Stephen Ryan is the Chief Marketing Officer at Infinite CBD, where he is responsible for researching, planning, outlining, and implementing all of the business marketing ideas and campaigns.
Prior to Infinite CBD, Stephen graduated college with a degree in graphic and web design from the Art Institute of California and began working as a graphic designer within the cannabis industry. While working as a designer he worked with many high profile brands within the industry such as Cheeba Chews, Green Dot, Head of Honey, Kind Love, and many more.
Stephen had no aspirations to become an entrepreneur, but when he saw the creation of Infinite CBD beginning to take hold and the incredible potential it had, he was quick to make sure he secured his position as a founder of the company; contributing all branding, web, and marketing experience to the company. He contributes this decision to many of the positive changes in his life that have happened since the beginning of Infinite CBD.
“Nothing really gave me the drive and motivation to make such massive changes in my life both personally and professionally like being a business owner does. The potential is literally unlimited. Everything from building out fully functional systems to learning how to better communicate with team members have all been quite a rewarding challenge.”
Outside of work, Stephen likes to spend time with his French Bulldog, Charlie, keep active by running, trade stocks, and, of course, lay around doing nothing but binging 6 hours of Netflix in a single sitting.
How did you get started in this business?
My Infinite CBD business partner, John Ramsay was my boss at the time. His idea sparked the creation of Infinite CBD and I joined in to provide design, marketing and the entirety of the starting capital – $200.
There was never really that one moment where we saw something and that triggered the idea for us, it all just sort of happened organically – the pieces fell in front of us and we had the knowledge and drive to put them together in the right order.
How do you make money?
Infinite CBD-generated revenue and stock trading.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Infinite CBD was started with only the money we had in our pockets, we didn’t have any debt to overcome. Technically, we started making a profit almost immediately, but we ended up dumping all that profit back into the company, so we weren’t taking consistent pay from Infinite CBD profits for almost two years. We paid ourselves enough to survive so we could keep investing in the company.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
YES! Constant feelings of doubt. It was suffocating! How could there not be? I went from being a graphic designer right out of college to running a business with 50+ employees in less than 2 years. I never even contemplated becoming an entrepreneur until I already was one.
I still deal with consistent doubt now – it’s just part of the process when you’re constantly pushing to be more innovative and better.
Most ideas are bad ideas and fail. Most projects don’t exceed expectations; and even if they hit expectations at all – how could someone operate without doubt?
How did I handle it? I looked into myself and started improving myself. The only variable that I could control was myself. So, I started going to therapy to identify my mental weaknesses – that was quite the 2-year process. Then I just identified my weaknesses and started working to improve them, one by one. I still work on this every day.
How did you get your first customer?
Infinite CBD had a few customers ready to buy when we launched due to word of mouth. We had our first order before we finished our website.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Emails, emails, and …. more emails. Email marketing is so strong. This has been a major focus of mine at Infinite CBD. I would say if I have any expertise it would be in email marketing. This is the main foundation of my marketing strategies.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Every decision is a tough decision when you are an entrepreneur. You just have to make them and as you continue to decide the decisions get easier to make with experience.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I would say my willingness to sacrifice my time and effort to create a better future for myself and my employees at Infinite CBD.
Also, my willingness to be wrong. I never come to a situation believing that I know it all or cannot be swayed from my opinion. I come to most situations knowing that I am ignorant on some level and am always open and willing to listen to others and learn from their ideas. As a relatively new entrepreneur, I often make the wrong decision and it’s critical that I can look at my decisions objectively and change my mind when needed rather than being hard-headed and sticking with my potentially incorrect gut feeling.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I am constantly searching for improvements, which means I can sometimes have difficulties identifying individual successful moments or moments in which we achieve a milestone. So I don’t have any single moment to recall.
When I think about WHY I am doing this though, other than for myself, I think of all the absolutely life-changing testimonials that we receive from customers. Hearing about how we have positively impacted over 100,000 lives is satisfying enough to keep me moving forward. I would go into them or give an example, but the really good ones – the FDA won’t let us talk about… but trust me, unbelievable stories about bringing people from the brink of giving up and/or death and giving them their life back.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
In the CBD industry, that is somewhat difficult to answer. Depending on regulations and when they get implemented, things can look optimistic at times and not so much at others.
In terms of areas that I can control, I am VERY excited about the future of Infinite CBD. I have many different things that I am stoked about rolling out – some are just 5 – 10-year concepts and others are things that we’re rolling out as early as next month; like our first multi-cannabinoid products.
If I had to choose 1 single thing, it would be the evolution of our manufacturing facility. I have a goal to make this facility completely carbon neutral if even possible, but that’s not what I am most excited about for the facility. I cannot wait to see this facility built out with everything we will need to produce enough products for the entire world. Just remembering that we started by hand filling capsules 1 by 1 with a 10ml syringe, to now producing 1000 capsules per minute completely automated, and starting with only $200 and no investors, will be rewarding enough.
What business books have inspired you?
I lean more towards personal development, but these books help me tremendously with business as well. Both in the ability to be more effective and efficient in my own work, but also to learn the lessons and apply them directly to my business.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz (this is the 1 business book I would recommend)
No Excuses – Brian Tracy
The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
The 1-page marketing plan – Allan Dib
Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins
The ONE Things – Gary Keller
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey
Atomic Habits – James Clear
Influence – Robert Cialdini
There are other books as well that I would recommend, but these are good starting points.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
1. Just get started. The hardest part of climbing the highest mountain is taking the first step.
2. Never stop learning. If you’re not constantly improving, you’re constantly stagnant.
3. Don’t let short term pleasures get in the way of long term goals.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am afraid my plate is too full right now!