I have had the absolute pleasure of operating in the highly regulated Colorado cannabis market for almost six years.
I love my job. I love my company. I love cannabis and all that it can do to help people. My personal and unique canna-journey has filled my heart and soul with gratitude — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Those experiences come from building a successful business and an entire industry at the same time, and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
There are many people who want to share what you need to build a successful business. I’m taking a different approach and offering you these thoughts instead.
Here are three (3) things you DON’T need or want for your cannabis business:
1 — A Unicorn
I promise you, no matter how beautiful your mythical creature presents itself; you do not want a Unicorn. They are expensive, they come with lots of baggage, and they are similar to Rock Stars (no yellow M&M’s, only 1000 thread count sheets) you get the picture.
This isn’t the year 2010 or 2011. This industry is full of talented people who have been operating in the legal/regulated market. For many states, that means there is tracking of some kind currently in place.
Tracking is a wonderful tool for compliance, of course! However, it becomes even more valuable when you are vetting grow or extraction staff. Gone are the days of a grower showing you their prize on an iPhone, while declaring, “I’m getting 3 pounds a light!”
Today there are systems, science, process and procedures, state tracking, Point of Sale systems, and grow software that provide verifiable and measurable data so that you can make a solid business decision. For example, yields by harvest, strain information, independent test results, and many other data points that are helpful for determining how an operator, well, operates!
If the Unicorn doesn’t come with a resume full of data for you to see exactly how well they performed, then save yourself the trouble.
2 — Bad Money
BELIEVE people when they show you who they are the FIRST time. (Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou!) Run, don’t walk. RUN away from money that doesn’t honor your business, your partnership, or you! Today this industry is full of opportunists, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are everywhere, and they would love nothing more than to separate you, from your business, as cheap as possible.
Having recently gone through an incredibly long vetting process on a potentially significant investor, it was with great pleasure that my team looked across the negotiation table and said, “no, thank you.”
Fiercely protect what you have built, and be prepared to walk away from nine out of ten business deals that come your way. I promise you, that there are plenty of smart, and thoughtful money partners out there.
Be patient, vet well, trust your gut, but most of all, walk away from bad money that does not serve your ultimate business goals.
3 — Shiny Pennies
Over half of my email in-box consists easily of unsolicited requests to support a new business, a new technology, or a new idea. Inquiries for help with this not-for-profit (that will solve all of my problems or all of the problems of a certain demographic). Many, of those requests or inquiries, demand my time and attention, and they are absolutely beside themselves when I haven’t returned their call, email or request for coffee, lunch of dinner on their schedule.
It is beyond a full-time job, trying to keep up with all of the fledgling businesses and opportunities that exist, in the Cannabis Industry. And isn’t that the beauty of where we are as an industry? So much white space, and blue sky. And it’s incredibly easy to get distracted, by what others think they know, about how their business can help your business.
Honestly, I love hearing new pitches, new ideas, and the possibilities of these hungry passionate souls that want to support cannabis businesses. But, my time is my most valuable asset. I have a family, a wonderful partner, dogs, a turtle and ME. There are only so many hours in our days, and we only possess a finite amount of energy and focus.
Don’t let the constant demands for your time and input, lead you by the nose or even worse distract you from your task at hand. Protect your time as fiercely as you protect your business (says the pot to the kettle)! I’m learning this valuable lesson, probably too slowly, but learning it all the same.
There has never been a better time to enter this beautiful space that is cannabis. As a consultant, I see many fantastic ideas from potential and existing clients. Along with the laundry list of “To-Do’s” that will no doubt exhaust you for the next several years, I hope these three “Don’ts” will help save you from some of the headaches, distractions and potentially painful experiences as you embark on your journey