Last Sunday I did a live Instagram story with Sibohan Danger Darwish of @grow.sisters A series known as #HighNoonSunday We talked about 280E (of course), a bit about my background and why cannabis CEO’s/Founders/Farmers need accounting & finance help along this crazy path to legalization and normalization. In advance of our discussion I was asked to send along some notes; Who You Are, 3 to 5 things about Alice & Fran and how to reach me. I realized this is probably the most succinct, yet comprehensive, overview of the firm and myself and that it would make a wonderful blog post.
Who You Are -
Erin Rulli, founder of Alice & Fran, a cannabis exclusive accounting & finance firm. Massachusetts transplant currently living in Los Angeles, very much enjoying the SoCal lifestyle and having access to so many beautiful places within a short drive. I'm a dog mama, animal rights advocate and total nerd. My hubs and I met in college, we'll be married 20 years in June and are celebrating by attending our first Meadowlands weekend. I abstained from cannabis for 19 years, college to July 2017 when I got my medical license to try to manage some work related anxiety. Between adopting a more active lifestyle, going vegan and incorporating cannabis into my life I feel better now than I did in my 30's!
3 - 5 things about A&F
1. Firm is named after my grandmothers, two women who were completely different but both had a huge impact on my life. I don't believe Fran ever used cannabis but it's a known family "secret" that Alice smoked a bit during her battle with cancer. I like to think they'd get a kick out of my cannabiz being a named after them. Given that I've put their names on my "brand" I'm 100% committed to operating on the principals of being responsive, accessible and reliable with expert knowledge on proper cannabis accounting.
2. I have 15 years of progressive finance and accounting experience in the legal, hospitality and food manufacturing industries, I've completed the Accounting For Cannabis program through DOPE CFO (first/most well known/comprehensive course) and have a 200+ person network of cannabis industry trained CPA's, MBA's, bookkeepers, accountants, EA's and CFO's to support my clients. If I can't do it I know someone who can!
3. Corporate-to-Cannabis story, like many others, but I didn't make the move to cash in on the "green rush". I was tired of corporate life; the long hours doing busy work, the ridiculous politics, the rigid schedule and limited vacation time. I want my career to have more meaning to me and a positive impact for business owners that I work one-on-one with, not nameless shareholders and remote executives. Drawn to cannabis first and foremost to bring corporate-level finance to small to midsize businesses without the corporate BS. My way of getting back at "the system". Second reason is that women are well represented and respected in cannabis, I think this could be our industry. Finally, the community aspect is amazing. Really amazing. People are willing to help each other, to share, collaborate, etc.
4. Legalization has been more of a challenge than a blessing for many farmers/retail owners/manufacturers, we all know dozens of stories, and one of the biggest obstacles to success (aside from licensing) is IRC 280, the IRS code that prevents plant touching businesses from taking standard business deductions. The only deduction you can take is cost of goods sold and in order to take the maximum allowed you need to have consistent monthly accrual accounting and quarterly cost accounting. Cultivators and manufacturers are better positioned but there are a few strategies for dispensaries. I talk to people every few days who need these services but "can't afford them". You have to. You have to find the funds. If you don't you're risking paying higher taxes, paying IRS penalties and back taxes and reducing your exit value. Most of us are very aware of the situation and will work with you on price. People balk at my fees, but you're getting your own personal virtual controller/part-time CFO for a FRACTION of what you'd pay a direct hire. You can't make do with a $200/month bookkeeper and a CPA at year-end. You're missing everything in between (that monthly accrual accounting, monthly reporting, cash flow forecast, budget, etc.) and you just can't build a solid, profitable business this way.
5. You can't beat 280E. Anyone who tells you differently is wrong. You have to do the accounting correctly, minimize expenses where possible, build your brand, gain market share and be well positioned for expansion, exit, partnership when cannabis goes federally legal. At that point cannabis will be a "regular" regulated business like alcohol or tobacco and you'll have to compete on price, brand, market share, location, quality just like everyone else. You need to be ready! Your books and records need to be ready! Whether it's me (which I hope it is!) or another firm, please get someone on-board.