Cannabis is the fastest-growing industry in America, employing over 240,000 people as of early 2020. Medical cannabis is now legal in 34 states, and 11 states plus Washington D.C. legalized adult-use cannabis. Although the nascent cannabis industry is booming, succeeding in the space isn’t a walk in the park.
We want nothing more than to watch the cannabis industry continue to grow. So, with the help of Steve DeAngelo — the “Father of the Cannabis Industry” — we’ve put together the 10 secrets of success in the cannabis industry to help guide entrepreneurs. If you are passionate about marijuana and want to use your skills and experience to be an asset to the industry, this is the perfect place to start.
The culture of cannabis revolves around camaraderie and connection. It’s important to take that mindset to the workplace, making everyone feel like a part of the family. Be patient with your staff, and don’t leave anyone out. To truly be inclusive, you have to monitor yourself and everyone else for unconscious bias. And openly discuss differences without making anyone feel objectified. According to the American Psychological Association, an unhappy workplace can increase heart disease and depression rates. Highlighting the unique qualities of each team member is an easy and worthwhile way to boost morale. As an inclusive leader, you’ll form a dynamic, efficient team that’s ready for any challenge in the cannabis industry.
Learn About Cannabis Culture
If you’re in it solely for the money, a career in cannabis won’t be fulfilling. To find success in the cannabis industry, you have to learn about the culture. The counterculture of the 1960s covers the glory years of cannabis, which evolved as states started to legalize the plant. There’s a shared set of beliefs and practices revolving around cannabis consumption, dealing with introspection, spiritual roots, and everything in between. To learn about cannabis culture is to learn about your potential clients, which will help you make a connection with them and construct loyalty loops in the marketing process.
Resolve Issues Through Peaceful Dialogue
Resolutions come from open, civil dialogue — not one-sided rants or conflicting voices where nobody listens. In this industry, having a conflict management plan is crucial for success. Encouraging trust and setting ground rules for your cannabis team to follow is a substantial beginning. However, having an exceptional HR manager or team is also necessary to help in preventing and dealing with conflicts that disrupt success. The core of your cannabis company should be built on open, peaceful dialogue, so all opinions and suggestions are genuinely heard and considered. To set up grounds for peaceful dialogue, practice the following: listen to all sides to summarize the conflict, brainstorm solutions, and discuss all options to find the best solution.
Create An Efficient Service Model
Finding success in the cannabis industry means creating a service model that pleases your target audience. So, analyze your clients and cater to their preferences. In general, your cannabis business should follow what’s trending in the market, utilize digital integration, create a welcoming experience through branding, and implement customer service standards before and after each purchase. Additionally, you have to maintain the quality of your product while still meeting the demand. Although quality is crucial, what will keep customers loyal is the customer experience. According to SuperOffice, 86% of customers said they’d pay more for excellent customer service.
Use Mechanics Of Similar Business Models
Life is about making connections, and that’s especially true in the world of business. Although the cannabis industry is unlike any other before it, there are some similarities to other markets. Use the mechanics of similar business models, such as the alcohol industry. For example, horizontal integration — where companies focus on their specialty while creating partnerships to nurture growth — may be beneficial for a cannabis business. Tap into your own non-cannabis business experience or research similar business models to set your company up for success. Also, keep in mind that not all business models will work for the unique cannabis industry, especially because there are so many pivots and regulatory hoops.
Create A Team Passionate About Cannabis
If you’re joining the cannabis industry solely for the money, chances are your company won’t go far. You have to be passionate about cannabis to succeed and grow. Additionally, your employees should be passionate about cannabis as well. If you and your team share the same love for cannabis, then your company will be inclined to go the extra mile, innovate, and evolve with the industry. Part of your hiring process should be to gauge the candidate’s enthusiasm for marijuana. They should believe in the plant’s many benefits, and it would be preferable that they consume it as well. The level of passion in the workforce makes a difference between mediocre and outstanding production.
Find An Unmet Need & Turn It Into An Opportunity
Maybe you’re passionate about cannabis but you don’t have any direct cannabis knowledge. That’s perfectly fine since there are many opportunities within each vertical of the cannabis industry. The space covers cultivation, lab, technology, manufacturing, retail, marketing, and much more. Analyze what you’re good at and see how those skills can help the cannabis industry. As the cannabis space is still young, you can find an unmet need and turn it into a business opportunity. For example, many amazing chefs transitioned to the cannabis industry when they saw an opening for upgrading edibles. What’s missing in the essential cannabis industry? Brainstorm ways you can fill that need with the skills and experience you possess.
Learn To Adapt
With all the changes in regulation in the cannabis industry, you have to be adaptable. Additionally, the rules vary depending on your location and tend to change, so being cognitively flexible is a must. Early on, cannabis entrepreneurs had to use their cash flow to grow, and weren’t allowed to advertise, so there was no marketing department. There has been plenty of progress in legal cannabis since then, but federal legalization still hasn’t come to fruition. To become more adaptable and improve one of your most important executive function skills, you can do two things: divergent thinking and transferring what you’ve learned from one context to another. This will help your brain create bridges between unconnected networks, so you can tackle novel challenges in creative ways.
Learn About The Science & History Of Cannabis
You must know your product. Cannabis has a lengthy history, as it’s thought to be one of humanity’s earliest domesticated crops. By learning about the history of the plant, you can grow your passion for it and strengthen your drive to succeed in the industry. Not to mention, you can give praise to those in history who stood by the plant and its benefits, even when the cannabis stigma was in full force. And by learning about the science behind cannabis, you can counteract the lies and a huge amount of misinformation about it. Additionally, you’ll know how cannabis interacts with the biochemistry of your body and how it can affect people in different ways, allowing you to help others more efficiently through your business.
Take Care Of Yourself
Since the cannabis industry is still young and growing rapidly, many entrepreneurs are caught up solely on financial success. Real success involves consistent work-life balance. Sacrificing family time and your sanity by working 14-16 hours almost every day of the week will lead to burnout. Those who do go 100 mph all the time are more susceptible to chronic stress, which may lead to physical consequences, including digestive issues, heart problems, and hypertension. The cannabis industry isn’t going anywhere, so take care of yourself and your employees. To take good care of your team, assign realistic workloads, clearly define their tasks, and take a coach approach instead of having an authoritarian style.
This brief guide to the secrets of success in the cannabis industry is only the beginning. If you want to prepare yourself thoroughly, our Cannabis Business Essentials 100% online program is your playbook for success. The program covers everything you need to know to make a positive impact in the industry, including commercial cultivation, marketing your brand, and increasing retail sales. Invest in a comprehensive understanding of the industry today.