Leveraging Your Business with a Cannabis Consulting FirmCannabis consultants do it all - from licensing to employee training. Here’s how to find the best consultant for your marijuana business.
Starting any new business is a complicated process. This is especially true in the relatively new and heavily regulated legal cannabis industry. Fortunately for the growing number of entrepreneurs and investors jumping into this rapidly growing market, cannabis consulting firms have risen up across the U.S. to help. Cannabis consulting companies make it their objective to know the ins and outs of starting and operating successful, profitable, and legally compliant cannabis businesses. In this article, we’ll cover what a cannabis consultant can do for your business, and what to consider before hiring one.
Cannabis Business Consulting: Who Is It For?
● New businesses
Cannabis consulting firms are an invaluable resource for those starting new businesses in the marijuana industry. Your consulting team can walk you through every step of the start-up process, from licensing and location to marketing, employee training, and more.
● Established businesses needing improvement
If your established cannabis business has run into roadblocks with compliance, profitability, or location, a cannabis consulting company can step in and work out a strategy to make your business even stronger than before.
● Businesses that are upgrading or expanding
If your business is thriving and you’re ready to upgrade your software or website, move into a new location, add more products or services, or even take your business to the multi-state level, a cannabis consultant can help you do it in the most efficient way possible.
If you’re interested in investing in the rapidly growing cannabis industry but don’t know where to start, a reputable cannabis consulting firm can connect you with entrepreneurs who need capital and/or property to help their businesses take off.
What Do Cannabis Business Consulting Firms Do?
The primary objective of any good cannabis consulting group is to make your life easier. They keep track of the most up-to-date rules, regulations, and best practices so you don’t have to spend hours sifting through technical paperwork. A marijuana business consultant will have a trained eye for spotting weak spots or details you may have missed in your business plan. Some cannabis consulting firms will set you up with software, staff education, financial services, or Real Estate for your business. But cannabis consulting companies are not one-size-fits-all. Most firms do specialize in one or two specific areas. Here’s a look at the services that different types of cannabis consulting firms typically offer.
Cannabis Business Consulting
Cannabis business consultants can help you navigate nearly every aspect of creating a successful business, including:
- Drafting a solid business plan that allows for future growth
- Assisting with the license application process, increasing the likelihood of getting approved on the first try
- Ensuring your business stays in legal compliance at every turn
- Preparing you for inspections (some consultants will attend inspections in person)
- Helping you brand your business
- Developing standard operating procedures (SOP)
- Recruiting staff and providing training
- Devising a marketing plan
- Setting you up with software specifically designed for cannabis companies
- Building your website
- Developing security strategies
- Connecting you with cannabis industry-friendly banks, insurance providers, Real Estate, and investors
- Tax planning assistance
- Advising those considering buying, selling, or merging cannabis businesses
Depending on the type of marijuana business you are running, your consulting firm may provide services tailored to your specialty in addition to some or all of those listed above.
Dispensary consultants will also give special attention to things like:
- Location planning
- Ensuring your facility and equipment are adequate
- Getting inventory control and security in place
- Ensuring your staff is trained to provide knowledgeable and courteous customer service
- Ensuring consistent branding and image
– Medical Marijuana Consultant Certification
Dispensary owners wanting to ensure the best possible results for their medical marijuana clients can have their staff complete a medical marijuana consultant certification program. These programs go beyond the basics of how medical marijuana affects the body, and the most effective ways to use it. Having at least one certified medical marijuana consultant on staff will ensure your clients are receiving consistent, trustworthy, research-backed advice.
Marijuana Cultivation Consultant
Commercial cannabis growing is a highly technical process. In addition to general business and licensing services, a marijuana grow consultant will help you figure out:
- Facility design and buildout (including assessment of your HVAC system)
- Water and nutrient needs
- Growing timelines for the most efficient crop production
- How to access the best genetics for the type of cannabis you’re growing
- How to protect the local environment and keep yourself in legal compliance
- A plan for distribution, logistics, and appropriate packaging
- The best training for your staff
– Industrial Hemp Consultant
While industrial hemp is completely legal in every U.S. state, creating a business around cultivating and selling it comes with unique challenges. In addition to the marijuana cultivation consulting services listed above, a hemp business consultant can help you with:
- Navigating stringent state regulations
- Sourcing plant genetics that will yield crops below the legal THC limit
- Ensuring your marketing is effective and legally compliant
Cannabis Extraction Consulting
If your field of business is manufacturing cannabis-derived products, a cannabis extraction consultant will be able to help you with:
- Product development
- Developing the manufacturing process
- Ensuring your facility and equipment are adequate
- Helping you create a “plan B” to keep things running in the case of equipment malfunction
- Developing a testing/quality assurance protocol
- Ensuring product packaging is legally compliant and consistent with your brand
- Staff training
- Building a network of growers and dispensaries
Cannabis Investment Consulting
Cannabis investment consultants connect business owners in need of capital with investors who want to grow their money in the legal cannabis market. Some cannabis investment firms can also help you take the steps to turn your marijuana business into a publicly-traded company.
Cannabis Education Consultants
You may personally know a lot about cannabis, but an industry-specific cannabis education course can help you establish yourself and your staff as true experts in your field. Cannabis education consultants connect business owners with the most relevant programs to arm their staff with consistent and trustworthy information. A well-trained and educated team is key to ensuring the integrity of your product and customer service.
Cannabis Real Estate Consultants
Securing a location for your cannabis business is more complicated than might meet the eye. Cannabis Real Estate consultants can help you find properties zoned and pre-approved to house marijuana businesses and help you assess each location in relation to the individual needs of your business. Cannabis Real Estate consultants will often have access to industry-friendly lenders and may be able to walk you through the financing application process.
How to Find the Right Cannabis Consultant for Your Business
As the legal cannabis market grows, the number of cannabis consulting firms does, too. How do you find the right firm to trust with your business? Here are some of the most important things to look for in a cannabis business consultant:
Seek out a cannabis consulting firm that specializes in the specific area you need help with. If you need assistance in multiple areas, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of more than one consultant. Cannabis Real Estate consulting and cannabis business plan consulting are vastly different areas of expertise!
● Qualifications and track record
Make sure that your cannabis consultants truly do have the expertise to evaluate and elevate your business. Find out what certifications and track record their firm has. Don’t hesitate to ask for references or reviews from clients of past cannabis consulting jobs.
Hiring a cannabis consultant can save you considerable money in the long run, but take a look at your budget before jumping in. Some cannabis consultants charge an hourly rate, and others charge a flat fee per project. Ask for a detailed quote outlining exactly which services are included in the price, as some may cost extra to add on.
Some cannabis consulting firms may offer to accept equity in lieu of payment, but this kind of arrangement usually isn’t worth the cash you’ll save in the short-term. This practice may even be illegal in some places, so it’s advisable to discuss these types of arrangements with a business lawyer first.
Communication with your consulting team must be clear and effective. Is there someone on staff who can provide further explanation if you don’t understand something, or are you handed a guidebook and mostly left to your own devices? Does your consultant make you feel welcomed to ask questions and check-in, or do they always seem “too busy” to return your calls? Find out how much contact and availability to expect from your consulting firm. Will support primarily be given via email, over the phone, or in-person?
● Potential conflicts of interest
The reality is, new cannabis businesses are cropping up all the time, and your local cannabis consulting groups may also end up assisting one or more of your direct competitors. Find out which policies a consulting firm has in place to ensure your sensitive information is kept confidential.
Our Recommended Cannabis Consulting Firms
If you’re interested in utilizing cannabis consulting to take your business to the next level, we highly recommend the following firms:
Servicing Throughout the U.S
One of the industry’s top PR firms, NisonCo provides a wide range of public relations and digital marketing services specifically-tailored to cannabis, CBD, and hemp businesses. NisonCo utilizes its network of high-profile media relationships and proven analytics-based marketing strategies to elevate their clients’ brands – and the overall image of the cannabis industry, actively participating in efforts to further legalization and policy reform. Headquartered in New Jersey, NisonCo operates entirely remotely, with team members located in every U.S. time zone.
GreenGrowth CPAs is dedicated to helping cannabis business owners manage the financial side of their companies. With home offices in California and Oklahoma, GreenGrowth remotely services clients throughout the U.S. and globally. This firm’s area of expertise includes everything from technical accounting, business operations, and compliance to IPO services, receivership, and helping new businesses secure capital. GreenGrowth’s approach centers around understanding each client’s individual needs, providing strategies to simplify compliance and maximize profitability.
True experts in the cannabis cultivation field since 2006, Surna helps commercial growers design and outfit their ideal indoor growing facilities. Surna offers MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) consulting and facility design services, utilizing a vast array of climate control technologies as well. Installation support is provided for all Surna cultivation systems, and equipment financing options are also available. Surna is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, and handles facility design projects throughout the U.S. and Canada.
California Cannabis Consultants
Based in Long Beach, Cannabis Advising Partners (CAP) draws on over 20 years of experience in California’s cannabis industry to assist clients with licensing, compliance, and a wide variety of business and investor services. This highly-rated full-service cannabis consulting firm works with business owners in nearly every corner of the legal cannabis industry, including retail, distribution, cultivation, and manufacturing. CAP also provides its clients with access to their network of top-notch industry vendors.
Based in San Diego, California, Cannabis Real Estate Consultants (CREC) specializes in connecting business owners with properties already pre-approved for cannabis industry use. CREC’s trademarked certification process ensures all listed properties are zoned properly and meet usage requirements at the state and local levels. In addition to its Real Estate expertise, CREC also offers a range of business and compliance consulting services, investor services, and access to its network of trusted cannabis industry professionals.
Colorado Cannabis Consultants
American Cannabis Company (ACC) provides an extensive array of services for business owners and investors throughout the legal cannabis market. Retail, commercial cultivation, and processing operations are given the option to license ACC’s distinctive high-end cannabis brand. In addition to front-to-back licensing, compliance, business, and operational management services (on-site or remote), ACC also distributes its own cutting-edge marijuana cultivation equipment. ACC is based in Denver, with future plans to expand into multi-state and international operations.
Illinois Cannabis Consultants
Headquartered in downtown Chicago, Quantum 9 has an impressive track record, assisting clients all over the U.S. and across the world. Quantum 9’s areas of expertise include permit acquisition, business planning, SOP development, facility building, technology optimization, and employee training – including its own medical marijuana patient education program. CEO and founder Michael Mayes is an internationally recognized medical marijuana expert who has been at the forefront of the legal cannabis industry since 2009.
New Jersey Cannabis Consultants
Alloy Silverstein is an award-winning CPA firm committed to providing each of its clients with personalized, focused attention and one-on-one communication. Alloy Silverstein offers a range of essential services to businesses in the legal cannabis industry, including tax services, compliance, business planning, budgeting, projections, and assistance with licensing and application. Clients also benefit from Alloy Silverstein’s established relationships with cannabis industry-friendly legal and financial professionals. Alloy Silverstein’s offices are located in Cherry Hill and Hammonton, New Jersey.