"It's important to honestly assess your business - recognize its strengths, weaknesses, and consider your short-term and long-term goals. Why are you in this business? What is your mission," ask Emma Chasen and Matt Taylor.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Information mined from consultants in the highly-competative cannabis space is gold.
Industry-specific experts are hired by entrepreneurs to offer guidance on starting or expanding their company. Consultants in the cannabis space range from cultivation, to storefront building, marketing, concentration, and entire brand building. For cannabis business owners who are just starting out, and who desire simply to up their commercial cannabis game, consultations are critical. Having a wise team who has been through the regulatory hurdles before gives your company a leg-up on the competition.
Cannabis consultants who are working in the space gift some pieces of advice for those entrepreneurs who may looking to hire a consultant themselves. These experts include craft cannabis brand expert Danny Murr-Sloat, the co-founder of AlpinStash; Kimberly K. Dillon, founder of Frigg as well as a consultant who helped launch household name brands like Papa & Barkley; Stormy Simon, a cannabis industry consultant to came to her former role of CEO at High Times from the C-Suite at Overstock.com; and more.
View our slideshow to find 8 pieces of advice from cannabis consultants for those seeking to work in the CBD and THC marketplaces.
"Do your research."
“First, it’s important to honestly assess your business — recognize its strengths, weaknesses, and consider your short-term and long-term goals. Why are you in this business? What is your mission? What are your needs that a consultant can help you fulfill? Then do your research, check out the consultant’s website and social media channels as well as any press or podcasts they have done. You want to make sure that your values and ethos align with the values of your consultant. Choose consultants that understand your “why” and can help you harness that into effective activation of your goals and mission. Choose consultants who are free with their time and also firm with their boundaries and communication. Mutual trust is imperative. Consultants and their clients must be able to work as a cohesive team, identifying each other’s strengths then delegating tasks, and deferring leadership decisions accordingly. These are the people who are guiding you in your ventures, so make sure the energy is right. If something feels off, it is likely this intuition will be proven true sooner than later.” — Emma Chasen and Matt Taylor, Founders of Eminent Consulting Firm
"Identify your target market."
“When seeking a consultant, especially within the SEO and Digital Marketing space, it is important that you know what your business is looking for and it's goals. SEO and digital marketing can get tricky with so many different platforms and methods to use, so it's important to be clear on your expectations, what you are looking for, and who your ideal client/target market is. Clear communication is one of the most important aspects of all business, but especially when you are looking for a consultant to expand your SEO and Digital Marketing. I recommend defining and identifying your target market before meeting with a consultant so you are clear with what your goals are and they can help you accomplish them.” — Leighana Lynn, SEO + Digital Marketing Consultant
"Find depth of experience."
Allen Hackett and Marie Montmarquet.
“Make sure to find someone with proven experience in the key performance indicators that your business is looking to accomplish. Cannabis is not a one size fits all industry, and you should educate yourself on all the professional services your business requires and make sure to find those with the depth of experience necessary.” — Marie Montmarquet and Allen Hackett, Founders of Legacy Coterie
Kimberly Dillon/Plant Prosper
“Interview consultants both for their skills and experience, but also for how they fit in your corporate culture. Being values aligned is key in any business, but especially in cannabis. It is important to vet, vet, and vet some more. Is their experience real? Do they have prior evidence of success? What is their reputation in the space? I firmly believe everyone in your company's value chain defines your company's culture and how you show up with your customers.” — Kimberly Dillon, Founder of Plant & Prosper — a Consulting Collective for the Cannabis and Hemp Industries
"Don’t keep burning through invoices."
“Consultants are supposed to provide knowledge or experience that the company does not have. The consultant brings that knowledge and experience to the team and the team is able to eliminate blind spots and create pathways to growth and/or improvement. Consultants are expensive and it’s easy to pick the wrong one, particularly if you’re new to the industry. Having experience in one industry does not necessarily mean it has value in cannabis. We’re seeing a lot of the same mistakes being made by newcomers that I made 5-10 years ago. Always work backwards from your goals and outcomes, then find the consultant who has the experience to make it happen for you. Meet with the consultant and if you’re impressed, try them out on a limited engagement first. If you’re not having a great experience with a consultant, move on quickly. Don’t keep burning through invoices. It’s important the experience be excellent for the client. Settle for nothing less.” — Andrew DeAngelo, Cannabis Industry Consultant and Strategic Advisor
"A history of success."
“When it comes to cultivation, vet any potential consultant, ask for references, look at their current and previous work/businesses and make sure their growing style/methods jive with what you want. Make sure they have a history of successful commercial cannabis experience. I have seen many business owners spend thousands and thousands of dollars on "consultants" who have little to no commercial experience. I have seen some of these businesses fail because of failed harvests due to incorrect or outdated advice, which cost them a small fortune.” — Danny Murr-Sloat, Founder & Craft Cannabis Cultivation Consultant at AlpinStash
"Ensure you actually like the person."
“Prior to seeking a consultant, you should first go through some internal discovery to understand your organization’s needs and consider if you truly want/need a consultant because hiring a retained and consultative partner is not the same as shopping for a vendor. Then, decide how great the economic pressures are and weigh them against what trade-off’s those economic constraints may mean in terms of the service level received and depth of expertise you are willing to pay for as a couple of examples. We also recommend that you find a group that has succeeded where you wish to go, regardless of the cost involved. In short, your third party consultant should be an absolute expert in their field. Last but not least, ensure you actually like the person/group you will partner with!” — Bryan Passman, Founder of The Hunter + Esquire
"You teach each other."
“Keep in mind that you’ll be teaching each other. It’s important to find an advisor or consultant that listens and responds to your business needs, one that doesn’t tell you what you’re doing wrong, but provides solutions for ways to do things right.” — Stormy Simon, Executive Coach, Strategist, Consultant
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