The cannabis industry is absolutely roaring, with interest and investment on the rise each year. The snowball effect of legalization and societal acceptance has made this an appealing environment for new business ventures.
But starting a cannabis business isn’t all flowers and brownies, according to entrepreneurs with experience in the space. What can you do to start your own venture in the world of cannabis and make your green dreams a reality?
Let’s find out with these 8 tips from industry leaders.
1. Find a Unique Angle
There are so many ways to make money in the world of cannabis, and many niches have yet to be tapped. Start by finding the angle that interests you and has profit potential.
“You’ve got more options than you think with a cannabis company, and it goes beyond a brick-and-mortar shop or ecommerce operation. There are opportunities for growers and all the technology associated with that process. Professional training and education are also big ones. Entertainment and experiences are becoming more popular by the minute in states with full legalization. Now is the time to think big and take some chances.” – Sarah Pirrie, Brand Director at Healist Naturals
2. Form Partnerships
Since cannabis is still considered a “gray market” in many regions of the United States, you should focus on forming strong partnerships with trusted suppliers, distributors, and other elements of your overall business picture.
“Make friends early and often in the cannabis industry, because that network will prove invaluable as your business ramps up and you expand into new territory. Ethical practices and clear communication are key in this regard. You want to keep your reputation clean and honest so that when it comes time to level up, you have support from trusted partners who can help you get there.” – Chris Hetherington, Founder and CEO of Peels
3. Connect with Customers
Getting your first customers is a pivotal moment, and should be a priority in order to gain momentum out of the gate. As soon as your business plan is intact, start going after people who will buy your products or services.
“Success in the cannabis industry is uniquely tied to the connection and brand that leadership has with the local cannabis community. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting your cannabis business in Washington, Colorado, or Maine; you should start by building authentic relationships with your local cannabis community.” – Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude Products
4. Build a Memorable Brand
The principles of modern marketing are about attracting customers to your business instead of relying on ads and offers. This begins with a brand that people can instantly remember and identify.
“In the cannabis sector, everyone is throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. There’s a lot of silly branding ideas that lack depth and vision. It’s better to build your brand with a slightly more serious tone and treat it like a real business, because it is. That means having a clear mission, strong marketing materials, and all the components of a brand that you need to make that great first impression. Of course, back it all up with stellar service so that customers keep returning and referring friends” – Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay
5. Education and Support
A huge contingent of people are totally out of the loop on cannabis, and it’s your job to guide them through the process. Be ready to create and share plenty of quality information and help people along the way.
“You need to be a teacher and a guide in the cannabis industry, on top of being a business person. The misconceptions and misunderstandings about cannabis are widespread, and you need to shed light on every aspect of it. Most folks are starting from zero in terms of their knowledge base, so if you can help them learn and have the best possible experience, you’ll be rewarded in the long run for that. Keep this in mind as you create the concept for your company and structure your business model.” – Kyle Kushman, Master Grower at Homegrown Cannabis Co.
6. Remember Business Fundamentals
To a large extent, running a cannabis company is just like any other business, except the products are a bit more novel and out of the ordinary. Don’t forget the fundamentals that make any company run smoothly.
“The one thing that I am focused on is making sure that we always stick to a strategy or doing a few things very well, rather than a whole of the things mediocre,” said Michael Ray, Founder and CEO of Bloom Farms
7. Prepare for Legal Hurdles
Legal trouble is the last thing you need when starting any business, and the stakes are even more serious when cannabis is involved. Learn the rules and play by the rules to stay safe.
“Our recommendation for anyone looking to start a cannabis business is to learn the regional (state or province) cannabis laws and how they apply to recreational and medicinal consumers.” – Karina Karassev, Founder and COO of Stori
8. Put it All Together
Your cannabis business will take a lot of hard work to get off the ground, but stick to the format and apply continued effort to see results.
“My first tip for starting a cannabis business is to focus on quality above all else. At the end of the day, you will retain customers if your product is good. As such, do your diligence and work with only the best raw suppliers who have the proper licenses and qualifications. Second, do your own research. Lots of cannabis suppliers focus on marketing and empty promises above all else, so understand exactly what they are selling you before even engaging in conversation. Third and lastly, understand the competitive landscape. The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself, so know the exact niche you want to attack, and specify how your business will be different.” – Inesa Ponomariovaite, Founder of Nesa’s Hemp
The business of cannabis is here to stay. Will you be one of the industry pioneers in this exciting new space? Keep these tips in mind as you get to work and make big things happen!