It’s been well-established that the cannabis marketplace is booming and should only boom more in the years ahead. With the legal U.S. market slated to exceed $73 billion by 2027, it is no surprise that scores of operators now want to stake a claim in the space. Many such individuals strive to succeed independently rather than getting a job or launching a full-scale venture out the gate.
The current market has ample room for those willing to put in the work. Green Flower spoke to some individuals who did just that to better understand how to brand yourself as a bonafide solopreneur in the growing cannabis marketplace.
Ample Opportunities For Solo Cannabis Industry Success
The cannabis market is rife with opportunity for those looking to make a name out of themselves. “The fundamental laws and principles of business still apply in the cannabis economy,” says Mike Zaytsev, better known as Mike Z, a New York City-based cannabis business coach, CEO, and author of The Cannabis Business Book.
“Most business skill sets are transferable into cannabis,” he added.
Skills and passion can combine for a promising career in the nascent space. “Maybe it’s data science, marketing, content creation, public relations etc., there is a demand within cannabis for services of all sizes,” explained Melissa Vitale, an independent cannabis public relations firm owner.
Vitale’s work covers cannabis and the sexual wellness markets, representing just one of a multitude of crossover work available in the space today.
Ryan Kocot, a Sacramento, California-based lawyer began his cannabis industry experience as an independent lawyer before becoming general counsel and director of compliance for ikänik Farms. Kocot told Green Flower how certain roles, like his own, allow for multi-sector business dealings.
“Cannabis law intersects with just about every area of the law,” noted the Sacramento County Bar Association Cannabis Law Association founder.
Those interviewed for this article offered a range of roles that could provide opportunity and revenue gains for individuals entering the space. Vitale highlighted social media management as one role, which has been amplified during the stay-at-home orders of the past few months. Legal expert Kocot singled out operational skills, noting that day-to-day knowledge is invaluable.
Meanwhile, Mike Z, who is also the CEO of the New York City networking community High NY, said people should look for what’s missing in the market. The cannabis multi-hyphenate said, “Ideally, you will identify something that you are uniquely qualified and well equipped to solve,” adding that people shouldn’t balk at taking on the market’s largest inefficiencies if they can provide a solution.
Establishing A Name For Yourself
Becoming known in the cannabis space is possible, but it won’t be a walk in the park. For this article, several respondents told Green Flower that there is one tried and true method to standing out in the space.
“Become so good that they can’t ignore you,” stated Mike Z. “The best way to establish yourself is by consistently adding significant value in unique ways. Substance over sizzle,” he added.
Identifying which sectors or services to target may leave some aspiring solopreneurs scratching their heads. Both MAVPR’s Vitale and ikänik Farms Kocot agree that focusing on niche skill areas and incremental growth is the wisest approach.
Kocot told Green Flower that one person couldn’t be every solution to every client. “It’s key, therefore, to pick a niche and become an expert in that niche before branching out into other areas of the cannabis industry,” explained the cannabis industry lawyer. He elaborated, “Doing so will ensure that you are offering clients first-rate service which will build your personal brand and lead to better client retention/more referrals.”
Vitale detailed how PR business growth came thanks to focusing on providing solutions to one or two clients before developing new relationships. “Start with just one or two clients and grow with those companies,” the publicity maven noted. “Make sure you own your success online and in person so that everyone knows your work and your success.”
While focusing on select services can help grow the business, back end work may be more diverse and unavoidable for solo business owners.
In some cases, early-stage entrepreneurs may find themselves without anyone to offload certain aspects of their work. In these cases, the person may have to shoulder the load until they reach a point where they can offload tasks like billing, social media management, email or other time-consuming tasks to their team. While laborious, such roles are equally important in establishing a name as a consistent professional to work with in the industry.
Tips For Solopreneurs Entering The Cannabis Space
Many in the space advise those interested in the cannabis market to educate themselves before making any career decisions. “Be sure that this is for you before devoting significant time, money, and energy toward cannabis entrepreneurship.”
Both the author and Vitale agree that money shouldn’t be the only motivation when working in the market that sprouted out of a community. “Enter the space with proactive intentions and recognize and actively work to dismantle the racial inequalities of the space if you’re a white or white-passing individual,” said Vitale of those least often affected by the failed war on drugs.
One can both learn and make good faith efforts in the industry by showing up to events, from rallies and information sessions to networking gatherings. According to several sources, attending such events is a must in the space, while consuming cannabis isn’t so much.
“The prerequisite is bringing true value to the community as opposed to ‘faking it ’til you make it’ to make a quick buck,” explained Kocot.
“You must be committed to fighting for and facilitating intersectional cannabis justice,” explained Mike Z. He recommended considering donating 10% of business profits to cannabis justice organizations to reinvest in the community.
A solopreneur should fall back on keeping their service or product offerings specific and targeted toward market needs and the individual’s current expertise until profits arrive. Once in place, branding online with an active social media presence and regular email outreach can develop relationships with influential figures in the space and business opportunities.