Dr. Tim Shu of VETCBD: “Product quality ”

Customer relations — When a customer purchases your product, that’s the start of a relationship. Nurture it by understanding problems and pain points, and addressing them with empathy. Connect with them not as “customers” but as individuals who have unique problems. You have the opportunity to work with them to find the best solution. Our customer support […]

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Customer relations — When a customer purchases your product, that’s the start of a relationship. Nurture it by understanding problems and pain points, and addressing them with empathy. Connect with them not as “customers” but as individuals who have unique problems. You have the opportunity to work with them to find the best solution.

Our customer support team asks for the client’s pet’s name in addition to their name. It’s an important piece of getting to know them as individuals with unique problems that require personal solutions.

As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tim Shu, founder and chief executive officer of VETCBD. Dr. Shu founded the company so pets could safely benefit from the multiple therapeutic uses of cannabis and hemp. By combining his background in veterinary medicine with his expertise in medical cannabis, Dr. Shu formulates cannabis and hemp products that are safe and effective for use in animals.

Dr. Shu’s work on cannabis and pets has garnered international attention and has been featured by media outlets such as The Today Show and CNBC.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve loved animals since I was a child and I’ve always wanted to make life better for them. That led me to becoming a veterinarian, where I practiced in general, emergency, and critical care medicine. As a healthcare provider I would at times feel limited with the treatment options that were available. It isn’t uncommon for medications to cause severe side effects or be as effective as we’d like. I believe as medical professionals we have an ethical and moral obligation to explore all potential therapeutic avenues for our patients. If cannabis offers benefits, then we need to explore that option and provide it for our patients.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I started the company with my life savings and no outside investment. At the time it was a relatively new idea in a yet-to-be established market. I had quit my job as a practicing veterinarian and went full-time into starting the company. There were times the first year that I didn’t know if I was going to have money to pay the bills. A lot of scary times that first year, which turned into a lot of character building. Shortly after I launched the initial product, I started getting feedback about how much it was helping pets, and I knew this was something I had to make happen because there was potential to help so many more animals.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

There were a lot of times when I first started out that I was overly worried or anxious about something, usually something small. Looking back, I have to ask myself, how much unnecessary stress did I cause myself? If things don’t work out, figure out why and improve. One of the worst ways to spend your time is by worrying. Learn to let go.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our purpose. We’re here to improve the lives of animals, and when we get feedback from pet owners about how much our products benefit their pet, it brightens our day so much. I remember when we were first getting started, and I was walking through a shopping center wearing our company shirt. A woman stopped me and asked if I work for the company. After letting her know that I’m the founder, she went on to tell me how much our product was helping her dog. That made my whole month and made the 80 hour weeks feel like a breeze, knowing that my products were helping pets out there feel better.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take time off. If you don’t take time off, the quality of your output will eventually start to decrease. Like a computer that starts to get bogged down, trying to do more will result in sluggish, inefficient performance. Take the time to reboot and start fresh. This will allow overall productivity to be higher. Life should be enjoyed. Take time to enjoy it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are so many dispensary owners I’m grateful to. They took a chance and gave me an opportunity to provide value to their customers. Especially the first year I started out. I had no CPG experience, but I wanted to help improve the lives of pets and they saw that. Some gave me advice, and some simply let me sell my products in their stores. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities they gave me.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

A good company delivers value by providing a solution to a customer’s problem. A great company provides the best available solution to a customer’s problem with superior customer service, while continuously improving those solutions and service.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

1. Be purpose-driven — Being purpose-driven will keep your North Star shining bright and help you weather the storms that will invariably come.

When I started the company I quit my full-time job in practice, put my life savings into starting the company, and devoted every waking moment to getting it up and running. There were times when only weeks of runway were remaining. But my focus of improving the lives of animals has always kept my North Star in sight and my conviction helped me push harder to find innovative solutions for the challenges at hand.

2. Product quality — A potential customer has many options to choose from. If your quality isn’t there you’re not setting yourself up for long term success.

We test our ingredients rigorously and go beyond industry requirements. It’s expensive, it takes extra time, but it aligns with our purpose and our dedication to our customers.

3. Team dynamics — The work environment is where we spend a significant amount of our lives. Provide your employees the tools, environment, and structure needed for not just professional growth, but personal growth as well.

We hire purpose-driven, compassionate, empathetic individuals to add to our team dynamic. We check in with them routinely to guide their progress and make sure they’re on track to achieve the goals and objectives we’ve established together. 360 feedback is implemented so each individual’s voice can be heard.

4. Customer relations — When a customer purchases your product, that’s the start of a relationship. Nurture it by understanding problems and pain points, and addressing them with empathy. Connect with them not as “customers” but as individuals who have unique problems. You have the opportunity to work with them to find the best solution.

Our customer support team asks for the client’s pet’s name in addition to their name. It’s an important piece of getting to know them as individuals with unique problems that require personal solutions.

5. Innovation — Today’s new is tomorrow’s old. Figure out tomorrow’s solutions for today’s problems.

Coming from medicine, we know that the way medicine is practiced today is better than how it was practiced yesterday. And the way it’ll be practiced tomorrow will be better than the way it’s practiced today. The only way to improve and provide better solutions is to innovate. We’re constantly trialing new formulations and products to better understand how cannabis can be used to improve the lives of animals.

6. Giving back — Business should be used as a vehicle for philanthropy. Find ways to give back and support your community.

Our charity program, One Fur One, donates product to charity for each unit sold through our website. Our team members are provided four days a year of Volunteer Time Off so they can spend time improving their community.

7. Be comfortable being uncomfortable — There is no growth through comfort. Embrace the challenges and difficulties that arise. They’re going to happen anyways, so you might as well face them head on.

When you’re working out, if you choose the easiest workout, you’re cheating yourself and setting yourself up to fall short of your goals. The brain is no different in that regard. It needs to be challenged in order to grow.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

We are all members of the collective human experience. All of us are here because of what those who have come before us have built. The best way for us to show our gratitude for the accomplishments that we benefit from is to pay it forward for the generations to come. How you choose to do so is your purpose.

What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Embrace change through innovation. What works today won’t be enough for tomorrow, because tomorrow’s needs are greater. To meet those needs we need to build upon current solutions or create new solutions.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Be adaptable. The one thing we can always count on, is that things will change. If you didn’t have a mentality of operating lean, now’s the time to learn and implement that. If there’s channels you previously haven’t explored because of complacency, now’s the time to understand and utilize them.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Giving back to society. Businesses are in prime positions to improve the world. Not just through product offerings, but what they do outside of the office. Every business should have a plan to support their communities and to provide their employees Volunteer Time Off.

As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

The most successful CEOs do this: start with the customer, and work backwards from there. The user experience, perception, mindset, needs and wants should all be considered.

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

People remember how you make them feel. If they know they’re getting a quality product backed by superior service from a company that is purpose-driven and gives back, they’re going to feel good about supporting your brand.

Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Go above and beyond. Customers have so many options to choose from. They chose you. Show them why they made the right choice by being accessible, responsive, empathetic, and solution-oriented.

What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

It’s crucial to engage with your audience. If you don’t, you’re out of touch, and your customers will see it that way. You’re given the opportunity to connect with individuals from around the world and impact their lives in a positive way. Why wouldn’t you take that on?

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Creating solutions that are looking for problems to solve. People don’t need new problems, they have plenty of them already. Start with those and work back.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To appreciate life more. The universe has given each of us a unique opportunity to experience consciousness, and there’s no limit to the heights we can reach. Let’s make the most of it.

How can our readers further follow you online?

They can visit our website listed at the beginning of this interview, or connect with us on social media, @vetcbd @vetcbdhemp.

Business website:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

Thank you!

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