I had a colourful upbringing and learnt a lot of lessons because of it.
Thinking back on it, he’s quite a fascinating person.
I’ve always been close to him, so although he did lots of things that are illegal, I know the reasons why he did were for good.
Growing up with a dope (marijuana) dealer dad was challenging at times. I could never have friends over, and if somehow they were over, I would lie, lie, lie about the constant flow of people driving up our driveway and knocking on our door.
The good thing was that I got to closely experience life as a dope dealer and gang member (my dad was a member of one of NZ’s largest gangs) and all the things that happened within. Being that close meant you could turn out one of 3 ways.
1. A gang member.
2. A wannabe gangster
3. Total opposite.
Lucky for me, I went the total opposite way and was put off all the gang activities and thug life.
I turned into an entrepreneur (doing, ahem, legal things) and in my 4th year of entrepreneurship, my business has flourished tremendously. Part of it is because I’ve implemented the lessons I learnt from my dad selling dope.
10 Business Lessons I Learnt From My Dope Dealing Dad.
- You have to spend money to make money
This was something my dad told me all the time.He would spend about $250 to $350 on an ounce of marijuana (depending on the quality) and make double the money back in a matter of days. If it was high quality stuff, he could get rid of it all in just one day.Lesson: In business (you know, legal business) you have to invest in yourself and in your business in order to make money. For example, investing in a high end mentor is going to yield you more results than investing in a low end mentor or none at all. Spending money on a laptop or computer is going to help you make more money than you could have without one.
- Always deliver the best quality
In the marijuana industry, there are excellent strains and there are dud strains. The dud strains are generally called “cabbage” and the good ones are referred to as “skunky”.Cabbage got its name from the vegetable because it’s cheap and easy to come by. Skunky got its name from the stench of a skunk. The more potent smelling the better. So naturally, everyone wants the skunky stuff. If a dealer has it, customers will flock there. They are even willing to drive or bike 30 minutes to the nearest dealer with skunky weed even if there’s another dealer closer that has average weed.
Lesson: Always deliver the best quality products or services if you want loyal clients and customers. People are willing to travel further, invest more money and invest more time if what you deliver is of better quality than your competitors.
- Turn on the charm
I would always giggle to myself and roll my eyes whenever I heard my dad talking to one of his customers.He would put on what I called his “nice, be my friend voice”. He could have just finished growling one of us kids, but when someone knocked on the door he could turn the anger off and switch on the charm just like that. He’d make sure that whatever personal issues he was having didn’t affect his business.
Lesson: Don’t let your personal issues de-motivate you from serving your clients with the respect and ‘niceness’ they deserve. No matter what you’re going through, you still have to serve and be there for your clients.
- Nurture your clients
Running a dope shop is done via word of mouth. Obviously.You can’t do any marketing, there’s no such thing as a Facebook page that you can like to get updates on the latest marijuana being sold, or specials that you can advertise, or getting a website up for online orders (unless it’s medical). So you’re only left with word of mouth.
And the only way to do that is to nurture your current clients. Be good to them, be nice to them, if they’re long term clients, let them have a foil (how my dad sold dope, he wrapped them in tin foil) for free every now and then, have conversations to them and listen when they’re telling you life stories, usually whilst sharing a joint.
Lesson: Be there for your clients, send them gifts every now and then, ask them how they are and genuinely want to hear the answer, invite them to hang out with you if possible, for coffee or a glass of wine after an event.
- Have good relationships with suppliers
I met most of my dad’s suppliers. And one thing I can say about all of them is they became really good friends with my dad. He chose suppliers that had good character, were honest and fair. They expected the same from my dad in return. They let my dad ‘tick’ a few ounces and he just had to make sure he paid them back within a reasonable timeframe.They had to deliver good quality product and make sure it was weighed properly, and he had to make sure to pay them on time. I remember going to one of my dads suppliers houses and they chickens running around the property. I really wanted one so the supplier let us take one home as a pet.
Lesson: Pay your team on time and take an interest in them.
- Set boundaries and stick to them
There were times when customers would come knocking at the door at ungodly hours. When that happened, my dad usually ignored them and just waited for them to leave.Sometimes though, a very eager person would start knocking on the bedroom window. And although my dad was generally nice to customers, you had better run Forrest run if you knocked on the bedroom window at 1am. He’d open the door and go off at them. It’s safe to say no one person made that same mistake again.
Lesson: You don’t have to yell at your clients, but make your boundaries clear. Let your clients know that you don’t answer emails on weekends, or you don’t work after 8pm, or that payments are strictly due on the due date or there are consequences. And stick to them.
- Manage money strategically
My dad made a lot of money selling dope. And even though he did, he never showed it off by buying flashy cars, moving us into a lux house and always buying nice things.He was very strategic with it. Part of it was because he was staying under the radar of authorities, but the other part was that he was spending most of the money so us kids could experience more things. Like paying for school trips to Vanuatu, Fiji and the snow, sports and family trips and still have money saved to reinvest into his business.
Lesson: Don’t spend your money frivolously or all at once and always make sure you have money put away to reinvest into your business so it grows even more.
- Do the numbers
My dad was always calculating things. How many ounces he needed to buy, how much money he needed to buy them, how many foils he needed to sell to make the money he spend back plus extra for profit and reinvesting, how much his business expenses were, how much profit he had…Depending on whether the ounces he bought were skunky or just regular (he never bought cabbage), he could get around 30 foils out of an ounce for skunky or 25 for regular. He would sell each foil for $20. Skunky foils would have a little less in them than regular foils because they were better quality.He always knew how much money he was going to bring in and how much needed to go out.
Lesson: Plan the numbers diligently, and then implement your plan so that you’re making the profit you need to make in your business.
- Set yourself apart from competitors
There were many dope dealers that popped up around the place trying to get a slice of the market. But they all went bust soon after beginning, for a couple reasons. They got busted by the po-po. Their business knowledge was poor and people just decided not to go there.The other dope dealers did a few things wrong. They flashed their money around and then they got robbed or someone told on them, they sold cabbage, they ripped people off, they had a higher than thou’ attitude, they smoked their product, they gave too much away for free to friends, they spent their money without saving any for reinvesting into the business and they were mean to clients.
My dad’s business went on for over 20 years, without getting caught (he eventually did and got charged) and without pissing off his clients and the neighborhood around him. He set himself apart by delivering the best service and gaining the trust of everyone that dealt with him.
Lesson: Set yourself apart from your competitors. The best way to do that is to always deliver the best service you possibly can.
- Don’t smoke your own product and don’t give too much away
This one goes without saying, but if you give your products and services away or you use them all up yourself, you’re not going to make any money. My dad stopped smoking weed about 10 years ago. He just sold it. And although he let loyal clients have a free foil every now and then, he didn’t just give them away for the sake of it. It was all part of a strategy.He did let some people ‘tick’ (take it now and pay for it later) foils, but he made sure they paid him back. He had a list of who owed him what and when they were due to pay and he followed up on that list.
Lesson: You’re not a charity. Don’t do a whole heap of pro-bono work or give stuff away to people because you feel sorry for them or because you don’t have the confidence yet to ask for payment. And if you do decide to let people ‘tick’, make sure you follow them up.
There are business lessons all around us.
But I think the most important one is to look after your clients and deliver your best. Without doing that, your clients don’t get the results they want and you start feeling crappy because you’ve delivered sub-par. And that leads to giving up.
Take these lessons from my dad and use them in your own business, I promise you’ll flourish because of them.