As the saying goes, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. However, when it comes to the future of cannabis in the U.S., an experienced prognosticator can help predict the next state likely to launch a legal cannabis market or provide insight to help you win an industry license. However, passing a law is just part of the story. We’re here to help you find the facts and identify opportunities.Continue reading
As with most big opportunities, cannabis businesses of every size face risks. A robust cannabis security system mitigates some of those risks while doing more than meets your security camera’s eye. A holistic approach will help protect your business against losses that affect your bottom line and attract negative attention from the press, regulatory agencies, and law enforcement. Learn what a successful security plan entails and how an ounce of loss prevention can be worth many times its weight in cannabis security.Continue reading
How to Get Started in a Legal Cannabis Business
More than half the states in the U.S. have already legalized marijuana in some form. Most of these states have started by legalizing medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions, while some states also have programs for recreational cannabis.
The cannabis industry is expected to grow into a $21 billion market by 2021. With business booming and the potential for high return on investment, there’s much interest in starting a legal cannabis business. However, because of the complex cannabis laws and regulations that vary by state, it’s easy to get lost and confused by all the requirements it takes to participate in this multi-billion industry.
Before you start your marijuana business and even consider beginning the application process, you should study your state’s specific marijuana programs, laws, and regulations. Because the legal cannabis industry is relatively young and highly regulated, starting a marijuana business won’t be like launching a regular business.
In this guide, we will briefly discuss the cannabis industry’s history, the unique requirements of becoming a cannabis entrepreneur, and marijuana business ideas. We will also talk about how you can improve your chances of getting a license.
Brief History of the Cannabis Industry in the U.S
Cannabis prohibition dates back to 1937 when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed. The Act levied a tax on anyone who dealt in marijuana, cannabis, or hemp. Just a year later, hemp was declared as the “New Billion Dollar Crop” because of its 25,000+ potential uses. And by 1942, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army urged farmers to grow hemp. And though the Marihuana Tax Act was rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1969, cannabis was classified under Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.
It would be decades before the journey toward legalization of marijuana would begin. In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, legalizing the medical use of marijuana in the state. Arizona, Alaska, District of Columbia, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada legalized medical marijuana and developed their own medical marijuana programs over the next four years.
More states would follow suit over the next few decades, with some states legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. In 2018, the passing of the Farm Bill or the Agriculture Improvement Act into law legalized hemp and ended federal prohibition of hemp and hemp-derived products. .
Business Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry
The booming cannabis marketplace means a variety of business opportunities for entrepreneurs looking for their slice of the multi-billion-dollar pie. Because of the many types of cannabis businesses, getting started requires a decision on which area of the sector to focus on. While cannabis businesses now come in all shapes and sizes, the following are the most common marijuana businesses:
Dispensary – Marijuana dispensaries are also referred to as retail stores. They are the physical stores where consumers can buy cannabis products. This type of cannabis business is ideal for the entrepreneur who enjoys contact with the customers. Depending on your state, this could be a recreational or medical marijuana dispensary.
Cultivation Facility – Marijuana cultivation businesses are also known as grow facilities. Depending on the state regulations, marijuana may be grown indoors or outdoors. Cannabis cultivators are typically located in remote areas because of the space requirement. To maintain quality, cultivation businesses have facilities that are climate-controlled, well-ventilated, and have advanced irrigation systems. They are also expected to be highly secured.
Extraction Lab – Extraction labs have advanced extraction systems and extraction technicians that use processes to extract pure compounds from the cannabis plant. These potent extracts are what you will find in commercial products, such as oils, tinctures, and concentrates.
Manufacturer – Marijuana products can be consumed in a multitude of ways. Manufacturers process the cannabis plant to produce a variety of products, such as edibles and concentrates.
Transportation Services – Marijuana transporters get marijuana from point A to point B, safely and legally. Because marijuana is highly regulated, traditional courier services are out of the question. Only licensed marijuana transportation services are allowed to move raw marijuana materials and goods. This type of business will typically require armored vehicles and trained and armed drivers to ensure goods are delivered without incident.
Investing in Cannabis
Starting your own cannabis business operation isn’t the only way to get your start in the marijuana industry. Many people decide that investing in cannabis stocks is a good way for them to understand the industry before fully committing to business ownership. This approach will require market research into the performance of existing cannabis operations and an understanding of industry trends. Educate yourself and stay up-to-date on the latest cannabis business news and the ever-changing rules and regulations of the cannabis industry.
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Licensed
The highly regulated nature of the cannabis industry makes getting a license for your business to operate legally challenging. And since most license applications are evaluated using a scoring methodology to rank them based on quality, competition is fierce. However, the application process for licensing is complex and rigorous for a reason; it’s to weed out those who do not have a potentially successful business strategy and the ability to operate a legal cannabis business properly.
Completing a marijuana license application is not a one-man job. It requires the expertise and insight of various cannabis professionals – ranging from operations to tax accounting and compliance with cannabis regulations. Some basic requirements the application process include are a well-developed business plan, detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs), and proof of strong financials. Before you begin the application process, you will also need to secure cannabis-friendly real estate that complies with all the zoning laws of your state. You will also need to craft a blueprint of your cannabis business facility, ensuring that it abides by all the compliance laws of your state.
Because of all the requirements, documents, and specialized skills needed to complete a license application, it would be wise to leverage the expertise of a cannabis consulting agency. Cannabis consultancies have teams of experts who specialize in each area of the cannabis industry – from licensing to accounting to compliance to facility design to branding. With years of experience in marijuana licensing and permitting, professional application writers will help you complete each section of the application properly by using an efficient process that saves you time and money.
Realistically, you may only have one shot to secure a cannabis license. Most states have a limited number of marijuana business licenses to award. Once an application window closes, another one won’t likely open unless the state determines that the existing marijuana businesses cannot meet consumer demand. Because cannabis licensing is highly competitive, an experienced cannabis business consulting company will ensure you are equipped with everything you need to make your application stand out.
Before you build your business, you need to understand the complexities of obtaining business licenses in the marijuana industry. Because the industry is highly competitive, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law, your best chance at becoming successful is to leverage the expertise of cannabis professionals who can increase your chances of getting licensed while ensuring you remain compliant with the law.
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As people began discovering gold at the end of the cannabis rainbow, some communities were missing out on the bonanza. Notably, people of color, those with prior marijuana convictions, and members of communities hardest-hit by the war on drugs were running into barriers to entry into the profitable cannabis industry. To maximize your potential for success in the cannabis market, learn about social equity programs in your state or city. Here are some common themes to be aware of, along with figures that illustrate the power of including previously underrepresented individuals in this booming industry.Continue reading
Why Work with Cannabis Consultants to Help Get Your License?
Because marijuana legalization is on the rise, with more than half the states in the United States legalizing cannabis in some form, it would appear that starting a marijuana business is easier than ever. However, because the cannabis industry is predicted to become a multi-billion industry that promises many business opportunities, competition has become increasingly fierce. Also, not all state marijuana programs are created equal; each will have its own regulatory compliance requirements, regulations for cannabis retailers and cannabis manufacturers, and application processes.
Cannabis laws and regulations vary from state to state. Some states have a limited number of licenses to award. Because the state cannabis program regulators and license evaluators expect to get hundreds, if not thousands, of applications when they open application windows, they will use a scoring methodology to rank applicants. Therefore, licenses will be awarded to applicants based on merit. In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of working with cannabis consulting firms and how they can help you get a cannabis license.
Complete All the Application Requirements on Time
Because cannabis applications are massive documents, it typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete the application, on average. While the exact requirements for cannabis licensing and permitting will vary from state to state, most applications will require a business plan, standard operating procedures (SOPs), strong financials, cannabis-friendly real estate, and background checks.
All these requirements take time and money to complete. The business plan alone needs to be a well-crafted document that demonstrates your ability to operate a cannabis business that is profitable and achieve cannabis compliance. Your business’s SOPs will need to be a detailed documentation of your facility’s processes and procedures.
Demonstrating that you have adequate funding to become a fully licensed cannabis business will require gathering all the documentation that shows you have a legal source of funding. This also involves financial documents showing your purchases, such as real estate, design build payments, employee salaries, and all other costs involved in getting your facility operational.
You also need to secure cannabis-friendly real estate. Because this is one of the many requirements for getting your application completed and considered for licensing, a cannabis consulting company can help you with site selection so you can find property that adheres to safety and security standards and meets all the relevant regulations and zoning restrictions for your particular cannabis business type, specifically for your state.
When you allow a cannabis consultant to become an extension of your team, you will have marijuana professionals who will ensure you complete your requirements and meet your deadlines. Using tested processes, they will create a timeline that schedules every aspect of the application to ensure each section is completed in a timely manner.
Gain Competitive Edge and Stand Out
While you may have experience and skill in running a business, you may not have expertise in each aspect of the cannabis industry. These include cannabis laws and regulations, tax compliance, facility safety and security requirements, marijuana cultivation processes, extraction technology, and so on.
Experienced cannabis consulting companies are comprised of teams of experts that specialize in the various fields of the marijuana industry. This includes lawyers with in-depth knowledge of state and federal marijuana laws, policies, and cannabis regulations. The team will also likely have finance experts to ensure you can demonstrate tax and accounting compliance. Expert cannabis marketers know the restrictions involved in marijuana marketing. And skilled marijuana architects and engineers will ensure your cannabis facility design and construction complies with your state’s cannabis safety and operational regulations. Each of these cannabis experts will help ensure that each aspect of your application is completely professional to demonstrate competency.
With years of experience in completing marijuana licensing applications, an experienced cannabis consultancy firm knows what it takes to make your application stand out. Leveraging application templates and customizable formats, your application will benefit from a strong structure that has been effective at winning business licenses.
Leverage the Skills of Expert Industry Researchers and Writers
Cannabis consulting companies have professional application writers who are skilled at technical writing, researching, and proofreading. So not only do they have extensive knowledge in the cannabis industry, but they can also write your application in a concise and clear manner. They will tackle all the tough questions and demonstrate your business’s ability to become successful and profitable.
Whether your business is a grow facility, dispensary, cannabis testing lab, or vertically integrated company in the medical cannabis or recreational marijuana market, the right licensing consultant and professional application writers will ensure your narrative is clear, consistent, and compelling.
Cannabis applications are composed of dozens of worksheets with some applications reaching over a hundred pages. Each section will typically have a word limit, making it crucial that you write your answers in a manner that is concise and clear. It may surprise you that many marijuana applications have been dismissed due to a technicality, such as a missed or incomplete section. Professional technical writers are thorough and diligent about double-checking all their work to ensure your application is complete and competitive.
When you trust a qualified, cannabis application writer to help you complete the written portions of your application, you can be assured that the writing will not only be captivating but consistent, but free of punctuation and grammar errors. They will also ensure that the writing is free of biases that may raise red flags.
Applying for licenses in the highly competitive marijuana industry is time-consuming and complex. It’s almost impossible to complete entirely on your own, without help from marijuana professionals. If you attempt to do it on your own because you believe it is a way to save money, you will likely discover the hard way that you may not meet the deadlines or complete the sections. Becoming a cannabis business owner is costly due to application fees, license fees, cannabis real estate requirements, and equipment and technology. It would be a shame to invest so heavily in launching your business and prepare it for operations, only to lose what may be your only chance to secure a license.
Keep in mind that most, if not all, cannabis application fees are non-refundable. Should you not be awarded a license, not only will the $5,000-$10,000 application fee not be returned to you, but you will need to have a contingency plan for the property you have acquired. Therefore, it would be wise to choose the right cannabis licensing consultant to help you win a coveted license and make the most of your investment.
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The How-To Guide to Cannabis Licensing
The increasing number of states passing legislation for the legalization of marijuana and the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act has led to heightened interest in participating in the cannabis industry.
As the cannabis marketplace evolves, stigma surrounding the plant fades, and consumer demand continues to rise. There has never been a better time to participate in what is predicted to be a multi-billion marketplace. However, because marijuana legalization varies from state to state, you will need to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific cannabis program and its rules and regulations. State laws establish who may cultivate or sell cannabis without prosecution under federal law.
Before you get started, you will need to determine the type of licensing, permitting, and documents your marijuana business requires. The different types of cannabis businesses will have their own set of requirements and application processes. In this guide, we will discuss the types of medical marijuana business licenses, how to apply for a cannabis license, and the benefits of working with cannabis consultants to get a license. We will also discuss the business opportunities in the industrial hemp space.
Types of Marijuana Business Licenses
There are various types of marijuana businesses and therefore, different license types. Before you begin the cannabis application process, you need to determine the type of cannabis business you are planning to launch. If your state has both a recreational and medical marijuana program, you have more opportunities to explore. Investing in the recreational cannabis space means access to a broader audience and not having to deal with the paperwork and regulations associated with medical cannabis.
However, if your state does not have a recreational or adult-use marijuana program, an investment in medical marijuana also comes with its benefits. As a medical marijuana business, you would be providing patients with qualifying conditions access to cannabis products that will improve their quality of life.
While you may want to start a cannabis business that deals in both medical and recreational marijuana, you may also have to refine your decision by choosing the specific type of business. Keep in mind that the terms for marijuana businesses are different from state to state. For example, a growing facility may be called a cultivation center in a different state, while a dispensary will be referred to as a retail store by another state. The following are the most common types of cannabis business licenses:
Dispensary – Consumers are most familiar with marijuana dispensaries because they are the brick and mortar establishments or retail stores where they can physically purchase marijuana products. A cannabis dispensary or retail marijuana business is ideal for the entrepreneur who enjoys facing the consumers. Keep in mind that most states have strict regulations for dispensaries, such as locations that must be more than 500-1000 feet from schools, churches, etc.
Cultivation – There are outdoor and indoor growing facilities, also known as cultivation centers. However, outdoor growing facilities are only established in states where the climate and state restrictions allow for outdoor marijuana production. Whether indoors or outdoors, growing facilities are usually required to be located away from schools, parks, libraries, or any other establishments that cater to minors.
Because most state laws typically require that cultivation operations or cannabis production facilities be in remote locations, you can enjoy benefits like security and potential for future expansions. Cannabis production facilities require a significant investment because space, infrastructure, equipment, and soil costs can add up. The growing facility will also need proper ventilation, climate control, irrigation control systems, and the right lighting.
Extraction – Currently, the majority of marijuana sales are concentrates and cannabis extracts. With this kind of demand, starting an extraction operation is a good way to enter the cannabis industry.
Using special extraction systems and skilled extraction technicians, extraction labs take the marijuana plant and apply industrial solvents, heat, and pressure to the plant to extract pure compounds. You will also need to decide which of the many extraction and refinement methods your extraction lab will focus on; this will determine your equipment, labor, laboratory, and licensing requirements.
Processing and Manufacturing – Processors and manufacturers are licensed to purchase marijuana to process it and manufacture it into marijuana products like oils, tinctures, ointments, edibles, and so on.
Distributor – Marijuana distributors are licensed to transport cannabis products from a marijuana establishment to another marijuana establishment. For example, a distributor may transport marijuana from a cultivation facility to a dispensary.
Vertically Integrated Cannabis Business – Vertical integration in the cannabis industry refers to a cannabis company that controls more than one stage of the cannabis supply chain. Achieving vertical integration means consolidating the cannabis production processes by not only growing and processing the product but also distributing it to other businesses or individual consumers.
The Industrial Hemp Program
Hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act, making it legal on a federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Industrial hemp is used for over 25,000 industrial and commercial products, which makes it a cash crop with the potential to be a highly lucrative industry. However, hemp, like marijuana, is regulated by states, and farmers, researchers, and entrepreneurs will still need a license to operate.
How to Get a License to Grow Hemp
The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set up the national hemp growing program. While you can apply for a federal license at the USDA, they won’t be available in the states that ban the commercial growing of hemp. As of the time this article was written, South Dakota, Mississippi, Idaho, and New Hampshire are states with these laws.
The USDA will be accepting license applications year-round, with licenses valid for one calendar year. The USDA has also established a rule that all hemp plants will be tested at a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered laboratory to ensure their THC levels remain within legal limits.
Basic Requirements for a Cannabis License Application
While marijuana legalization and industrial hemp laws vary from state to state, those that have cannabis programs typically have an application process that involves some common factors that application “judges” will require. The following are the more common requirements for cannabis business application:
Business Plan – Marijuana program regulators will need to determine your readiness to operate a legal cannabis business. Therefore, your business plan should be a document that demonstrates your ability to run a productive and profitable marijuana business that follows relevant regulations.
A cannabis business plan follows the outline of traditional business plans. They will have sections like the executive summary, industry overview, market analysis, competitive analysis, sales and marketing plan, ownership structure, operating plan, and financials.
For a cannabis business, your business plan should also include any information that supports your marijuana business idea, such as cannabis market studies and descriptions of your products. This is why it’s crucial to study state-specific cannabis regulations.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – The application reviewers and analysts will need to determine your ability to maintain a safe and secure facility. You’ll need to create clear and actionable SOPs that outline your processes, explain why they are performed, and who is expected to execute the processes. The goal is to prove that you can stay on top of the constantly shifting rules and regulations of the cannabis industry.
Your SOPs should also detail your procedures for health and safety issues, equipment and supplies, and emergencies. Each procedure should be mapped out in detail. Pay attention to any language or wording that may cause miscommunication, which may lead to accidents or legal action.
Financial Plan and Proof of Funding – The application process itself can be costly, with some states requiring thousands of dollars in application and license fees. Therefore, you need to demonstrate that you have strong financials to not only proceed with the application process but to also build and launch your intended cannabis business.
The costs of launching and operating a fully licensed marijuana business requires strong financials and a legal source of funding. Beyond the hefty application fee and renewal fee that range between $5,000 – $10,000, there are the real estate costs, ongoing costs to operate, and staffing. You also need to factor in business equipment, security and surveillance systems, marketing, and capital requirements.
Cannabis Real Estate – Know your local regulations before investing in real estate. Before applying for a license, you will need to have secured cannabis-friendly property that meets all the requirements of your type of cannabis business. For example, your dispensary should be in a location that complies with the state’s zoning restrictions, which likely involve operating at a specified distance from a school.
Keep in mind that not all properties are considered “cannabis friendly.” While your state may approve your location, there’s the reality that your landlord may not approve. If you intend to rent a space, be upfront with the building owner about the nature of your business. This will help avoid problems in the future. Higher Yields has an in-house cannabis real estate team that can help you find the perfect property.
Background Checks – You will need to provide proof that you don’t have any felony convictions. Whether you are applying as the owner, or you are an investor, licenses are typically not granted to those with a criminal past.
For example, applicants for the USDA Hemp program need to provide an FBI criminal history report. You cannot receive a hemp production license if you have been convicted of a controlled substance-related felony in the last 10 years.
Why Work with Cannabis Consultants to Help Get Your Cannabis Business License?
What makes the cannabis business license so rigorous and time-consuming is the dozens of pages and sections that you will need to fill out. However, completing all the sections of the application form isn’t the only challenge. Some states only have a limited number of licenses to award. The state licensing authority may use a scoring methodology that ranks applications and awards licenses to those that perform the highest. This means that meeting the minimum requirements is typically not enough for you to win a coveted license; you need to ensure your application stands out.
Cannabis consulting services provide you with everything you need to accomplish your cannabis application. Here’s what you can expect when you leverage the skills of an experienced team of cannabis application writers:
Meet Deadlines – Some marijuana license applications are massive documents composed of dozens or hundreds of sections. Completing and submitting an application is something that cannot possibly be done overnight. On average, you will need at least 4-6 weeks to complete the application.
Cannabis consultants help you avoid common mistakes that many make when tackling the complex cannabis license application process. Because cannabis licensing consultants have vast experience in winning marijuana business licenses, they know to never underestimate the time it takes to finish the application.
From the moment you ask for their help, they will create a timeline that plans out every aspect of the application. Meeting deadlines is one of the most impressive qualities of expert cannabis application writers. The ability to complete applications in a timely manner comes from years of experience and detailed knowledge of state cannabis laws and regulations.
Competitive Content Thanks to Specialized Skills – Cannabis business applications are massive compilations of documents that require the expertise of all aspects of a cannabis business, from the business plan and SOPs to facility design and financials. Therefore, the best way to approach cannabis licensing is to leverage the expertise of consultants who make it their mission to ensure you’re awarded a license.
Cannabis consulting companies have a team of marijuana experts that specialize in different fields of the cannabis industry, including tax accounting, compliance, real estate, facility design, and so on. Because they have in-depth knowledge of each state’s licensing system and approval process, they have the skill to complete each section of your application properly. This minimizes the risk of getting your application rejected over a technicality.
Expert Writing and Research Skills – Some applications have word limits for each section. This is where the services of an expert cannabis technical writer bring the most value. They will use clear, concise language that will demonstrate in-depth cannabis expertise and your business’s potential to have a positive economic impact.
Qualified technical writers are not only skilled writers but also thorough researchers and diligent proofreaders. As experienced cannabis application writers that are knowledgeable in your state’s marijuana business rules and regulations, they will be careful to write in a manner that meets the expectations of your city or state. And as meticulous proofreaders, they will double- and even triple-check each section for inconsistencies, grammar and punctuation errors, and to ensure nothing is missed.
Demonstrate Profitability and Compliance – The goal of any good cannabis application writer is to prove that you will be a productive and profitable marijuana business operator. They will answer the tough questions surrounding your business in areas like security, storage, taxes, accounting, compliance, insurance, marketing, legal protections, and so on.
Cannabis application writers will also ensure that the content is free of any biases. Many people who attempt to accomplish the application on their own may not realize that answers that are too passionate may hurt their chances of being awarded a license. While it’s done with good intentions, the panel reviewing the applications don’t want biased opinions or humor; they want your application to demonstrate your technical understanding of the processes and operations of running a cannabis business. More than anything, they want to determine your business’s potential for profitability while remaining compliant to state marijuana policies and regulations.
Competitive Edge – If your state is still in the process of legalizing recreational marijuana or still refining its medical marijuana program, a cannabis consultant can help you get a headstart on the competition. A pre-license assessment can help you identify your gaps, weaknesses, and areas where you can improve to ensure you’re ready when your state opens the application window for business licensing.
Each state will have its own rules, policies, regulations, and restrictions when it comes to the cannabis licensing process. Lack of understanding of state-specific laws, licensing information, and the complexities of the marijuana business application process can lead people to underestimate the required timelines and resources.
It’s beneficial to seek the expertise of professional consultants who have a comprehensive understanding of the industry. Many don’t realize that business license applications may be dismissed due to a technicality, such as an incomplete section or missing documents. Because the application process itself can be time-consuming and expensive, it would be a shame to lose what may be your only shot at winning a license because you attempted to do it on your own. Therefore, working with a cannabis consultant when applying for a marijuana license should be approached as an investment.
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5 Tips for a Successful Cannabis Dispensary License Application
Getting started on your cannabis dispensary license application? It can be a complicated process! Just ask Higher Yields’ application writers and consultants. We’ve been awarded licenses in over 13 states, in both the adult use and medical markets, and it hasn’t always been an easy road. But with the right approach, getting approval is within reach.
Here are our top 5 tips for a submitting a successful cannabis license application:
1. Don’t procrastinate! Plan ahead to finish your application on time.
This tip might seem obvious, but many applicants put off working on their application until the time is almost up. The last thing you want is to end up in the 11th hour throwing things together without much intention.
Each application has a big list of requirements, and it’s important to make sure each section is strong and complete. Plan ahead and delegate sections so you can make sure you have time to finish with a competitive application.
2. Put together a strong team with a good business history.
In many states, applications are judged based on merit. This means they are more likely to give out licenses to those with a strong proven track record for success in cannabis, making money and paying the bills on time. Put together a strong team with members who have a history of success in the type of work your company will be engaged in. You should have some experts in your field, a strong financial partner, and consultants with the experience to fill in any gaps. Some states even require a doctor or pharmacist be on the team.
Your application should be built around the strengths of your team, so make sure it is a team worth highlighting.
3. Create detailed operations plans.
It’s important to create detailed operations plans for your application. This is one of the harder parts to put together, because it requires someone experienced in the industry who can really understand the day to day operations of your business. This can be a challenge because many business owners don’t know the details of day-to-day operations that haven’t started yet. These plans need to cover everything involved in your business including things like compliance, community engagement, record keeping, audits, security and more.
This is once place where consultants can be extremely helpful. We have thousands of pages of operating plans already created, which can be cut down and customized to your business.
4. Find the right real estate – but buy on a contingency.
Another crucial aspect of your application is the real estate. You need to find just the right property to house a cannabis business. This property should meet all the zoning requirements of your state, and local jurisdiction, and be suitable for the day-to-day needs of your business. But once you find that property, you also have to convince the owner to let you purchase or rent on a contingency. This is easier said than done, since many owners don’t want to wait around for months to see if your approved, but it is important. That last thing you want is to end up with a unusable property, if your cannabis license application is denied.
Finding the real estate on contingency is one half of the battle, but then you will also need to get the local government to approve. Some jurisdictions have officials that just want to help applicants get going and start bringing in some tax revenue, but others are trying to slow things down and make things difficult. Finding real estate in an area that’s more friendly to cannabis business can make a big difference.
5. Build a local presence.
Wherever you decide to start your business, it’s important to build a local presence. Most states and localities aren’t crazy about people coming in from outside to create cannabis businesses, and making money off their citizens without creating any jobs. So, it’s important to have a local team, or at least have members of your team that are local.
Moving to the area for even a few months before you submit your application can also make a difference. Get involved in the local cannabis community, go to the local political meetings and town hall meetings about cannabis, meet the decision makers and show your investment in the community. Establishing strong relationships with regulators can help later when they are grading applications. Plus, attending these meetings gives you a front row seat to new developments, so you won’t get caught off guard to any changes in the local cannabis policies.
Need some help with your application? Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting can help. Our knowledgeable consultants and application writers have helped cannabis businesses achieve licensing success in over 13 states. We can help your business navigate the process as well. Contact us to get started creating a cannabis license application that stands out from the crowd.
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3 Big Mistakes to Avoid on your Cannabis License Applications
The Complex Cannabis License Application Process
Writing a cannabis business license application isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s an extensive project that requires expertise, planning, and a lot of hard work. So there are few things more frustrating than attempting to go through this long process only to have your application denied.
Unfortunately this is often the situation for cannabis entrepreneurs who are looking to build a new business but unaware of the common pitfalls and problems that might arise while applying.
At Higher Yields Consulting we’ve helped applicants in 13 different states achieve licensing success, so we know just how tricky it can be. To help you out, we’ve created a list of the 3 biggest mistakes you can make while applying for your cannabis license application.
1. Underestimating the Cannabis License Process and Procrastinating
Perhaps the biggest mistake that applicants make when applying for a cannabis business license is to underestimate the work and time it will take to finish. Procrastination is tempting, especially when you may be delayed on finishing certain sections while you work out the details. But this procrastination can be the kiss of death, leaving applicants bumping up against their deadlines without time to actually complete the hefty application.
Instead of procrastination, make sure to plan out every aspect of your application. It may seem like one big project that you can knock out when the time is right, but it’s actually a lot of smaller projects, like building a team, creating the operational plans, meeting regulations, recruiting, real estate, development, and financials. Each one of these is their own project and needs to be taken seriously and meticulously planned out in advance. Finish your application early and make sure to have the most detail oriented person on your team look it over. Make sure every section is complete and properly filled out, so you don’t get rejected over a technicality.
2. Doing Your Cannabis License Application on Your Own
As we mentioned above, completing your application is a huge endeavor, so don’t try to do it all by yourself. This is a common mistake that usually ends poorly. The most successful applications are usually put together by a team of cannabis professionals working together, not a single individual.
Plan out with your team who will complete each section, so you can all start working, filling out your individual pieces in tandem. For each section of the application, make sure that the person writing it has the expertise and experience to do a great job. This means you should either have that expertise already present on your team, or find consultants who have the knowledge to help you fill in the blanks. You will need a lot of different people and you need everybody to be moving forward together at the same time. Make sure roles and responsibilities, as well as internal deadlines are clear for everyone involved, so that you can stay up to date with your external deadlines, and never miss the deadline for turning your application in.
3. Saying Too Much on Your Cannabis License Application
One other common mistake that people make on their application is saying too much about their future plans. Maybe you are applying for a cultivation license but you’d also like your business to do work with extraction. Some applicants might think it makes sense to share their future extraction plans while describing their cultivation plan. But these details aren’t relevant to those who are deciding about your cultivation license and could actually cause confusion or problems.
For example, regulators might think that you are planning to do extraction based on only the cultivation license and get confused. Or maybe your local regulators aren’t as friendly to extraction as they are to cultivation, and would see your cultivation plan less favorably knowing your other plans for the future. Either way, sharing too many details can get in the way and cause big problems.
Instead, stay focused on a clear, simple and consistent plan, one that is relevant to the the license type you are applying for. You can always do planning in the background to prepare for the future. Just don’t add it into your current application.
Looking for help with your application? Our knowledgeable consultants and application writers have helped cannabis businesses achieve licensing success in over 13 states. We can help your business navigate the process as well.
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Creating a Cannabis Business Plan
Cannabis Business Plan – Where to Start
Trying to start your cannabis business plan? It’s one of the most important documents you’ll create when it comes to the success of your business, so it’s worth putting in some time to get it right. Not only should this lay out all the details of how you’ll pull off your big cannabis business idea, but it is also the document that investors will look at to decide whether your business is worth taking a risk on.
At Higher Yields Consulting, we’ve helped many entrepreneurs to craft successful business plans that entice investors and set up a business for success. So, we thought we’d share some tips on how to create a business plan that makes investors take notice.
Gather All The Pieces for s Successful Cannabis Business Plan
Once you have a strong idea for your cannabis business, you’ll want to spend some time figuring out what you need to make it happen. You may already have some pieces of the picture in place, so start with what you have and then figure out what else you will need. Perhaps you already have a strong team, but need to find a piece of real estate to operate from. Maybe you already have a piece of land, but you need a financial partner to fund development of the property.
Get together the details of everything you need to make this cannabis businessplan to work, such as real estate, a strong team, a business strategy, and well developed financials. If you find something is missing, research and then describe what it will take to obtain it. This could mean spelling out the cost of the real estate you’d like to purchase, or the cost of recruiting that expert you need on the team. Whatever it is, if it is required to make your business function, it should be included in one way or another in the business plan.
Create a Strong Strategy with Cannabusiness Financial Plans
Creating a strong strategy with realistic financials is also a huge part of the battle when it comes to making a successful business plan. Your investors want to know that you have a strategy for how to create and sustain this business in its current market. Consider how your business will stand out from the crowd? Do you have any competitive advantages when compared to the competition? How will you grow your brand and market share over time? Developing this part of the plan can take a lot of creativity and business experience. But, it is also the part of your plan that lays out how you will move forward. If it isn’t well developed – you probably aren’t ready to start a business. If you aren’t confident in what you have, find help from consultants or other experts in the field to develop something great.
Include an Exit Plan
One of the most important parts of a business plan, from an investor’s point of view, is the exit plan. You might think it’s bad form to talk about what might go wrong in your business, while trying to convince an investor to fund your project. But actually, this is one of the key aspects of the plan that investors look for. While your investor might believe in the business and its potential for success, they also know that 90% of startups fail, and this one might too. So investors want to know that there is an exit strategy for how to recoup costs if things don’t go to plan. This might be as simple as reselling or leasing the property that was being used, or even selling off your cannabis license to a bigger player in space. So look over the assets you have or want to acquire. What could you do to recoup funds if things go south and you need to shut down?
Get Help Filling in the Gaps
It’s not at all unusual for an entrepreneur to feel overwhelmed by the task of creating a business plan. It’s a big task with a lot of complex pieces, and it requires expertise in a lot of different areas. If you are doing it by yourself, you’ll likely find there are gaps in your knowledge where experts might be able to offer assistance. There is no shame in asking for help. This business plan will set up your entire operation for success or failure so find help from consultants or other experts to fill in the gaps.
When we work with clients at Higher Yields Consulting, we utilize our experience to help steer them in the right direction. We’ve been through business plan creation so many times, and can help clients develop a strong strategy, build solid financials and avoid common pitfalls in the planning process. We can even help navigate tricky questions like how much equity to preserve while still making an enticing offer to investors.
If you need help crafting your business plan, contact us to see how our team of consultants can help you create a plan that will stand out from the crowd and make investors want to sign on the dotted line.
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Cannabis Business Planning 101: Finding Your Big Idea
Planning For Your Big Cannabis Business Idea
The green rush is here. With more and more areas in the US and abroad shifting their policies to allow for legal cannabis, the marijuana industry has become the fastest growing industry in the world. Still, while many want to get involved with the space and cash in on the rapidly expanding market, not everyone has found a big cannabis business idea that can can stand out against the competition. Let our consultants help you understand proper cannabis business planning from the ground up.
At Higher Yields Consulting, part of our work is to help cannabis entrepreneurs brainstorm big ideas that can bring even bigger returns. So we thought we’d share some of the basic steps you can use when brainstorming your own big idea.
Assess Your Expertise – Do You Need a Cannabis Business Consultant?
When we work with clients on brainstorming business ideas, we usually start by assessing their team and the expertise they bring to the table. So to get started with your own brainstorming session, consider the backgrounds of the people on your team. What skills do they have which might transfer to the cannabis industry? If someone comes from real estate, this could be helpful for more real estate driven business models. Does your team have a background in sales? Perhaps distribution is a good fit. Come from a manufacturing background? You might do well with extraction or product manufacturing. Got a talented chef in the mix? Try doing something with edibles. Will you need to bring in cannabis business consultants to help you accomplish your goals?
Whatever skill sets are present on your team should be the starting point for your brainstorming process. There is no point moving forward on a brilliant business idea, if your team won’t be able to actually pull it off. So make sure you design a plan that speaks to your expertise and feels like something you can make happen.
Cannabis Business Planning – Understand Your Market
While it’s key to start with your own teams expertise, you also have to find an idea that fits into the market you are working in. Even if you craft the perfect plan for your team, if it doesn’t work well in your particular area, it’s just not the right idea. So you will also have to look at where you are at, and how to modify your plans so that they make sense in that context.
Part of this stage is looking at the cannabis services already available in your market. You want to notice if there are gaps (areas where a service or product is needed) or areas of over saturation.
For example, in Colorado there is an over saturation of cannabis cultivators, but much fewer cannabis dispensaries. In this market you can make a lot more money opening up a cannabis shop than you could trying to compete as a cultivator with a stand-alone grow facility. So if cultivation is your team’s skill set, but your in Colorado, a market that is over saturated with cultivators, you’ll need a good plan. You might consider a plan that includes vertical integration so you can cash in on your growing skills by selling your cannabis through your own storefront. These market factors can be the difference between success and failure, so you should always take them into account when you are brainstorming your big idea.
Calibrate Your Financials
Finally, it’s important that your idea has the financials to support it. It’s great to dream big, but you need to have a realistic plan for reaching those big goals. If you know you have a certain budget, make sure that your plans are achievable within that budget. If you are courting investors as part of the process, you’ll need to have a strong business plan with a financial strategy that shows you understand what it will take to make your idea happen, and how much return your investors can expect to get back. Your numbers need to make sense with your plan and show that the business can be profitable. This will not only put investors at ease and increase the likelihood that they will want to invest, it will also ensure that your plan has it’s best chance at success. All in all, it will save you a world of heartache and stress later down the line.
If all this sounds like a big project, it certainly can be. Planning a successful new business isn’t a simple task. After all, 90% of new startups fail. That’s why getting advice and insight from expert consultants can be a big help. From brainstorming, to sharing insider knowledge about the different cannabis markets, to assisting with the complicated financial planning, our consultants have a lot of experience with this part of the process. Feel free to contact us for help or advice on finding your big idea.