Back in 2000 I had the fabulous opportunity to start my professional life at The Boston Consulting Group as an administrative assistant supporting three teams; international accounting, financial planning & analysis and internal audit. Over the next nineteen years I went to business school, did two internships, and had a progressive finance career in food manufacturing, legal services and hospitality. I’ve done everything from journal entries and reconciliations to budgeting for a $750M organization and implementing expense reimbursement software. I’ve learned so much along the way collaborating on projects with HR, Marketing, IT, Professional Development and Sales. There have been some great organizations and some not-so-great organizations, both important learning experiences. Most of my knowledge is directly or indirectly applicable to my new industry, cannabis. Looking back at the best roles I’ve had, there are three key elements that will guide a business on the path to success: people, product and profit. The right team, the best product and profit to reinvest in the business and invest in the community. For cannabis businesses the same principal applies, changing the product to plant.
People – First and foremost, having an A-team of the best professionals you can find in place is essential. The right fit is both cultural and skills -based. Every organization needs a Cannabis Attorney, Accountant and CPA to work with the executive team on compliance, regulations, tax planning, 280E and entity selection. One does not replace the other; few CPA’s do monthly accounting/reporting and an attorney should be the primary adviser on entity selection. Surround yourself with people who share your vision, have the right experience, and have the training and tools to get the job done correctly.
Plant – Everyone in the industry is somehow connected to the plant, as a cultivator, processor, retailer, distributor or ancillary business. Successful organizations are: passionate, educated and respectful of cannabis, whether that means regenerative farming, rigorous lab testing, stocking only quality brands or understanding how to help clients transition from gray market sellers to licensed business owners. The CEO’s and COO’s building the cannabis industry have the unique opportunity (obligation?) to not only normalize cannabis but to also ensure that eco-friendly and sustainable practices are developed for every vertical.
Profit – There is a lot of criticism directed at folks getting into cannabis to cash in on the “green rush”. They are in for a rude awakening . Cannabis is not for the faint of heart; it’s new, complex, highly regulated, federally illegal and slowly gaining social acceptance. That doesn’t mean making money, being profitable, is a bad thing. Profit is good, amazing even! Profit allows cannabis business owners to: pay a living wage, expand operations, develop new products, create jobs, prioritize charitable giving, and support the local community. To give your company the best chance of being profitable in the current environment you must (at a minimum): closely manage expenses, have proper cost accounting, be local/state/federally compliant, and establish yourself as a leader in the market.