By Maureen Ryan
One of the many tough challenges of running a cannabis company is knowing who to trust. Finding business partners you can count on to have your back in every situation and operate with integrity is absolutely essential for helping your business grow.
Like with any type of business in any sector, you can’t win playing a solo game. Success requires talent, grit, and a nose for knowing who you can trust, that the people and companies you surround yourself will know what they’re talking about and have your back in every kind of situation.
That’s why I recommend seeking out business partners—whether giving you legal, marketing, or accounting advice—that can serve as your “trusted advisors” rather than simple “vendors.”
When you’re looking to team up with an advisory firm, you’re not trying to fulfill a simple request—you’re working on building a resource that will be there for you for the long haul and help steer you in the right direction.
But how do you know you’re surrounding yourself with the right partners? As you look for trusted advisors that can help your business through crisis like COVID-19, here are some key attributes to focus on:
The ability to listen: A trusted advisor listens carefully to what you say and don’t say. They are always asking questions, assessing the situation and offering recommendations. Trusted advisors are also listening for cues on your company’s culture so that they don’t overstep their boundaries when it comes to how and when to make suggestions or implement changes.
Adaptability: Nobody wants someone coming in from the outside with an overbearing or condescending attitude, insisting on doing things their way. This is especially true when a company is in the midst of a big change, like preparing to attract investors or resetting the company’s finances. Internal politics can come to a head during such transitions, with stress levels running high. A trusted advisor should have a knack for understanding the politics, rising above it, and using a diplomatic yet direct approach to keep you moving down the right path, in an efficient manner.
Altruism: Trusted advisors always put your needs ahead of their own. During our engagements with companies at every stage of growth, we often see companies bogged down by manual processes that could be automated. Even if a better, more streamlined way of working could reduce the company’s reliance on us, we recommend the needed improvements. By always seeing our firm as an extended member of a client’s team first and foremost, we pick up on solutions and answers to their problems. They’re better off for our guidance and, as a consequence, we are more likely to earn their trust.
Candidness: Honesty is the best policy in any relationship, and that’s particularly true in business. At our firm, we value being trustworthy and we’re experienced in what that means when it comes to delivering bad news about a client’s books, cash position or forecast. Being upfront means sometimes having awkward or difficult conversations.
The key to building up an ecosystem of business partners that can help you unlock your business’ promise comes down to integrity and trust. Do they mean what they say, and carry through with their claims? Will they look out for your best interests even if it that may not align with theirs?
Whenever possible, reserve your partnering opportunities to those companies that serve as reliable resources and problem solvers. Over time, you’ll have valuable connections and places to turn to on short notice when challenges arise.
Maureen Ryan is a vice president at Kukuza Associates, a cannabis finance advisory firm with roots in the sector that go back to 2014. Named to the 2020 list of influential business women in Silicon Valley for her pioneering work in cannabis accounting and finance, Maureen has also been profiled by the National Cannabis Industry Association. Contact her at [email protected] to unlock your company’s potential or visit Kukuza’s site to get assessed.
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