With recreational marijuana now legal in several states and further legalization still on the horizon, there has never been a better time to get into the business of growing or distributing marijuana. And there is no shortage of bright entrepreneurs who are ready to turn their love of cannabis and great cannabis products into a money-making venture. But, of course, starting a new business is never easy – and it’s even harder when the business in question deals with a product with as much red tape and as many legal restrictions and marijuana. Here’s what you need to know to start a successful marijuana business.
Do your Research
The first question you should ask yourself about any business is why it should exist. Customers don’t appear just because you care about your product, as many a failed shop will tell you: a vegetarian restaurant may not fare well in a red-meat town, and an artisanal meat shop may not be the right fit for a neighborhood full of people who avoid meat for religious reasons. So your first step is to make sure that your business should exist at all: research your market, your desired location, and other relevant factors to the best of your abilities. You need to have a decent idea of your market, from the size of it (how many consumers are closer to your store than to existing ones?) to its tastes (is your market ready for edibles?).
Get a Lawyer
Armed with a draft of your marijuana business plan, it’s time to head to an attorney. It’s not too early to head here, because your lawyer is going to help you with every step of this process, from legally securing funding to organizing your business. Together, you and your attorney will fine-tune your business plan and lay out the first steps toward getting it off the ground. Expect things to change: perhaps your recreational marijuana dispensary should focus on edibles in order to differentiate itself, or maybe your medical marijuana business plan is a better fit in a nearby city than it is in your hometown.
Your lawyer will be helpful in this step, because there are restrictions in how you’re permitted to advertise marijuana. But, just as with any other type of business, it’s vital that you do advertise. That means getting great web design and having a social media presence. It means good logos and branding – a tricky step for marijuana dispensaries, which have to make their presence known to customers without coming across as too shady or juvenile.
Track your Business
Once you’re off and running, keep careful tabs on your finances. Look at where you’re spending and how much you’re bringing in, and look for places to save on things like payroll by outsourcing (or, as you grow, bringing more parts of your business back in-house). Your attorney will once again be a huge help here, as he or she can suggest the best ways to organize your business legally and what kind of liabilities and obligations come with each type of business.
Your work will continue for as long as your business is viable, of course, but getting these tough tasks done early on will enable you to focus on your passion – cannabis – without having to worry about the basics. With great legal support and a firm business plan, you’ll be off and running in one of the country’s most exciting and fastest-growing industries.