Hemp = Opportunity
December 18th, 2018

Cannabis Sativa.  Yep.  Same plant that produces marijuana which is pretty much all that people are hearing about these days.  But, all hemp is not equal and therein lies what might be some very interesting opportunities for new businesses.  There are different strains of Cannabis Sativa.  One has a high concentration of THC – the psychoactive component that gives marijuana its kick.  Industrial hemp has a far lower concentration of THC, and has wide variety of uses.

Hemp is probably one of the earliest plants to be cultivated.  Evidence of its cultivation has been found on an island off Japan dating to approximately 8000 BC.  There are many more advantages to industrial hemp than can be listed here, but here are just a few.  One acre of hemp will produce as much fiber as two to three acres of cotton, is stronger and softer than cotton and will not mildew.  On an annual basis one acre of hemp will produce as much paper as two to four acres of trees.  Most types of paper products can be produced from hemp, and while hemp is generally ready for harvesting in about 120 days, trees take a little longer to harvest.  And one more, hemp can be used to create environmentally-friendly substitutes for plastic-based products.

So for someone looking for a new business opportunity industrial hemp might be worth a look.  If you look at everything that industrial hemp can be used for now, with all of today’s new technologies and manufacturing processes, the opportunity is out there.  But one of the absolutely biggest factors that will affect the future of industrial hemp is its inclusion in the new Farm Bill about to be signed into law which makes it legal to grow hemp, which makes it eligible for crop insurance.  That is more than huge.

So if a woman in Brooklyn can make lamps out of mushrooms, what could you do with hemp?

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You started your business with a value proposition – your product or service.  You had something to sell that people bought to either to get a job done more efficiently or cheaply, or to solve a problem, or something that they wanted (but not necessarily needed).  Often at SCORE we see people come in with a product or service already in existence.  But when we start asking questions about who their customers will be, whether they will pay what you are asking in order for you to make a profit, who their competition is and why their customers will switch and buy from you, things sometimes begin to unravel.

It seems almost unnecessary to ask if you really know your customer.  But do you?  How well do you know them?  Are they the same today as they were yesterday when you started?  Is there a new competitor who has entered your market space that you may not have paid attention to yet?  Might they be better, cheaper, or closer in location to your normal customers?  In the world we live in today things can often happen so fast that if you aren’t constantly monitoring your customers and your competition, the business model that you have been using suddenly may not be as valid any more.

The light at the end of the tunnel could be a train.  Don’t let yourself get run over.

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A Startup Idea
December 4th, 2018

How about a can opener?  Someone’s first reaction might be “Can openers are so yesterday!”  But there

The article centered around problems that companies like StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea are having with declining sales of canned tuna.  One reason, among many, is the ever-increasing American focus on convenience.  A can of tuna has to be opened, drained (cats can smell it from the opposite end of the house and can suddenly materialize in the kitchen before the can is half drained), and then utensils and dishes to eat or mix the tuna have to be gathered.  Waaaayyyyyyy too many steps in today’s convenience-oriented world.  The companies are now starting to take various steps to make eating tuna more convenient.

The lesson here is to pay attention to the world around you.  Things are always changing in the economy, sometimes almost imperceptibly, that can create new opportunities for entrepreneurs.  Even in something like your social media feeds you may begin to sense something being mentioned more frequently – positively or negatively.  Maybe there is an opportunity there for a new business.  Maybe you can invent the next can opener. was a recent headline in the Wall Street Journal that said “The Trouble With Tuna: A Lot of Millennials Don’t Even Own a Can Opener.”  My first reaction was a chuckle.  But as I read on in that article a lesson began to dawn on me.  This is not a criticism of Millennials.  It is about change and opportunity, and the Millennial generation is moving into place to lead it. 

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