Tim McGraw | Crain's Silicon Valley

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tim McGraw

Background:  

Canna-Hub specializes in identifying, acquiring and developing lower-cost properties within cannabis zoning, while also working with city officials to authorize zoning changes on the identified property. The company is developing a trade association for the California cannabis industry that is similar to ones launched and overseen in other marijuana-legal and regulated states.

The Mistake:

My mistake was in believing or putting too much weight upon what we thought [lawmakers] would do, as opposed to what they actually did and what actually happened.

As an entrepreneur and real estate developer tied to the cannabis industry, I spend a lot of time lobbying, advocating and educating about the good it does. But five years ago, if I’d heard of all the time and energy the political side and the lobbying would take, and how important it was to my company and my industry, I would have never believed it.

In Illinois, I founded the state’s largest trade association. I would never have guessed that I would spend so much time meeting with legislators, trying to advance our agenda.

The lobbying; the politics part of it – it’s kind of scary, to be honest, especially in Illinois. I’m sure California has some of the same problems, and I’m doing the same thing here in California that I was doing in Illinois, hopefully with the same successful result: Founding a trade association, organizing the operators within our campuses and business parks, and pooling our resources, trying to protect the industry.

I'm very involved politically now, because a single election or a single politician can have such huge impact on any industry, especially on one for cannabis. It’s something a lot of operators underestimate. Keeping track of events is something you have to work at constantly. I didn’t realize it back then, but I certainly remember what to do now.

In Illinois, when I was putting the business together and applying for licenses, we made assumptions based on what would happen with the (then) current governor. Then November comes and goes, and a new governor is elected. In January, he takes office.

Don’t rely too heavily on what you think is going to happen politically. 

The Lesson:

That’s where I found things can change on a dime. One individual can have an aversion to a certain industry.

The mistake I made that we learned from? Don’t rely too heavily on what you think is going to happen politically. You have to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Remember that when you advocate for an industry like cannabis, you have to deal with the politics of it. You’re constantly advocating for the industry, meeting with politicians on the good you’re doing for the industry, the good you’re doing for patients, and the good the industry will do for the economy.

And most operators – especially in an emerging marketplace or newly regulated industry like cannabis – are not going to understand how important the politics are, and how important it is to stay on top of things, and fight for and defend your industry.

 

Pictured is Tim McGraw. | Photo courtesy Canna-Hub.

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