Business consulting in the Cannabis industry has experienced a rapid boom over the past few years, providing entrepreneurs with more than enough options to help their business grow. The only problem is, not all of these options are beneficial ones. As the industry continues to flourish, it has been attracting some not-so-qualified consultants, eager to make some quick green… and we’re not talking about weed (that’s right, they want your dollars).
The spectrum of consultants is all over the place. This could include owners from extremely successful marijuana business’ all the way to a person who simply took a week-long course on segments of the industry.
The good news is, there are plenty of experienced, reliable and fair consultants; it just takes the right precautions to find them. Even those that don’t have much experience with Cannabis can apply their highly-ranked business knowledge to the Marijuana industry effectively.
That being said, the pool of candidates is as wide as it is deep.
“Consultants are a lot like growers – everyone you meet says he’s the best in the industry,” said consultant Matt Cook, the former director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue Enforcement Group.
So how should you go about finding your perfect marijuana business consultant? Here are our five tips:
1. Request to See a List of Previous Clientele
Before signing on with your new consultant, ask them about their relationships with past clients. Much like buying a used car, it is wise to research the history. By asking for a physical list, this shows your potential consultant that you know what you are talking about and also gives you the opportunity to call up some of the previous clients; just like a new employer would call references from a resume. This may seem like an obvious first step, however, it is often neglected when business owners are either in a hurry or looking for the cheapest offer.
2. Think About Your Specific Needs
Too often, business owners seek the biggest name in consulting. For example, a company that claims to be a one-stop-shop for both dispensary and cultivation needs, may seem like they’ve “got it goin’ on.” Unfortunately, they are probably lacking knowledge in quite a few other areas. Take some time to decide what it is exactly that you need and then consider a niche market consultant for that specific skill.
3. Ensure Your Importance
As more and more states are introducing Marijuana laws online, existing consultants are turning to them for new business. This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, here at Online Marijuana Design, we have hopes that eventually the whole country will be able to partake in the Marijuana movement. However, since the consultant/client relationship can have such a heavy impact on the overall success of the business, it is best to choose a consultant who has time to meet face to face. Think of this as you would any other relationship in your life – if someone is always too busy to see you, then you probably aren’t that important to them. This does not have to be an immediate deal-breaker, as some veteran consultants have some decently set up satellite offices based in other states, but generally speaking, a quality consultant should be willing to spend some face time with you.
4. Don’t Agree to Parting With Equity Because it Sounds Easier
A growing trend is for consultants to ask for partial ownership or equity within the company. While it may appear to be the simplest form of “payment,” there are many red flags that lay ahead. First off, if they are part-owner in multiple similar companies, they are bound to run into some conflict of interest type situations at one point or another. As a business owner, you never want to wonder if your consultant is possibly harming you in order to benefit a competitor, and ultimately, themselves! Secondly, there is always a chance that these ownership stakes may violate local ownership laws. And finally, by following the traditional payment for services standard, you can be sure your consultant does not meddle with areas of the business he/she may not understand.
5. Ask About Your Competition
While it is nearly inevitable to find a consultant who hasn’t at least worked with a competitor in the past (or maybe even a couple current), it is important to make sure they won’t be spreading themselves too thin. Yes, you want a consultant with experience, but you do not want one who is balancing on the line of government restrictions for the number of business licenses. It can be a struggle to find a consultant who is not working with any competitors, but it is feasible. By doing so, you eliminate any possible conflict of interest scenarios, as mentioned above, as well as prevent any proprietary information from being distributed.