Do Business Like A Drug Dealer

drug dealers

Did you know that the illegal drug market is a 2.5-trillion dollar industry? That’s right: it’s not a billion dollar industry. It’s a trillion dollar industry.

I know what you are thinking, “Drug dealing is illegal”. Although you are correct, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn a few things from it because it didn’t get to be this big of an industry out of sheer luck.

Download this printable checklist of 7 lessons you can apply to your business from a drug dealer.

Here are 7 things you can learn from a drug dealer:

Don’t take your product for granted

Do you think drug dealers get into war just over location? They also get into fights over product because they all want the best stuff. They know that you’re only as good as your product.

And if you have great product, you won’t have to work too hard to sell it.

So with your business, don’t take your product for granted. Try to create the best product in the market because people will get addicted to it. If you create a shitty product, they may use it for a bit, but sooner or later they’ll dump it once they find something better.

Word of mouth is the best form of marketing

Have you ever seen a drug dealer advertise his or her product through billboards, magazines or television? Of course not! And it’s not just because drug dealers don’t want to get caught selling. It’s because they know that the best form of marketing is word of mouth.

If you have a great product that people love, they’ll talk about it and share it with others. Drug dealers know that having your customers tell other people about your product is the best form of marketing out there.

As a business owner, you’ll want to spend money on advertising. And by all means, you should do so. But don’t forget how your product can help market itself. Nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing!

Freemium models can be very lucrative

Do you think web guys were the first to invent freemium business models? Drug dealers have been using the freemium approach way before the Internet was even born.

They love giving people a small taste for free because once you try the product, they know that you’ll want more. They may even give you a bit more for free after that, but once your addicted, they’ll start to charge you and make a ton of money off of you.

If you are looking to get more customers, consider the freemium approach. Give away a bit for free, and once people want more, charge them for it.

It’s better to be the brain of the company than the face

Would you rather be doing grunt work or would you rather manage people? Smart drug dealers aren’t the ones on the streets who are dealing. They are the brains of the operation. They figure out how to get drugs, to whom to supply them for distribution and how to keep a low-key operation while counting the cash.

They know that if they are the ones on the street dealing, there is a higher chance that they’ll get caught and go to jail. So, instead, they keep their distance from the dealers and just watch the money roll in.

If you want to be rich, you don’t have time to do the grunt work. Instead, you have to delegate and focus on strategy and execution. There are always people who you can hire to do the grunt work, but you have to focus your time and energy on the tougher stuff. It’s much harder to train someone to come up with your overall strategy than to train someone to do the work.

You can always upsell

Have you noticed that drug dealers never stop hustling? They’re always trying to figure out ways to make money off of you. Whether it is selling you a better product or new drugs, they never stop selling.

Just like a drug dealer, you should never stop selling. Just because someone is a customer doesn’t mean they can’t spend more money with you. You can get more money out of your customer base by surveying them to find out what else they want out of your product. Or you can see if they have any other problems in their organization that you may be able to solve and charge for.

Whatever you do, don’t forget about upselling as it can start becoming a huge portion of your income.

Control supply to increase prices

If there are more drugs in the market than buyers, what happens? Price must come down, right? One of the best ways to keep the price of your product up is to control supply.

Drug dealers do this all the time because controlling the supply allows them to force the junkies to pay whatever the dealer wants, just to get a quick fix.

You can do the same thing with your business. For example, when Gmail first came out in the market, they didn’t open it up to everyone. They controlled the supply of their free service so much that people were selling invites on eBay for up to $50. That’s not too bad for a product that’s supposed to be free.

It’s easier to keep your customers happy than it is to get new ones

No matter what industry you are in, it’s always tough to get customers. Even drug dealers struggle, which is why they do whatever it takes to keep their current customers happy. From hooking them up with free drugs every once in a while to hooking them up with free equipment that lets them use the drugs they just bought, drug dealers try to do whatever they can to keep their customers happy.

You shouldn’t just focus on getting new customers. You should also focus on keeping your existing ones happy. If you’re losing customers and have a high churn rate, make sure you fix that before you waste too much money on acquiring new ones. It’s all about maximizing the lifetime value of your customers as that’s where the true value of your business lays.


I hope this blog post didn’t convince you to start dealing drugs because although it is a lucrative business, it’s also an illegal one. Instead, I hope that it taught you how to take your business to the next level. From looking at freemium strategies to working on upsells, there is a ton of room for you to grow your business.

So, what other business lessons can you learn from a drug dealer?


  1. If my mom were to read this post, she is going to ask me to unsubscribe immediately.

    But hey Neil, nice concept there. You bring up the right point here. It is not because of being illegal, drug is a success. Instead, it is because it is a great product.

    • I beg to differ. Drugs are one of the worst products in the world. I know from experience.

      They are not successful because drugs are a great product. They are successful because the best dealers have great acumen, and it’s because of this they would do well in the world of (legal) business. Simple as.

      • They are also addicting too. 🙁

      • Yeps, Gemma, you are probably right that drugs is one of the worst out there.

        But there are also groups of people who thought the opposite and this product is sufficient to target those group of people.

        So, I guess I learn one more thing here commentating – targeted traffic 😉

        • Alan Tay – You definetly did not learn English grammar by commentating. Dumb minority. Use your native language instead of butchering mine. Your grammar is so bad it consumingly distractful and unbearably annoying. Do us all a favor and just shut your dumb ass the fuck up.

          • Sheriff, your native language is dick.

          • Yeah you tell him sherriff, It is very annoying when immigrants don’t do justice to your language and continuously do it with out trying to learn it properly!

          • Sheriff writes: “Your grammar is so bad it consumingly distractful and unbearably annoying.”
            I would not consider Sheriff’s writing skills to be at a level which would credential him as an expert of English grammar and composition.

    • My mom too will ask me to stop reading 🙂 but I’m sure after reading the complete post she will agree on how to do any business like a drug dealer!!

    • You kind of got what I meant. More specially I was trying to point out that you need to create a great product and you will do well. 😉

    • If drugs were legal there would be little profit mark up so the dealers and gangsters would not be interesting in selling it. The illegality of drugs is what makes it worth selling and the smugglers/dealers are great at smuggling and pushing because the rewards are worth it. Legalise it and tax it and there would be less on the streets due to lack of profitability.

      • You may be right Andi.

      • I agree with Andi. Illegal drugs are terrible and should be avoided at all costs but if they are going to be there they should be controlled. I’ve heard that many deaths are caused by overdoes because the user changed dealers (or the dealers changed suppliers) and didn’t know that the new stuff was stronger than the old stuff. So, let the FDA test for consistancy, let the state & fed charge sales tax and let the light shine on the unscrupulous who prey on addicts.

      • Please tell me andi ur mentally retarded? Legalising drugs to stop dealers and pushers? Lol might aswell give ur mum a needle and tie the strap around her arm if its legal, I mean it’s her choice, and how many kids will be puffing ice cause its legal and ruin families? Let me guess ur gonna say they have a choice if they want to, haven’t u heard of curiosity killed the cat or experimenting? Fuck tards like u fuck society u idiot, yeh legalise rape aswell, Don’t think U’ll be smiling when ur mums cunt is torn up by a pack of gangbangers..what u wanna tax that too? What a joke..

        • can you please explain yourself and use real unbiased facts and statistics to back up your positio for continued prohibition/illegalizationn. Do you realize that everything you just said above is either based on an assumption or your opinion. If you want people to agree with and understand policy, the statistics and the success of the drug wars. educate yourself. If you are a literate and rational person, you will see that our approach and the trillions of dollars we have spent has not had absolutely ZERO affect on drug distribution and use. Should we continue to do what has never worked and wayz failed? Is this what you so assurdely as your brilliant solution? Or should we try something new and differnt that atleast has a chance of success. Btw: right now you are the fuckin idiot.

          • Sherriff, you seriously have the worst grammer of anyone that I’ve ever witnessed correcting another person on their Grammer. Just read your reply and then think about what an idiot you are.

        • Daniel, you need to travel a bit more to see the world.

          Everyone not living in Holland is always talking about weed, weed, WEEEEED and Amsterdam, Amsterdam, AMSTERDAM!!!! Like it is some Mecca or the herb or something.

          Get this: It is LEGAL to grow two pots of marijuana per person in Holland.

          NONE of my friends grew any.

          I too, lived in Holland and never bothered to buy anything from the famed coffeshops even once. It was so readily availabe none of us bothered.

          Instead, the only people making a beeline towards those coffeeshops and cafes for their space cakes and magic brownies are those foolish tourists who hasn’t seen much.

          The only places I had had weed and magic brownies, what not, are Canada and the USA.

          Something for you to think about before bashing someone.

      • No, You are right if you legalized the distribution of drugs, And make it the governments responsibility you be removing the foundation of the organized crime syndicate in turn bringing down the violence on the streets drastically! And the legal non – legal stand point is fucked anyway, In major cities like Toronto and Vancouver you can walk down to the corner and pick up crack cocaine just as easy as going to the pharmacy to pick up Tylenol! Which in the end the final result is we just keep packing jails at immense taxpayer expense if you legalized drugs Prisons would be reserved for the true criminal not some guy that gets caught on the corner for selling a twenty rock in turn clogging the legal system for three or six months while he does his bit !

  2. Wow, totally inappropriate. Why not add, “kill competitors” and “also sell underage prostitutes” on the side.

    Some things aren’t really good to make a point.

    • Agreed!

    • Mark Tishenko :

      Why did you even read it? You were curious and you did. That is great marketing!

      Great article Niel.

    • Robert Antwi :

      Grow up. This is totally appropriate, in marketing you learn from other industries and implement into your own business.

      Great post Neil!


      Stand behind what you market
      Always give out the same or better quality
      Focus on retaining customers, clients or patients that will be loyal to you because of the value you offer and not the price.

    • Hey Pace… I was just trying to show what you can learn from drug dealers. By no means am I saying you should break any laws, become one, or do drugs.

      • Lydia Sugarman :


        Considering his track record for screwing people over in business, I wouldn’t worry about anything Pace Lattin has to say.

        • Lydia Sugarman :

          “I have a long and ongoing professional association with Pace. I can honestly say that besides being one of the unique leaders in the online advertising industry, his focus on ethics is borderline obsessive.” – Lydia Sugarman, Private Label Interactive.

    • Wow Pace Lattin is still around spamming and scamming! I thought for sure he would be in jail by now.

  3. Sheyi | :

    Drug dealers connect with the right people in the world who has money for their product. They network with as many people as possible that will help them grow their market.

    As bloggers / ‘treps are expected to attend ‘great’ conferences and spend lil amount of money, drug dealers spend thousands of dollars in order to get good connection by drinking and eating in the best cafes out there..

    errrr i aint a drug dealer just trying to think what they do.


    • People spend thousands as well. I have on dinner multiple times to get the right connections… Wining and dining goes a long way in the business world.

  4. Where do you come up with this ideas? This was a great post. I will try not to ask myself how did you get into that frame of mind.

    It makes total sense.

    Keep up the good work.

    • A lot of times I just walk around Seattle until an idea hits me. Funny enough, I was walking by the drug park in Downtown Seattle when this idea hit me.

  5. Excellent post and great analogy, Niel. I love how the freemium model works, been using for one of my projects and getting pretty good results.

    Thanks for the fantastic post.

  6. Kris @ Detailed Success :

    In internet marketing it’s hard to create products that the customers want as much as drugs. Although people don’t want drugs unless they try them first and get addicted.

    Anyway, great concept. Fun way to look at it.

    Great article!

  7. Awesome topic !
    I am stunned by the way you explained the lessons..
    If one can be able to keep his customers happy then interestingly he might got referred to many business owners. (Word of mouth marketing..)

    Thanks for sharing. keep it 🙂

    • It’s crazy that most people grow through Word of Mouth marketing. But it makes sense… If you think about it, you are more likely to do something that your friends recommend.

  8. Neil, I have been sending these exact same messages to my subscribers for the last 4 years and very rarely get a response. It’s not because they are doing what they should be, it’s because they are lazy, maybe they are all smoking too much dope!

    The people who know they have to spread the word, use effective PR agencies that cost a pretty penny. The competitors look from a distance and wonder why they cant be mentioned like their competitors and it comes down to two things. Cost and laziness. Most small businesses are lazy.

    Great post man, I need more man, I need more, give me more where can I get more of this….


    • I’ll try to write more. I just don’t have enough time in the day to write a new blog post each day. 🙁

  9. Great Concept Neil..I have been hooked to your posts since a friend sent me a link to subscribe, being a novice in Internet marketing and push, your posts as well as that of Yaro Stark have been really helpful…

  10. Neil, I love the analogy. There are several sections of this post that really resonated with me and I am going to (steal it), excuse me, share it with my following. I am at the point in my life where I am ready to delegate, oversee and really become the brains of the business.. I am done with the grunt work. I find that my time as a grunt was necessary though for my development. I will, more than likely, build a better business because I have done all of the jobs within my business. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Itz a mind blowing post sir !!!!
    u r sm1 truly motivating

  12. Now that’s creativity.. !!!
    Amaze Post..!! Neil…
    Great Title backed up by equally great content. !
    One more thing that they do best is.. They keep their enemies (Police – Government etc ) Happy always.
    M Not sure how we can apply this to Business..!

  13. People want drug (heroin) not because they are amazed with the quality of those products but because they are addicted, they can’t quit.

    These businesses or industries are also illegal, which has a completely different modus-operandi than legal business. I think that this post is completely wrong and out of context. I was wondering if Neil has tried drugs before?

    • But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a legal addicting business. A good example of this is Facebook.

      • Omi DiazCooper :

        Great post Neil! Another example of a legal yet addicting business: the TV show Breaking Bad. OK, it’s about a drug dealer, but man, that show is intensely addictive! (Oh and Dexter, too.) Which also supports your point about quality — give people a good, quality experience and they’ll keep coming back.

  14. Since I was into selling drugs in my youth for more years then I like to admit. All 7 tips are right on Neil.

    But the 2 that stand out most is freemium and being the brain.

    Taking this a step further I would add to not just share the freemium but share the freemium with the loudest customers you have,, online they would be your biggest supporters, in drug world it would be the biggest crack head you could find.

    Sharing with selective few, got the word out quicker and kept it more specialized product.

    Now being the brains and not the face is smart online to save you time and work, in drug world it was to do that but also to keep you away from your product. The farther you are the less trouble there is.

    and to add to your drug dealing tips, I would say being first to market or being the only one in the market.

    When you have a new drug as a dealer and you are the ONLY one to have it in your area, the cost can be whatever you like and the demand is high since your the only game in town.

    Online it works the same way,, being first to market is powerful but having something no one else has or is doing is even more powerful.

    • OMG, you were selling Drugs for 7 years ? Did any one caught you during this time, i mean cops ?

    • Thanks for sharing John! I really appreciate you coming forward as there is not better validation than first hand experience.

      Good point on being first the market as well. One of my first businesses, Crazy Egg, did well because we were first to the market.

  15. Good aspect to talk about product promotion.

    I need to make my customers happy as drugs do and my business will grow.

    • It’s all about happy customers. The more you have, the better word of mouth marketing you will get. Plus you will have a better LTV.

  16. Awesome article for sure Neil, what a way to keep current customers happy to get more and more future business.

    Cheers !!

  17. Jason Baudendistel :

    Interesting article and although I am glad my mom didn’t see it lol I love the concept of remembering to be the brains behind the operation.

    • Yea, my mom probably wouldn’t be happy either. But she wouldn’t read the post… more so just judge off of the title of the post.

  18. Jason Van Midde :

    Looks like this post is igniting some controversy in the message section. Maybe that was your objective all along?

    Not sure if you could create a SasS that’s as addictive as the product drug dealers have. Interesting topic though.

    • Not really. My overall objective was to just educate.

      There are addicting SaaS apps. Think of Google Analytics or Dropbox…

  19. “Control supply to increase prices” — @Neilpatel, consider if there are more competitors in the market Don’t they go with them when you control your supply?

  20. Exclusive article !!!! One of the best …

  21. There is a book on this subject, it’s name is “Mafia manager”.

  22. Tapha at MyAppTemplates :

    I always laugh when i read your headlines, its link bait mastery. The content NEVER disappoints though.

    Great stuff.

  23. Neil, I just want to pick your brains for a minute, how did you come up with the business-idea for kiss metrics and crazy egg? I’d love to see a blog post on how you can come up with ideas and apply to them to a market or niche.

    • The ideas came out of solving pains my co-founder and I were experiencing. And over time they evolved based on feedback customers and beta testers were giving us.

      • So I get it, an on-line SAAS business should always try to solve a customer’s pain point. What do you think of this idea? Over a few weeks ago, I came up with an idea for a iPhone application. In essence, it teaches you how to take better photos using your iPhone.

        My other idea was a cash flow forecasting web based application as freelancers and small business owners us excel to do this and it seems to be quite tedious and frustarting. But the only problem is I don’t have any experience and wouldn’t know where to start?

  24. Neil, as always, LOVE everything you produce! You are THE BEST! A terrific post!

    While I’ve never dealt with drug dealers or drugs, I have provided consulting services to needle exchange and drug treatment agencies, the non-profits that work with drug dealers and drug addicts. Here are a couple of my additions of what can be learned from the drug business world:

    (1) Grow your business on the back of somebody else’s business. I.e., piggy-back on somebody else’s business success.

    In this case: the more drugs and people using them, the more opportunities there are to operate drug treatment facilities, get government grants to provide various services, operate needle-exchange agencies, provide consulting services to these agencies (as in my case: grant writing, program planning, writing reports, focus groups, etc). While this may seem like “small potatoes,” don’t be fooled. There are tons of money making opportunities of piggy-packing. And don’t overlook government money opportunities!

    The beauty of it here is also that it is piggy-backing legal business opportunities on somebody else’s illegal business! And the more of that illegal business exists, the more opportunities for your legal business growing on the back of that illegal business!

    In fact, in many such cases, one business actually needs another business! E.g., in this case, the drug business actually needs the whole needle-exchange etc sector as it helps them continue to operate.

    (2) Work with gatekeepers, “opinion leaders,” and community “leaders” in your “community” of customers and prospects.

    In the example here, when the needle-exchange agencies (mostly government funded, by the way) exchange needle for the drug users, most of this is accomplished not so much to the individual drug users, but by dealing with the “gatekeepers” who come over to the needle exchange places to bring used needles and exchange them for clean ones. This offers efficiency and reaching far more people.

    Lots of examples of this in other sectors. E.g., most high-end hair product companies do not pitch just or mainly to individual users. Instead, they pitch to high-end hair salons, who then pitch and sell to their customers (upsell hair products as add-on to haircut services). Or: you can sell big bars of soap etc to individuals, or you can make tiny pieces of soap and sell those in huge quantities to hotels who need those for guest rooms. Or pitch to doctors who then prescribe products to their patients.

    • Thank you Olga,

      Definitely some good ideas, thanks for sharing them with everyone. I appreciate the additional input.

  25. Neil,

    As usual, your insightful (in this case, comical) explanations on business and how to keep it simple, is as valuable as drug dealing. I’m glad i’m not in that game anymore (just joking).

    I know what you’re saying though and I must remember these simple but crucial teachings of yours.

    (It’s funny that when a friend calls me during work hours and asks me, “what’s up or what are you doing”, I say, “Everyday I’m hustling”. lol

    Thanks again,


  26. Online Mastering :

    hahahah i love this one! great way of looking at things. gotta hustle hustle hustle!! and never stop

  27. Pedram Daraeizadeh :

    Sweet comparison, there is always something to be learned from any individual and this is a great example of it. Way to go Neil.

  28. Why did I think that the adiction to drugs is of physiological nature which has nothing to do with adiction to a great quality product or service meeting customers needs. Sorry, but it seems like crtical point of analogy is missing. If you’d use it the article would not work.

  29. Love it! I really appreciate the “big picture” view this blog post captures. Of course you are not saying “go sell drugs.” But, zoom out beyond the emotion/ethics for a second and look instead at the tactics behind the “success,” and apply them to your own (legal) business. Brilliant. It takes a great mind to be able to see the positive in something they don’t necessarily agree with or believe in. It is said that Henry Ford modeled his factory assembly lines after the Chicago slaughterhouses – and many say he was a vegetarian.

    Also, have you been watching too much Breaking Bad? 😉

  30. All your points are absolutely spot on target, Neil. I live in an area that’s been hijacked by immigrant Nigerian and Tanzanian drug dealers who are using all these techniques to devastating effect. Their grip on South African society is growing like a cancer – and they have thousands of young people, the police, the courts, lawyers, politicians and everyone else wrapped around their baby fingers.

    One should never underestimate the power of these business methods – but I don’t know who will save our country. Perhaps you could come over here and educate our idiot politicians as to what they are dealing with. This post really touched a raw nerve.

  31. Hilarious. BTW, I believe you meant losing not loosing.

  32. Owen Donnahoo :

    I totally get this article and I love it! The headline made me look but the content made me stay and read all the way through. Thank you!

  33. Getting it going can be more complicated than people realise, but if you plan thoroughly and honestly- with everything from business registration to advertising to an online marketing strategy- you can avoid a lot of problems later on. In a word, i like the amazing idea of your post, Neil

  34. Jiten Waghela :

    Thanks Neil,

    Really a good post on Word of mouth marketing with such a great LIVE example.
    This inspires me each time to come up with some new ideas for my business to retain my customers.


  35. Hi Neil! Great article and I love the concept how you have explained the great tips from an illegal business.

    Thanks for sharing worthy information!

  36. Thanks Neil, interesting reading.

    Better to be the brain than the face is right. If you want to grow, you need time nd energy to ideate, create and sell. At a senior level, if you’re doing the grunt work, you have no time and energy left to grow.

    Freemium models are attractive to a certain level. Dropbox is in existence because of it. But that model needs to be carefully crafted. The paid version cannot be priced high, because people will not migrate to it, or will give it up.

    When I read it, the first thing that came to mind was “Drugs sell themselves! People don’t have to be cajoled into buying/ trying them. Even if the product is shitty, people will still use it.”

    The analogy of Gmail controlling supply is partially correct, because Gmail was free anyway. If Gmail had been paid, people would not have used it as much. Sure, some people not connected to Gmail made money selling accounts, but Gmail itself, the creator, didn’t make money directly off the service.

    Word of mouth is definitely right. A drugged up guy is going to introduce you to his dealer because he enjoys dealing with the dealer – product, prices, service, whatever.

  37. Interesting post Neil, I think you are right – And no matter what industry (legal or illegal) there is always something we can learn.

    Having read the post, it sounds like a great time time play Notorious BIG’s “Ten crack commandments”.

    • Exactly, glad you got it Steven.

      I hadn’t thought of that, I guess it sort of does sound like that. 😉

  38. First off, that headline pictures is absolutely horrifying.

    “you have to delegate and focus on strategy and execution.”

    I really like this section of the article,about the CEO from the shadows..

    Thanks Niel

  39. Hi Neal – So, you write an article which you thought is going to have an edgy theme and an even edgier subject line, and now you are agreeing that it’s good “moms did not see it”? You thanking Olga for sharing thoughts such as: ” E.g., in this case, the drug business actually needs the whole needle-exchange etc sector as it helps them continue to operate.” – is she saying that the government funded needle-exchange sector helps the drug business to continue to operate? Olga, if you are reading this, are you high right now? PhuongLe likes “the amazing idea of your post, Neil” Ayaz seconds to that with loving “the concept how you have explained the great tips from an illegal business.
    Thanks for sharing worthy information!” Are you oDesking those comments? There were some eyebrow-raiser written ones from Moms, which you follow up on, but…are you worried that this poor allegory about having to be creatively competitive in the consumer society now might be kicking your online reputation in the cojones, Neil?

    You gave a mediocre approach to a matter of vast depth, and now you seem to be learning the lessons. Tell me, did that joint get you creative at first, productive second, and finally paranoid?

    “No no, not sayin to deal…no no no…what I meant…” – simply great stuff, and my Mom agrees 😀

    Thank you for the entertaining post!

    • First off I am no oDesking my comments.

      Second for this blog post a lot of people don’t like the concept of the article. I am trying to keep things neutral because the purpose of the post is to show what you can learn from drug dealers. Not tell people to sell drugs.

      And no, I have never tried any drugs in my life other than ones that doctors have prescribe to me.

      As for the mom comment, my mom would jump to conclusions just by reading the title of the post and would go off at me. But after cooling off and reading the whole post, my mom would be fine. I just know how she is… awesome mom, but she’ll react without reading first. I still love her though. 🙂

  40. emobile_developer :

    Hi Neil…Really thoughtful article. Rightly sometime illegal business could be inspiring if taken positively. Actually all the points best fit to the illegal business but the most considerable thing is its positive effect that can be apply to other businesses. All the things really make sense and lead to get the best fruits from the illegal one. Really it is out of my mind how effectively you gave the positive approach to an illegal business. Appreciate your art of writing and thanks for sharing this brilliant concept.

  41. The only point I would take exception with is one one controlling supply. It might work in the drugs industry, but in most businesses if you control supply too hard, you’ll have somebody coming up with a disruptive technology that wipes your model out. So careful here.

  42. I think this was one of the best concepts i’ve read before.
    Believe you me, i am totally against drugs and dealers, but if we were to adapt to their mindset, we would be the best businessess in the world and not to say the richest as well.

    This just made me realize how miniture my knowledge is about business.
    Thank you Neil for the “eye-opener”
    Great Stuff…. 🙂

  43. :

    There are 2 sides for every coin.

    Let us take the good ones and ignore the bad with all vigor.

    The above points are good for any business and many are practicing the same successfully.

    Awesome post Neil

  44. David - Boundless Opportunities :

    Hey Neil,

    Great post, it gives a very interesting point of view that no matter whether your business is legal or illegal you still have to have a strategy and also you have to work hard.
    It was a very educative read.
    Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you David,

      I was hoping to share some useful tactics out of a negative and illegal business. I am glad you got some from it.

  45. Well Pareto himself said it, 80% business comes from 20% customers, so its not just the drug industry.

  46. @Pace Lattin: “inappropriate” is such a subjective term, so even if it is inappropriate in your view, most people have no problem with it judging by the comments.
    I think you should focus on the lesson here and not get stuck in the analogy.

    @Neil: yeah, totally appropriate analogy and great copy as always. Gratz!

  47. Great post, it gives a very interesting point of view
    It was a very educative read.
    Thanks for sharing

  48. Drugs are bad, this article is great. I think the most important conclusion here is: Make your product addictive.

  49. Jonathan Bird :

    That’s great. I’ve learnt that a) your business needs to solve a problem and b) it needs to do one thing REALLY well (and be addictive). Branding is also important, I just wrote a blog post on it today. Hope you don’t mind me mentioning you in it Neil.

  50. I love how no one has questioned the 2.5 trillion dollar industry figure you use Neil. If this number were in any way accurate it would mean the world drug market is bigger than the economy of the UK or twice the sales of the legal alcohol industry. I think you might be a bit off there. Still an interesting article nevertheless.

    • Hey Ian,

      That’s the figure I got when doing research. If you find something that says others wise let me know.

  51. Joe Williamson :

    Great post. I caught a typo that is an easy fix:

    “For example if you look at Gmail, when it first came out in the market they didn’t open it up to everyone.”

  52. Bird Collision :

    Great post! I would never think of using drug dealing as an example of good business practices. Nicely done!

  53. Amir @ Blue Mile Media :

    This post got a lot of attention! One thing is never putting all your eggs in one basket. Having a back up plan for a rainy day.

    Ex. In American Gangster when they found the couple of hundred thousand under the dog house in the backyard.


    • Thanks for the additional input Amir. That is a good point, it is smart to make sure you have options and are not limited by just one.

  54. One things i found after reading this post is good business pitch also make lots of difference the way people take your product like the title of this post is quite interesting.

  55. Just thought of more related business lessons – from the one and only Al Capone!

    (1) File your taxes and don’t mess around with taxes, as Al Capone’s fate has taught.

    (2) As he said, “Public service is my motto. Ninety percent of the people of Cook County drink and gamble and my offense has been to furnish them with those amusements.”

    (3) And more: “All I ever did was sell beer and whiskey to our best people. All I ever did was to supply a demand that was pretty popular.”

    You sure know how to provoke our thinking, Neil!

  56. Great post – just so much spot on, and indeed many mayou businesses are using all the “drug dealer tecniques”. Which came first? chicken or the egg. We are already seeing how multinationals behave unethically, and stifle their opponents, by example. to dump prices, undercut, buying out competitors, not least pay for illegal insider information. The best advice is “word by mouth” and make sure to have a really good product. As Warren Buffet says, then hÃ¥llbar products the products you wish to sell.

  57. you seems to be have very deep knowledge of drug dealing, are you a old dealer of it LOL just joking 🙂

    really good points! thanks for sharing.

  58. Neil,

    Love this analogy. I have learnt thru my own business (writing software for the restaurant industry) that word of mouth is the best form of marketing, on the back of a great product, and that it is easier to sell to your existing customers than it is to get new ones! Spot on man. Great read.


    • Once you have already sold to someone it is easier to sell to them again, and if you keep them happy then you should also see more business come in though their recommendation.

  59. Does this gives more credit as Google avoids drug related updates

  60. Love this post Neil.

    Eye catching headline, and great points to support it. Nothing like a bit of controversy to grab our attention and ramp up engagement. 🙂

    The system underneath drug dealing is solid, but I imagine it could be even more effective when applied to a business that adds obvious social value. For example, my girlfriend essentially uses this business model to promote her urban farm (she grows organic vegetables on someone’s front yard).

    People walk by and see her gardening someone’s front yard, they stop to stare because it’s neat, she gives them free vegetables of the highest quality, and it inspires people to support her and to follow her lead. She’s got the best quality soil in town, and everyone knows it.

    People will go out of their way to give her work, to give her free stuff, to hire her to do their garden and compost collection.

    She’s done next to nothing to market her activities, but high quality product and word of mouth brings her more opportunity than she can handle. She’s well on her way to hustling organic vegetables like a drug dealer…

    But, as you mentioned, to really make money she needs to delegate the small stuff and become the manager for a large operation. In a couple years I see her at the head of a large urban vegetable empire.

    Great post,

  61. Very impressive post on a contraversial subject 🙂 Two points have impressed me: Word of mouth marketing and freemium model. I am trying to implement them in my own online business. Looking for more to hear on such topics, thank you

  62. But the D.D deals in negative business where there is a lot of limitations can be faced by the dealer and that’s why the general rated business have more potential to grab the desired market and make more money than the drug industry players.

    Thanks for this amazing article where we learned even from the drug dealers who were never a good dealer as shown in our film industry.

  63. Dylan Johnson :

    Always leave them wanting more.

  64. Lawrence Ehilegbu :

    Good post indeed – Neil.
    My Data Management/Computer Lecturer in school in those days would say “go home with the lesson in the idom or proverb and not the idom or proverb per se”.

    The story or lesson about drug is not as important as getting the lesson in it and applying it to grow or sustain our businesses.
    Oil bunkering is illegal people go into it; international passport impostors pay over a 7000USD just to travel on on somebody’s documents; etc.
    The lessons here are too many. Many thanks to Neil.
    Lawrence Ehilegbu, Lagos – Nigeria

  65. Lawrence Ehilegbu :

    For me, I will continue to read more posts from Neil as not too many people can be this articulate, creative and wonderful in bringing out a story from something that people call nothing or have no regard for.

    Can you be closer to your customers after reading this aritcle – the answer is yes.

  66. Arkansas Marketing :

    Awesome article, and every bit of it is on point bud.

    Also what an awesome link bait title 🙂 How could people NOT read this article.

    You are given lessons, within lesson.

  67. Subhro Sengupta :

    Dear Neil, I think many didnt get the point of this article. I got perfectly what you wanted to say. In fact I think you have another very high profile erudite supporter who demonstrated the laws of Economics through drug dealer – Steven Levitt in Freakonomics – and the pattern that you have used for marketing is very commendable, practically applicable and helpful….Thaks for pointing out 🙂

  68. Intuitive! After I read this post, One thing came to mind which is known in many parts of the world currently but growing at an exponential rate. It is called Khat or Chat.

    People Chew its green leaves which they say has some benefits. They say it helps you do work more efficiently. Students claim it helps them study. Anyways it started in the eastern part of our country Ethiopia and it has devoured the whole country.
    It is the number two income source for the country next to cofee.
    The points you mentioned pretty much apply to it too. People use Khat for its value besides it is a kind of addictive. One of the cause of the widespread is also kind of Freemium and word of mouth together. If you are found in the midst of people chewing Khat, they will hand it over to you to try it.

    You guys have no idea how fast it is spreading even in the whole world now and some countries have already banned its use. I think this is worth knowing.

    Thanks Neil I have already subscribed to your list and hope to learn more from you.

  69. Really, I have to be a DRUG DEALER. Mr.Neil, Your Idea are Superb!

  70. There are some similarities with Apple vs Android.

    “Try and create the best product out in the market, because if you can, people will get addicted to it. If you create a shitty product, they may use it for a bit, but sooner or later they’ll dump it once they find something better.”

    Apple creates an addictive ecosystem of well designed products. Android handset makers have spurts of exciting products but the majority of consumers do not get an addiction to the handset. For example, most iPhone owners will buy the next iPhone. A galaxy user could buy a different manufacture’s product next time.

    So make your product addictive like a drug. 🙂

  71. You don’t throw away coconut fruit bcos it’s external shell is too hard. But you just crack it and enjoy its fruit.

    This is a great write up and the relevance of its reference is practically applicable.

    Thanks Neil!

  72. Hi great post I can see what your getting at unlike others, drugs aren’t sold on the net. So you need to sell your product by other means as well and build your customers up and keep them by offering deals. I have a car valeting business which I have started by leaflet drops and advertising and have built customers up that way until my website ranks higher

  73. Cool blog! I like your little bit on supply and demand. I also found it quite interesting that you would use drug dealing as an analogy to running a regular business. A bold move, yet all of your points and info you’re giving are solid. Kudos to you! 🙂

  74. Affordable Website Design :

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  75. Hey Neil, you remind me the film Blow with Johnny Depp (inspired by the real life of George Jung).

    Regarding your tips, nowadays customers satisfation is a must, becuase We’ve already seen what, in the internet era, a single customers can do to destroy your brand

  76. Lmao I love the image… Pure genius. 😉

  77. “It’s better to be the brain of the company than the face”
    I really like this one.

  78. :-)….i couldn’t stop smiling while i was reading your tips about having a business approach of a drug dealer! For sure they are top best regarding selling techniques. Really smart and inspiring approach!

  79. Mirko Ceselkoski at :

    Nice tips…fremium works so well on the net because of the sheer size of the web and ability to mass distribute. I have used fremiums with facebook/adwords as well and it is a real gold mine!

  80. Guillermo Ortiz :

    Interesting post! I think you left out the part where you negative SEO your competitor to take over their turf…..I’m just kidding!

    Learning to delegate has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn growing my company, but you brought up a good point about staying the brain of the operation and staying out of the grunt work.

    • You definitely want to be managing in the long term. That is where most money is made. 🙂

    • how to make sushi :

      “I think you left out the part where you negative SEO your competitor to take over their turf…..I’m just kidding!”

      Hahahhaahahaha was just thinking that.

      some seo actually do this, it sucks though because they are messing with other peoples lively hood

  81. How about.. “Don’t get high on your own supply”

  82. Carolyn Gerin :

    Great post Neil, you had me at hello – the headline forced me to click + read. I was addicted to the call to action. To the dissenters: totally understand why you might find the topic ‘offensive’ but the business logic flowed nicely in an easy to read format, (also Neil is a great writer – which I find addictive). Well done!

  83. Great post Neil. After a long time I read such an amazing post. Shocked when I read the title but stop to read the post as I wanted to know what information or knowledge Neil can provide from an illegal business. And after reading it, I am now totally addicted to your post. There is lot to learn from this blog.
    Thanks for sharing.

  84. Thermodynamics Enthusiast :

    These are great topics covered here.

    I guess being the brains, is great for me as without the brains the face cannot sell or promote.

    Freemium is something I want to implement in my next project and strongly believe you can upset the people having a fixed position in the market.

  85. Hi Neil,
    Drugs is a illegal business but many people have become rich through is against of our law we should not break our law.but this information is good for knowledge.
    Thank you.

  86. Web design company :

    business is like a drug !
    If you are giving your 100% of your effort in your business then you can get your business on sky. 🙂
    Just try to concentrate on your business. You will feel like drug in your business.
    Thank you

  87. hey neil,
    nice concept behind this post. i really liked the way you explained all the strategy to do a business. this is a great idea, rare people can pick positivity from a negative activity.


  88. I really agree with your insight, I think this can apply with the business I’m in as well. But haven’t tested it yet.

  89. Excellent post and great analogy here. It shows that a smart business model can apply to anything.

    “Running” the operation, when it comes to online business, is always better than doing grunt work, and it will get a person further in the long run!

  90. Neil. Great article. Do you think that if a drug dealer who turned away from the drugs could really become a successful legtimate business man or salesman with the training he received on the street?.

  91. Hello!,,,,,,

    Hi!,,,,,,Hi Neil! Great article and I love the concept how you have explained the great tips from an illegal business.

    Thank you so much!,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  92. Here are a few more suggestions: Keep your family and your business separated. You might think it’s a good idea to run your business out of your basement, but it isn’t. Here’s another one: eliminate as much of the competition as possible. Yes, it works. And one last one: Keep your overhead down and resist the temptation to get nicer and nicer stuff the more money you make. You will not get ahead if you pursue a posh lifestyle and you will attract the attention of authorities, whether it’s cops or IRS doesn’t matter, who needs them in your face?/

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  94. Hey Neil !
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  95. Hey Neil,
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