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Sustainability is gaining recognition and importance across all industries. In a nutshell, sustainability is the business approach that focuses on long-term value by considering the social, ecological and economical impacts of the practices. With the increase in corporate responsibility and transparency among industries, businesses have started understanding that well-intentioned and focused strategies need to be implemented to stay ahead in this well-versed world.
Being sustainable is not a very difficult task. Starting from small steps, it can be integrated throughout the organization. Every policy including human resources, raw material procurement, waste management, pricing and distribution, marketing and public relations, etc., should be scrutinized one by one and changes should be followed. It is important to make sure that there are no ‘gaps’.
There are two gaps prevalent in the application of sustainable practices:
The knowing-doing gap: Although 90 per cent of the executives acknowledge the importance of sustainability, not more than 25 per cent have sustainability incorporated in the business models, according to a BCG/MIT study. Only awareness isn’t important, acting on it and making a practical difference is essential. Companies may file annual sustainability reports and hold discussions/forums, but the urgency of the situation should be kept in mind.
The compliance-competitive advantage gap: Over 62 per cent of executives believe that a sustainable strategy is required to be competitive in today’s economic world, however only a few act on it. Also, competitive advantage can be gained through making slightest changes and marketing them well. However, the noise should not be made through empty vessels. The sustainable practices should be incorporated among the roots of the business itself.
Sustainability through hemp cultivation
Talking about sustainable practices and raw material procurement, seeds like hemp, buckwheat, chia and flax are extraordinarily sustainable. There are over 50,000 uses from hemp, a restorative and regenerative plant. When producing hemp, the seeds from the plant are used to grow new plants which will produce thousands of new seeds per plant. It takes less than 90 days to grow and harvest a seed and fiber crop.
Medicinal properties prevail
Today, hemp’s medicinal properties are prevailing. The consumption of marijuana for adult or medicinal use is now legal in a growing number of regions. One such region is Colorado, is where hemp-growing entrepreneur Joseph Pham launched his business.
Pham was lucky enough to enjoy a hands-on business education running the family convenience store. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that led him toward a venture of his own.
“I decided to open a restaurant, and as difficult as that was, it taught me several valuable lessons. I found out the hard way that working long hours every day is not an automatic recipe for success,” Pham says. “It also taught me to stay away from businesses that have a ceiling, as in enterprises with limits regarding future expansion. You stand a much greater chance of success if you find a business that is enjoyable and fits your lifestyle.”
The business that Pham found success in was hemp farming. From humble roots, the company has grown to become one of the largest global distributors of hemp flowers.
“The inspiration came from the plant’s medicinal benefits. And the fact that there are 50,000 plus uses for hemp. These range from making rope to using it as a food additive,” says Pham.
“Make no mistake, the culture of the cannabis industry is unique,” he stresses. “But the opportunity to work in a lucrative business that benefits humans and the planet is appealing. It truly is my idea of a business with no ceiling,” he says.
Networks and experts
“Networking is the key,” says Pham. “And I decided to work with industry leaders who were professionals in their field. So I brought together a network of farmers, lab extractors, product manufacturers, and distributors.”
Rather than creating one huge, unwieldy company, every sector remains in its component parts. Each one operates independently but contributes to the overall demand. This methodology gave the business a vast base while allowing it to remain flexible.
Industrial Hemp Farms (IHF) covers every aspect of the booming hemp industry. “Once we established this successful business model, we made strategic partnerships in different regions of the world,” he says enthusiastically.
As a result, numerous affiliates have signed on to distribute IHF’s products, with many partnerships formed worldwide spreading hemp’s benefits.
Like most companies that have expanded to become an industry leader, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In 2015, a lack of resources and equipment saw the failure of an enormous hemp crop.
The crop failure almost spelled disaster for the fledgling company, but IHF rode out the storm. “It was a hard learning curve, but the experience helped us prepare for the upcoming years,” says philosophic Pham.
A growing market
According to research by Cannabis and CBD data compilation specialists the Brightfield Group, 2019 saw the market expand by approximately 700 per cent to turn over $5 billion. Furthermore, based on data predictions and the increase in CBD-infused products, the company believes that by 2023, this figure may rise to around $24 billion. Colorado has collected over $1billion in state tax revenue from the industry.
Discipline and passion
Although maintaining a positive mindset is essential when operating a business, it’s not always easy. Positivity helps to bring motivation and inspiration in day-to-day activities. “Your perspective on things can dictate stress levels. To maintain positivity, I always try to start my day on a positive note,” he advises.
Fulfilling thousands of orders each day and maintaining an overview of their alliances and partnerships can be demanding. “Taking the time to focus your thoughts can create the right vibe. For me, this means I can handle bad situations as they occur.”
As busy as his schedule is, Pham does not see himself retiring anytime soon. “This business, like any other, can be hard work, but for me it’s a lifestyle, so the work is fun. And that makes all the difference,” he concludes.