A Beginner’s Guide to the Cannabis Industry
Getting started in the cannabis industry can be like working a Level 10 jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces may be easy to put together while others can be stubbornly challenging. Fitting them all together is not for the uninitiated. One of the greatest rewards of my work at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting is helping people sort through and assemble that jumble of pieces into a blueprint for the success they envision for their cannabis businesses.
After seeing first-hand the benefits experienced by family members who were able to access CBD, medically, I became passionate about the cannabis industry and joined Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting soon after.
The cannabis industry attracts seasoned entrepreneurs along with those who’ve never penned a business plan. Each of them – from the COO to the fresh out college grad – will experience a learning curve. It’s my job to lessen the severity of that learning curve.
At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we don’t believe any goal is too far off the map; rather, we show cannabis business owners the way.
Getting it Right from the Get-Go
In our work with cannabis business owners, my colleagues and I get to be connectors – uniting people with solutions. Maybe a builder with a property wants to do a design-build for cultivation but doesn’t know the first thing about building for cannabis. This is a great example of someone who already has significant pieces of the puzzle, but is missing the picture on the box to guide them.
We brainstorm with this client to get their project on a solid footing by helping fill in the rest of the pieces. Plan components like production area and process flow diagrams may lie outside the everyday builder’s vernacular, but are essential components. Additionally, unique surveillance and security system requirements may be challenging to assimilate at first glance.
Whether you’re the manager of a successful retail chain looking to open a dispensary or an Arkansas rice farmer who wants to grow hemp, there are a plethora of regulations and industry-specific overlays to navigate. Trying to shoulder the cost of a do-over or a significant postponement while you scramble to get things right on the second or third try can derail an opportunity.
Your venture’s timeline is critical. We make it our business to help you do things correctly right out of the gate.
Sometimes It’s Who You Know
It’s important to have people to reach out to for the resources you need in order to hit target dates. We recently had a client vying for a license who had quite a few of the required elements on their application but still needed some operators, plus some legal and accounting support. The application deadline was fast approaching.
In this situation, we were able to connect the client to all of the resources they needed to meet those requirements and submit their application before the deadline. At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, our combined years of industry experience has netted a trove of reliable contacts, including thoroughly-vetted individuals and companies who can help fill gaps in expertise, consulting, and personnel.
If we can’t help you directly, chances are we know someone who can. In the future, the person we know with the resources to help someone could be you.
Unexpected Ways to Always Be Prepared
The cannabis industry is not the wild, wild West… anymore. Now, it’s tightly regulated and controlled. You need to learn and internalize the rules that apply in your state. Continue to pay attention as these will inevitably change and evolve. The laws are strict, the red tape is endless, and – to make matters more complicated – some of the more conventional rules of business don’t apply.
Of the many requirements you must meet, having a fancy degree – or any degree – is not one of them. If you’re college-bound and considering a career in cannabis, you might consider horticulture, chemistry, agriculture, or business.
Simultaneously, a lack of a degree is not necessarily a barrier if you come well-prepared with relevant experience. Internships in the cannabis industry can get you that much-needed experience when you’re starting out.
Another unconventional feature of this business is that a prior marijuana arrest and conviction can be an advantage. If you have such a record, your application may be given priority and your application fee reduced per some states’ social equity programs.
When you have a passion for cannabis, learning everything you can about it can seem effortless – but that’s not to say it’s unimportant. Channel your enthusiasm toward whatever excites you the most – from creating the best medicine for patients to craft growing, infusing, or large-scale cultivation.
There’s plenty of room for innovation in the cannabis space, so bring your big ideas. You may have the opportunity to impact the way the cannabis industry takes shape.
Putting it All Together
When you get into the cannabis industry, there are a lot of moving parts. Make sure your business plan contains a backup plan for all the what-ifs. Depending on your entry point and niche, you may be looking at license fees, permitting fees, surety bonds, and liquid asset requirements.
You and your potential partners need to analyze your finances and be clear on what the threshold for your investment should be. If you’re not sure what to expect, consult with experts who have been building cannabis businesses and effecting industry regulations for years.
Be certain when completing an application to be thorough and seize every opportunity to set yourself apart. Treat every question as if it were worth all the points – even if it’s only worth two. Understand the expectations of the application review board and seek out answers anytime something is the least bit unclear.
Pro tip: Get help when you need it. You may be an expert in your craft, but building a cannabis business requires expertise in all matters of building, establishing, and scaling in this unique industry.
The Cannabis Industry in 2020 & Beyond
We at Higher Yields Cannabis consulting foresee bigger, better, and beyond for cannabis as more states come online in some form. More than ever before, creative, powerful, and wildly beneficial ideas have the power to make positive changes financially and in peoples’ quality of life. As acceptance increases, I believe that larger-scale projects can succeed across the globe.
Like so many people in this industry, I come from a different background. I spent the majority of my career in sales at the corporate tobacco giant, Altria Group, Inc. In December 2018, Altria went through a major restructuring after it bought a 35% stake in Juul, the Silicon Valley startup, for $12.8 billion.
As a direct result of the Altria restructure, I found myself pondering what I wanted to do next. When I reached out to Cory Waggoner at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, I was met with personal and professional genuineness. Cory’s business sense and his four-step Higher Enlightenment process resonated with me.
The collective amount of talent and diversity of experience poring into this industry is nothing short of astonishing. Most people, including cannabis veterans, need a second set of eyes from time to time. Others need close mentorship as they enter a fresh landscape to sow new seeds.
As you’re beginning your journey in this exciting new industry, make sure you have the right sherpa. Reach out to us at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting to schedule a consultation.