabis-specific nutrients.
By doing this, I’ve been able to add immense value to both cannabis growers and consumers worldwide.
I worked my ass off to build the company. Every time I got knocked down, I got right back up, a little tougher, wiser, and more determined.
Because of this…
Advanced Nutrients became a brand growers rely on in 110+ countries.
We’ve won countless industry awards. For example, we were recently named the Best Cannabis Nutrient Brand 2022 by Grow Diaries.
And our Big Bud® was voted the Best Nutrient 2022 by Spannabis.
From day one, I’ve always made sure Advanced Nutrients provides more value than it receives.
There was no lucky break that made my career, other than…
a) Being alive and well so I can get up every day and follow my purpose.
b) Having Richard Reynolds (aka Peaches) as my high school basketball coach.
4. Realize you’re capable of FAR more than you believe you are.
Peaches taught me that and it’s true for all of us.
And if I’ve ever had a lucky break, it was being on his team.
He drove our entire basketball team into the GROUND. He was BRUTAL. And his workouts were absolute living hell.
But they were also a rite of passage.
What he put us through showed me that I’m capable of so much more than I think I am.
That even when it feels like we can’t go on, there’s a wellspring of strength within us that can be summoned when needed.
We are limited only by our beliefs.
And like I talk about in my Beliefs of a Billion-Dollar Cannabis Entrepreneur post, the beliefs that hold us back the most typically exist deep in our subconscious mind and are rooted way back in our childhood trauma.
Fortunately, if we’re willing to put in the effort, we can uproot many of our limiting beliefs and instill new, empowering ones.
Almost every self-made person I know has done some kind of work to improve their beliefs, whether that’s…
- Reading books on mindset, success, psychology, and philosophy
- EFT tapping
- Psychedelics (:
- Exposure therapy (I’ve known men who were terrified of being rejected by women force themselves to go to the mall and approach the first ten women they found attractive and immediately ask for their phone numbers — they found this practice tremendously beneficial)
- Success coaching
Combine these sorts of personal discovery endeavors with the hard work we do in the trenches to build our business, and we become unstoppable.
The answers are out there (and deep inside us) if we seek them.
Change our beliefs and our entire reality changes.
Now change can feel awkward and uncomfortable.
Sometimes it can be downright nerve-racking.
Most people let fears and self-doubt paralyze them.
However, building the business of one’s dreams requires walking THROUGH those fears.
Courage isn’t having no fears. It’s simply having fears and walking through them. It’s FEELING the fear and doing it anyway.
And while it may seem counterintuitive…
Self-doubt is often a sign that we’re on the right path.
It means we’re bumping up against the confines of our comfort zone — that invisible, self-imposed boundary we must expand if we’re to achieve meaningful goals.
And the fears that every entrepreneur faces are actually stepping stones along the way to the life and business we want most.
We must face those fears and advance THROUGH them.
And when we do, we often find that what we most fear contains the lessons we most need to learn to accomplish our goals.
So much of the game of success is an inner game. Get the inside right and the outside tends to follow.
We can work long, hard hours building our business. But if we don’t have our “head stuff” right, we’ll remain imprisoned by our fears, self-doubt, and limiting beliefs.
Fortunately, we’re all like Andy Dufrense with his rock hammer and can tunnel our way out of that crap. And it doesn’t have to take nineteen years like it took Andy.
We just have to be willing to crawl through a river of shit so we can come out clean on the other side.
And we can start to see results almost immediately. We just need to put in the effort.
Now, it’s true that cannabis is a competitive industry and a lot of people are failing in it right now.
But even with a market saturated with quality cannabis, there’s an abundance of opportunity to succeed.
A lot of people say there’s no money to be made in cultivation any more. And it’s true, margins have slimmed and laws and regulations have made generating profits more challenging than it once was.
But then there are growers like Ryan Zuccaro (whose story you can read HERE).
NorCal was FLOODED with flower. Cannabis is notoriously tough to sell in Northern California during harvest season. And this was the toughest year to date.
However, even though this is the same year countless growers had to throw in the towel, licensed producer Ryan Zuccaro was able to make ENORMOUS profits. See what he did HERE.
At the start of the season he was on the brink of going under like so many others.
However, he did one thing differently.
And that one thing not only made him a substantial amount of money and saved him a ton of time and countless headaches…
… it literally saved his farm.
Sometimes, one simple thing can change EVERYTHING.
But we’ll never find it with a closed mind that tells us solutions don’t exist.
Now, if you want long term success in cannabis, it’s essential to…
5. Be willing and ready to adapt.
There’s no doubt about it, the cannabis industry is evolving. FAST.
And we all know that change is natural and unavoidable.
As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “The only constant in life is change.”
And nowhere is this more true than in the cannabis industry.
For people who kick and scream at change, this is the wrong industry.
But for those of us who keep an open mind and are willing to learn and adapt, an extremely lucrative future in cannabis awaits us.
However, we must be willing to fail.
As with fear, failures and mistakes are mandatory stepping stones to success in any pursuit.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
Success requires accepting the present moment AS IT IS.
No matter how “bad” we think the situation is, we must accept it.
We don’t need to like it, but we do need to accept it.
From there, we can find ways to improve the circumstances.
All we need to do is look for them.
As I’ve quoted before…
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” — Napoleon Hill
Hill’s words have proven true time and again in my life.
Whether you’re considering getting into the cannabis industry or are already in it and you’re looking to plunge deeper…
I have faith that you can accomplish incredible things.
You can absolutely enjoy massive, long-term success in the cannabis industry.
- Truly believe in the healing powers of cannabis
- Know your WHY
- Take complete responsibility for your success
- Fill a need in the market (ideally, better than anyone else)
- Take massive action (even when plagued with fear and self-doubt)
- Add value to the market (the more value you add, the more money you can make)
- Keep an open mind
- Adapt as the industry changes
- Pay your success forward
If this sounds like you, well, shit — I look forward to seeing you at the top.
P.S. A few other posts on the topic of success that you might benefit from are:
- BigMike’s Recommended Reading Book List (these books contain plenty of business, sales, and marketing strategies you can use to build your cannabis company)
- My Five-Part Cannabis Lifestyle Success Formula
- BigMike’s 19 Rules for Life and Business
- The Beliefs of a Billion-Dollar Cannabis Entrepreneur
- My Self-Mutilating Ex-Grow Partner, the Parole Officer From Hell, and Success in the Cannabis Industry
You may also benefit from the Business Outlaws podcast, which I host with my good friend and fellow entrepreneur Chris “Bulldog” Collins.
P.P.S. *Here are a few of the ways money has enabled Advanced Nutrients and our non-profit arm Humanity Heroes to make a difference.…
- When the NorCal Bear Fire ravaged 200+ acres of land in Oroville, we contributed $125,000 in monetary donations as well as $125,000 in nutrients to help growers affected by the fires get back on their feet.
- When the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano destroyed cannabis crops in Saint Vincent, we donated over $100,000 worth of nutrients to help the growers get cultivating again.
- We donated $10,000 to a hydroponics store flooded by Hurricane Ida.
- We’ve been able to help improve the lives of over 60,000 homeless people.
- When COVID struck, we donated 17,000 face masks to homeless shelters across LA.
- Donated nutrients to a charitable program called Archie’s Acres that helps ease the pain and suffering of injured war veterans.
- Gave millions of dollars worth of nutrients to assist the sick, needy, and dying people of the world.
- Constructed classrooms in Uganda.
- Lent seed money to people in developing countries who dream of starting a small business but simply can’t afford to do so.
- Donated heavily to improve cannabis laws
- Built a grow room for CannaMoms, so children who suffer from conditions such as epilepsy and cancer can get the medicine they need.
* Disclaimer: Results vary and BigMike and Advanced Nutrients make no promises of results. Succeeding in life, business, and cannabis takes effort. Just because the growers and store owners who gave us testimonials got incredible results, doesn’t 100% guarantee your experience will be the same. There are many factors that go into the successful cultivation of cannabis as well as running a successful business.