The cannabis industry includes a broad range of occupations. The most obvious and visible ones like budtenders, cultivation associates, security personnel, and extraction technicians serve the most common needs and help drive the industry, but there are a number of occupations that fall outside of the employee positions that work directly with cannabis and “touch the plant.” Many of the people who work in these other, ancillary roles have backgrounds and experience in other industries that make them valuable for promoting individual marijuana companies and the industry as a whole.
The wide variety of professional ancillary positions that serve the cannabis space and fill important niche needs include lawyers, realtors, marketers, accountants, copywriters, technical writers, product manufacturers, truck drivers, logistic experts, risk management professionals, visual merchandisers, graphic designers, packagers, software developers, administrative assistants, and many others. Many of these positions easily transfer to positions in a cannabis advisory firm.
The Cannabis Advisor or Consultant
The role of cannabis advisor or consultant is filling an important niche in virtually all of the legal cannabis states. In fact, many emerging start-up companies would have difficulty launching their businesses without guidance and support from a good team of advisors. Typically, a cannabis advisory firm consists of leadership of one or more people who have a successful background in cannabis themselves, which puts them in a perfect position to help other people accomplish the same level of success. These advisors speak from experience, which makes them indispensable to aspiring business owners.
The cannabis industry is heavily regulated, so negotiating all of the essential manpower and business components that are necessary for success is challenging. This is how cannabis advisors fill an important need. Their “been there, done that” confidence comes from demonstrated success in an unconventional business operation. Because individual states vary so much with their regulations, often a consulting company will specialize in helping cannabis businesses in one specific state or a few states, while others serve needs on a national level. The most common cannabis businesses that utilize advisors are cultivation facilities, medical dispensaries, adult-use stores, and concentrates manufacturing companies.
Factors Influencing Start-Ups
Cannabis-industry start-ups are facing more challenges today than in the past, which is part of the reason a good advisory team or consulting group is important. There are factors that critically influence whether an emerging start-up succeeds or fails.
The first and most obvious one is financing. Since cannabis is still illegal on the federal levels and national banks are required to be members of the Federal Reserve System and are regulated by the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC), very few of them are in a good position to provide financial services to marijuana companies. Most cannabis company start-ups rely on the financial services of credit unions or receive funding from angel investors and venture capitalists, some of whom take an active role in the company and others who are silent partners. There is a lot of money to be made in the cannabis space, so there are always people willing to invest, but those dollars are limited to those with the most compelling services and products.
Competition is becoming fierce for rival cannabis companies. The days of mom-and-pop stores are gradually becoming overshadowed by the larger businesses which often have chains and deeper financial pockets. These are the types of businesses that require less money and involve less risk because they are already established with a proven business model. This also make them attractive to cities when they offer business licenses for new cannabis businesses in their communities. If a company isn’t already established in the industry, it must have an extremely persuasive business application in order to receive serious consideration. Many aspiring cannabis start-ups had their business applications approved only through the help of a cannabis advisor or consulting company. These companies earn their income by taking the worry and stress of completing applications and establishing business best practices by utilizing their team of experienced professionals. Cannabis advisors are paid well for their services.
Are You a Good Fit?
Many people looking to work in the legal marijuana industry do not consider an advisor or consultant role as a realistic option, but many of them should. Those with experience at the management level in cultivation, retail, and manufacturing aren’t the only ones with applicable skills that make them valuable additions to a cannabis advisory firm. Other types of people are necessary as well.
Many professionals who already have educations and successful careers often can make a switch to cannabis without much difficulty. Those who have a background in communications, marketing, publishing, grant writing, proposal writing, graphic design, website creation and other disciplines are in great need and can become important players on the advisory team
A perfect example is a person with a technical writing background in either government contracting, public businesses, or the private sector. Before any cannabis company can open, it must have a thorough catalogue of documents detailing exactly how the company will accomplish the myriad operational tasks necessary for success. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Work Instructions (WIs), Associated Documents (ADs) as well as project and job descriptions must be written by skilled writers. What these writers need in addition to access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is professional cannabis industry training that provides an overview of the most necessary aspects of operations. While those who gained their experience inside the industry rely on direct experience while on the job, others must rely on proper training from an outside source.
Because security is an essential component of running a successful cannabis company, many former law enforcement and military personnel have relevant and transferable skill sets. The risk of theft or diversion is a nagging concern of many cannabis business owner, so measures and practices must be put in place to prevent or minimize it. Because dispensaries do much of their business with cash—largely because of banking restrictions—there is a huge potential for theft and diversion of both cash and product both within and outside the company. Cannabis is a valuable substance, and cannabis companies often employ people who enjoy it, so the threat of diversion looms large. The proper planning of security and surveillance measures require careful planning, and should be put into practice by teams who know security.
Those with backgrounds in accounting, law and compliance are in great need as well, because of the heavily regulated aspect of the industry. When it comes to advisors and consulting companies writing business applications for their clients, the advisory staff who are well versed in communications, technical writing, security, surveillance, law, and compliance all play an important part in the process.
Let’s use dispensary applications as an example. Various cities have different requirements for their dispensary business applicants, but most of the common components of a dispensary application are not only a detailed business plan with financial metrics but detailed plans for many other aspects of the business. Plans for security and diversion prevention, marketing, neighborhood enhancement and gentrification, community engagement and education, waste management, business location and maintenance, product procurement and testing, employee recruitment and training, business software, and facility design are just some of the many application sections that a city may require.
Essential Advisor Training
If you’re looking for a role in a cannabis advisory capacity, the training and courses offered by respected and legitimate cannabis colleges like The Cannabis Training University (CTU) will provide you with the means to gain the industry overview, expertise, and perspective that’s necessary to succeed. Training from a marijuana university is critical to filling in knowledge gaps and understanding the requirements and needs of an industry that’s specialized and continuing to evolve.
Since cannabis advisors employ not only seasoned cannabis pros but professionals with specialized skill sets developed in other industries, these companies usually have an interesting mix of employees. Some have a background in cannabis that eventually evolved into an advisor capacity, while others were skilled professionals who eventually decided to apply their skills to lucrative cannabis opportunities. Those entering the industry from outside roles will benefit greatly from industry training. Their jobs will require them to be aware of industry best practices and how the necessary pieces of a proper cannabis company fit into a cohesive whole. Knowing how dispensary, cultivation, and manufacturing professionals do their jobs is invaluable to those serving on an advisory team.
The certification you will receive from a respected cannabis training institute will look great on your resume and will prove that you not only have expertise in your specialized field, whether it be accounting, communications or another area, but you also have specialized knowledge in the cannabis space and how a successful cannabis company operates.
Ready To Improve Your Knowledge?
There is a strong need for trained professional to serve important advisory positions in the cannabis industry. Since many of these needs require skill sets that fall outside of those possessed by most cannabis company employees, industry-specific training is necessary for these people in order for them to understand operational aspects and routine procedures of the industry as a whole. Industry-specific training from a legitimate cannabis training university will supplement the specialized knowledge base of a cannabis advisory firm team.