With the legalization of Marijuana in several states, there’s no doubt that new entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists are thinking about taking advantage of the Cannabis niche. With a projection of over of 23 billion dollars in sales by the year 2020, the need for new businesses and resources are starting to skyrocket. However, since the concept of legalizing what is still known as an illegal drug, there are a lot of gray areas yet to be discovered. Cannabis start-up's and even experienced business owners are left questioning whether or not marketing a company around such a controversial topic is a good decision. Despite the unknown, there are plenty of things to keep in mind when it comes to growing a business in the Cannabis Field.
When you’re just starting out, it can be kind of difficult to know which direction to take. Maybe you’ve thought of creating an edible brand or maybe you have experience in finance and want to start a funding company for legal dispensaries. Whatever fancies your entrepreneurial spirit, the concept doesn’t really matter until you begin researching the market.
Think like a lawyer, a consumer, a business owner, a marketer, a competitor and like the general public. Now, ask yourself a series of questions that each persona might be curious or concerned about when it comes to your idea. Research every possible question or answer they may have and weigh your pros and cons. If there are major setbacks or too many hoops to jump through, then maybe come up with another idea and follow the same process. By narrowing down your options and defining your niche you’re able to see what concept is more achievable and what idea has the best chance of success in reality.
If you’re in this niche then you know it’s not going to be a walk in the park to just start any kind of business. There are several different laws and regulations that Cannabis start-ups must abide by depending on they type of business they’re operating. From federal to state laws and from county to city regulations, these are all areas that need to be thoroughly researched before embarking on any business.
Not only should you research what the current guidelines are but you should also look up what laws and regulations may or may not be going in to effect in the future. Since the Cannabis industry has so much more growing to do, laws are always changing and being redefined. Try to stay on top it as much as possible so you can be prepared for whatever laws come next.
Make Sure Your Brand is on Point
Starting a business is one thing but growing a brand that people and other businesses can trust is a whole another concept. Here are just a few things to consider when it comes to branding.
Evidently, 82% of Americans say they are influenced by friends and family when they’re thinking about making a purchase. When consumers are able to naturally discover a business on their own, whether it’s through social media or word-of-mouth, they’re more likely to not only remember your start-up and what you do but they might also inquire about your services and become a customer. Even if that particular person doesn’t have a need for your product or services, chances are - they’ll know someone who will.
There are so many ways to influence people it’s ridiculous but here’s our top 3 -
Content - Write engaging content about topics that haven’t been covered before or that your readers will most likely resonate with. Learn about them and what they are interested in and try not to make every article or post ONLY about your business and your next sale.
Social media - In addition to content, use social media to engage with your audience. Whether it’s commenting or sharing a consumers post or just giving a quick shout out to say thanks, people will notice an active social media presence. And, if you post viral, unique, and engaging content, you have the opportunity to influence hundreds if not thousands of people when your readers share your content with their followers.
Personal approach - Reach out to a few of your customers and check-in with them to see how they’re doing, if their needs are being met and if there’s anything you can do to make your service better. This makes them feel important and lets them know just how much you really do value their business.
Go to Networking Events
Cannabis start-ups that attend events like business expos, local meet up groups, festivals etc. can find a whole lot of other opportunities. However, approaching other professionals at these events is a skill that not many ‘newpanuers’ or start-ups understand. The best networkers provide value to others first, and in return for providing this value, ultimately get more value in return. Remember, networking is a long-term strategy that shouldn’t be sought out just to make an immediate gain. The goal is to create as many resources and connections as possible that can naturally lead to a sale vs. instigating one.Even at the California Cannabis Business Expo, Karson Humiston stated that she would make herself go to 6 networking events a week when she first started her company - Gradjuana. With a few years of dedication, a growing team, and a new brand, she is now the President of Vangst - one of the leading staffing agencies in the Cannabis sector. With the help of her talented staff (who are required to attend at least 2 events a week), Ms. Humiston continues to leverage networking events as a way to successfully grow one of the largest staffing enterprises in the industry.
Have Confidence and NEVER Doubt Yourself!
Starting a business is a lot of hard work but making it grow requires determination and dedication. Every entrepreneur has their bad days and sometimes you might feel like just throwing in the towel altogether. But, don’t. If you believe in it, go for it. Despite the risk and hoops, you’ll have to jump through, never give up. As the industry continues to grow, the need for more businesses will too. In the end, it’s up to people like us to make Cannabis a positive and successful niche to start a business in.