Responsibly Scaling Your Cannabis Business Is A Win-Win for the Whole Industry

The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

As the cannabis industry continues rapidly growing, we're continually learning how to scale cannabis businesses the right way.

As cannabis executive recruiters, we have a front row seat to how this is playing out. The reality of the cannabis industry is there's an ever-changing long list of to-do's. Cannabis businesses are doing their best to prioritize their battles, but they often don't have the resources to ensure they're operating compliantly and profitably. Forget time management — it's time triage.

It's our forte, at Hunter + Esquire, to jump in and guide companies through Human Capital scaling. By making smart, calculated choices, you can more effectively prepare for and execute monetization events such as M&A, going public, or raising private capital.

This starts with doing an internal assessment. Next, consult with experts and strengthen your team. Lastly, trust your team and let them perform. 

Get feedback from your team.

Before making any big decisions about where to bring your company next, consult the key team members you care to retain.

We recently helped a notable cannabis business scale from a slate of homegrown leaders to accomplished expert pros. 

The process involved regular consults with the founder/CEO to develop a c-suite roadmap. Then, we listened to the perspectives of key stakeholders. What did we find? A great company culture with ineffective collaboration between departments, inefficient operations, and lots of leadership skills gaps. 

From there, we advised the company on next steps and ran c-suite searches. Since we considered stakeholders' insights, the original team was proud to help the company grow. The team felt good about accommodating new, expert hires because they were pivotal in the process.

Hiring a strategic human capital management leader helps develop healthy employee relations practices, keep a pulse on your company, and get continual feedback from your team members.

Collaborate with outside experts.

Consultants see what you can't. It's easy to be blinded by your affection for your company, the team of great colleagues you've built, and the great successes you've had. 

When you're used to operating a specific way, you get comfortable. There's nothing wrong with comfort, until comfort becomes a barrier from scaling.

If you're ready to level up, you must pinpoint where there's room to grow. An outside expert steps in, assesses, brings limiting barriers to your attention, and then helps remove those barriers.

Take your time when hiring a consultant and vet for "fit" the same as you would for a full-time hire.

Hire strong employees.

Sounds simple, right? It's not. Stay true to your mission, vision, and goals. Avoid compromising your business by hiring for optics or friendship. Because the right team with the right skillset lengthens your growth trajectory.

The cannabis industry is rough-and-tumble gorilla warfare. So it's comforting hiring people you trust. But hiring a friend just because you trust them, or that person you met at a conference just because you like them, are a couple of quick-hire misfires. I'm not suggesting you never hire friends or to go on a firing spree, but it may be time to find new roles for your people and/or hire someone for a position above them. 

A personal connection with your new hire is ideal, and they must be a good cultural fit, but they must also be professionally qualified… Hire good people that are the best fit for the role. And use emotional intelligence and maturity to be sure you're sourcing the talent you desire.

Listen to the experts you hired!

You've hired expert consultants to help you build the best team. You've gone through the interview process and chosen the right candidate. Now, trust their expertise and let them do their job!

Don't invest in hiring an expert if you're not going to consider their input. If your new Chief Compliance Officer, with an impressive track-record of success, suggests pivoting towards a new compliance strategy … trust them and explore the option with gusto! This. Is. Why. You. Hired. Them.

Too often, we've seen companies spend so much money on a shiny new hire, only to waste their potential by not utilizing their skills. Not only are you doing your company a disservice, but the person is going to look at their non-compete, line-by-line, for a way out. They'll move on to a company that values them and trusts their expertise — they're not going to risk their reputation because you're choosing to ignore their expertise.

Cultivate your cannabis company culture.

A lot of this comes down to company culture. Since cannabis is a startup industry, people are used to the startup culture of making quick, reactive decisions, with minimal insights for reference. But the startup culture in the cannabis industry has become so normalized that it's now become an expectation. Which has led companies to not strive for anything more than being a semi-successful startup.

Since "we work hard in cannabis," many operators and brands slack on properly tracking elementary things like compliance, employee retention, customer satisfaction, the bottom line, and more… Do we really want the cannabis industry to continue producing non-compliant and unprofitable examples of how NOT to scale? Let's collectively get it together and strive for more. We can do better.

The importance of scaling your cannabis business responsibly.

We must start scaling responsibly for the good of the industry. Always scale with an eye on compliance, metrics, ethics, and integrity... because the industry's future is in our hands, right now.

If we want our industry to continue growing and succeeding to its greatest heights, we must improve. Ultimately, we're still federally illegal and we need votes. If cannabis businesses continue to scale haphazardly, we risk enabling investors, legislators, and the general (consumer) public to view the industry as a joke.

If our shared goal is to elevate the cannabis industry to a completely legitimate and thriving industry sector, then we need to make consistently smart, calculated choices to scale our businesses the right way.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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