Starting a business is an exciting time, but things can get overwhelming quickly, even for the most seasoned pros. Now add to the mix that cannabis entrepreneurs have extra challenges that others don’t have—from raising capital to setting up the business in the most tax-advantageous way—and it’s easy to understand that you might need a jolt of inspiration from time to time.

Luckily, Hollywood has provided a lot of positive reinforcement if you know where to look. Here are some quotes you might find useful if you feel discouraged:

1. “Follow the money.” —All The President’s Men

Just getting started can sometimes seem overwhelming, so if that happens, follow the money. Focus on your product and what happens to the money coming in. Who has to be paid, how much and when?

At its core, any business revolves around keeping track of money coming in and going out, and yours is no different.

This simple analysis will frequently help you break down a seemingly insurmountable problem into its component parts—each of which is more understandable and less overwhelming.

2. “I started out mopping the floors like you guys.” —Coming to America

You’re entering a new industry, and in that sense, just about everyone is starting from the bottom. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from those around you.

Keep your ears and eyes open, because every day, every transaction and every issue is a learning opportunity—even if it’s how not to do something.

Keep your chin up, too. The start-up phase won’t last forever, and you’ll be stronger for what you’ve been through once you’re past it.

3. “Never tell anyone outside the family what you are thinking.” —The Godfather

External communications are to achieve a goal, and everything about that communication should further that goal. While the goals will vary from communication to communication (negotiate a specific point, form a personal connection etc.), you should avoid extraneous information so that your point is clear and unambiguous.

Business communications are not streams of consciousness, but rather are precisely tailored to their purpose. Always prepare before you communicate with those outside of your team.

4. “It’s not personal; it’s business.” —The Godfather

You can’t let emotion impact how you run your business. Business decisions must be based on data and facts. No matter how much you like or appreciate someone, if they are not a good fit or are not pulling their weight in some way they have to go.

This is not to say you should not act ethically—just the opposite—but a business has to be about the business and nothing else. If a hard-nosed business decision has undesired consequences, then you should (and must) use your personal time and resources to mitigate those undesired outcomes, but remember that they are a personal and not a business obligation.

5. “F-ck you, pay me.” —Goodfellas

Related to the previous point, you are running a for-profit business and people need to pay you. I have seen too many businesses fail because they did not get paid for work they did well.

You have to underwrite your clients and set up systems to be sure you get paid. Get a retainer; get paid up front or get paid as you go, but get paid.

Don’t get caught up in the customer’s story. Your getting paid should not depend on their raising capital or getting a new customer.

6. “Everybody takes a beating sometimes.” —Goodfellas

Truer words were never spoken. No one has an unbroken streak of success.  Rocky Marciano may have retired 48-0, but he still got hit in the head and gut—a lot—and so will you, no matter how successful you are. Don’t give up, and don’t let the setbacks get you down.

The cannabis industry is new and constantly changing, so you may hit stumbling blocks you couldn’t even imagine existing right now. No matter what happens, learn from difficulties and make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. You learn more from getting your teeth kicked in then you do from easy victories.

7. “This is the life we chose.” —The Godfather

No complaining. No one made you do this. Everyone is here because they chose to be. If you are unhappy, go do something else.

Of course, you will have tough days, but you have to take the good with the bad and embrace the whole thing. Realize that the bad days are a distraction, and you want to keep your eyes on the bigger picture.

Now, are you ready come out swinging?

Let’s talk. Send a message or give us a call at (314) 454-9100 to move forward with your business plan.


Mr. Gold is head of AEGIS Chicago office.  He has close to 25 years of experience in structuring and executing transactions on both his own behalf and for a wide variety of primarily middle-market enterprises in healthcare, technology, real estate development, manufacturing and intellectual property.