By Anthony Stevens, VP of Product Management, BioTrackTHC
When it comes to the cannabis industry, it’s difficult to even find an accurate comparison in business. Every business in this industry is effectively a startup in addition to the fact that we’re in one of the newest and fastest growing industries in the world; that makes it like a startup on steroids. To say it’s unpredictable and risky is an understatement.
Having been in this industry since 2010, I’ve seen businesses come and go, entrepreneurs rise and fall, and have made countless mistakes that have accumulated into valuable knowledge and expertise that can only be gained through first-hand trial and error. Since we’re all in this together and learning as we go, cannabis industry years are like dog years; a year of experience in this industry is like seven years in any other. Here are some things you need to know if you’re interested in a career in cannabis for the long-term:
1. Slow Down. This really goes for any industry, but it’s hyper-applicable in cannabis. Rapid growth is almost never a good idea because most markets are not going to scale at the pace of your business. The trick is to master your business before you start to pursue growth. Being a licensed operator in such a young industry, you’re not going to miss out on your share of the market if you don’t expand quickly enough. This has only just begun, so master your business and get ready to grow when the flood gates open (federal legalization, perhaps?). There are still a limited numbers of consumers, limited amounts of supply, and uncertainties like recalls, that can deplete your inventory overnight. Stay stable while we wade through this awkward phase of uncertainty and unpredictability and just be prepared to move when it all happens.
2. Compliance. Compliance. Compliance. Over three years into recreational programs and adult-use states are still changing their compliance laws and requirements on a regular basis, let alone all the states that are yet to implement programs and learn for themselves. Staying ahead of this isn’t your top priority; it’s your only priority. You need to know how to survive before you can thrive. Pay close attention to your state’s legislature because it’s the only way you can operate without risking it all.
3. Evaluate Your Partners. The “Green Rush” is what everyone calls it. People are flocking to this industry in the hopes of becoming a millionaire without having to lift a finger; those of us in this industry know that’s not how this works. Everyone who has gotten this far has undoubtedly had to put in serious work, so don’t let others come in fresh and take advantage of your hard work and success. If you’re going to partner with a company, it should be a mutual interest that benefits both parties equally.
4. Relationships Are Key. In such a young industry, everyone is finding their niche and doing so using completely unique approaches. Since this is all being done for the first time ever, it’s rare that two companies (even with the same product offering) approach their business in the same way. We’re all learning as we go here, so listen to what people have to say. Everyone in this industry knows something you don’t, and understanding the challenges faced by different businesses throughout the industry helps you to navigate it with efficiency and success, while helping to avoid some of the common mistakes they’ve already made.
At the end of the day, this isn’t about money for me, and hopefully most of you feel the same way. We’re here to change the world. Plain and simple. If you’re not in this to fight for the bigger picture, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. This rollercoaster ride has been the ride of my life and the best part is … it’s only just begun.
Be Ready for a Rollercoaster – I can’t stress to everyone enough how much of an emotional rollercoaster this industry is. You’ll feel every possible emotion on a Monday morning before you’ve even finished your cup of coffee. Then you’ll do it all again Monday afternoon. If you want this industry to succeed more than you want to find fiscal success, then this industry might be for you because we need more people who will do what it takes to make this industry thrive.