To get a product manufactured it takes six months. This was a shock to me, but if you’ve never dealt with manufacturing a new product, it is an extremely laborious project that takes upward of six months to complete from start to finish.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marcus Quinn.
Marcus Quinn is the Chief Executive Officer of SUNFlora Inc., an award-winning producer of hemp derived cannabinoid supplements, and its operating subsidiaries, Your CBD Store and SunMed. A career entrepreneur, Quinn has been starting and running companies since the age of 20.
Quinn started his first direct sales organization in 1999 and grew it to become the №1 franchise in the company by 2009 with annual revenues over 3 million dollars and a sales staff in excess of 50 people. The company he built was a top 10 performing business in the company for 10 of the last 11 years he ran it, with consistent annual revenues.
Concurrently, Quinn built a respectable small business and equipment finance company with a 5 million dollars portfolio and ran it for 5 years. Today, he owns a real estate company that holds and manages a portfolio of multi-family apartment buildings located in Alabama and Florida.
Quinn founded SUNFlora in 2018 to develop hemp derived products to market through a network of brick and mortar sales outlets operated by a supported community of independent small business owners. Today, there are more than 550 Your CBD Stores nationwide. The company is on track to have 1,000 locations by end of 2022.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was in middle school. I’ve always worked for myself, and I am the person who was always looking for a side hustle to earn additional income outside of my primary source.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
We had many stressful situations when we launched Your CBD Store. The first situation that comes to mind is the difficulty we had with inventory when we first started. I remember having trouble with receiving products in time to fulfill orders. As soon as we received products, we were immediately distributing them back to fulfill orders because of the explosive growth we experienced. This forced us to think outside of the box to find additional funds to increase our inventory, so we could continue fulfilling large orders. Because of the need to fulfill orders more quickly, we also realized the need for additional education in supply chain and manufacturing, so we took a few crash courses to further our knowledge in these areas. This provided us with the opportunity to bypass third parties and be in total control of turn times.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I’ve always had drive. Good times come after hard times, and when times were difficult, our team would continue to focus on the future and keep building toward our goals. We had a joke that we would laugh about quite often: “One more week.” This was an ongoing laugh with the team because, at the beginning of building the business, it seemed like every week we were talking about how great the business would be in one more week. “We would have the best products…in one more week. We would have new facilities…in one more week.” This helped us see a bright future and pushed us through the hard times.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
We couldn’t be happier in our position today. Even with COVID-19, our profitability has grown year over year, and we believe our outlook on the future of sales and growing our franchise network is extremely positive.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We made a lot of mistakes when we first started Your CBD Store. While not too many of them seemed funny at the time, one thing that I can look back and laugh at now is how we’d try to buy used equipment to save money. In most cases, that never worked. Another example I can think of is a forklift that we purchased off of Craigslist because it was affordable. I don’t think it ever worked for five days straight. Currently, it sits in our warehouse next to our late model forklift that, fortunately, has always worked. When it comes to the necessary equipment, I would highly recommend spending the additional money and purchasing quality equipment that will last.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Your CBD Store stands out because we have the privilege of helping our customers get the most out of their lives, and we get to hear the stories of transformations that people have had because of our award-winning products. Being in the health and wellness sector is an incredible space to be in because you get to help people achieve their goals. As a bonus, we can help our franchisees start a business of their own and assist them with achieving their American dream.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Hire slow, fire fast. The only way to keep pace with a growing business is with a growing staff. The people you surround yourself with are what help you avoid burnout. It’s everyone’s dream to own a business. That said, when building a company, you need to consider its growth when you’re no longer involved in daily tasks. Systems and a hardworking team will allow business owners to achieve this.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My brother-in-law Jason Ellis had the most significant impact on Your CBD Store in its growth stage. He left his job and took a pay cut to help me start the business with the promise of equity in the future. We worked six and sometimes seven days a week for the first 18 months around the clock with only hope and a prayer for the future. He’s an extraordinary guy and now has a great asset in the business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
It has been great to be able to give back to the community. With more than 550 Your CBD Store locations, we always have owners making special contributions and hosting events in their respective communities. At our corporate headquarters, we have given back in many different ways over the last few years, and we cherish being able to give back to those who are not as fortunate.
A few of the larger contributions we’ve contributed to are a 10,000 dollars donation to Veteran’s Group, 25,000 dollars in hurricane relief funding to the Bahamas, and sponsorship of 11 orphan children in Mexico for two years of schooling. This year we are looking forward to helping the same orphanage by installing new air conditioning systems.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- To get a product manufactured it takes six months. This was a shock to me, but if you’ve never dealt with manufacturing a new product, it is an extremely laborious project that takes upward of six months to complete from start to finish.
- Copyrights and Trademarks should be applied for early and often. We had about 20 locations across the country when we realized the name we were using was being used by a competitor, and we couldn’t protect it. We changed the name of Your CBD Store after opening to protect our name and mark.
- Hire people before you think you need them. When revenue increases, you should be looking to increase manpower along with it. You don’t want to hire when it becomes necessary because it is easier to find quality people ahead of the need.
- At the start of your business, outsource your accounting needs. Many entrepreneurs believe they can manage all areas of the business on their own. However, it’s essential to focus on your company’s business component and hire or outsource for clerical task management.
- It’s more than worth it in the end. The hard times never outweigh the rewards of achieving your dream. At times in a startup, you may wonder if it’s all worth it. You may wonder if the investments and sacrifices are going to pay off. While it’s cliché to say, you reap what you sow. If you remember that when you build your business, you will witness great results.
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?
I would love to see a movement in the hemp space that would allow these century-old supplements into more people’s lives to enrich and improve their overall quality of life. I’m so excited about all of the initiatives that we are heading up for clinical research. I believe that hemp products will continue to flourish and be a choice product for customers with various needs.