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Assembling A Dream Team: How to find the Right Cannabis Professionals for Your Business

The word of 2019 for marijuana business owners everywhere seems to be: scaling. But beware growing too big too fast, especially if you don’t have support already in place. Whether you’re launching a new marijuana business or are preparing to scale your cannabis company, assembling the right people for the right positions requires strategy.

If you’re wondering whether you’re ready to hire employees or contractors, consider whether you have the essential team members outside of your business already in place. This is your Dream Team, and when you’re ready to bring in talent, you’ll need their advice and support.

Find the right cannabis professionals to assemble your dream team.

1. Business Advisor

If this isn’t your first rodeo, you probably already know that having a business advisor in your corner is one of the most effective ways to avoid mistakes and grow sustainably. A business advisor can provide practical tips and actionable advice on everything from what business model to use, to how to price your products or services, to marketing best practices.

What to look for in a cannabis business advisor

First and foremost, look for a business advisor with experience in the cannabis industry, and ensure he or she is still actively engaged. This industry changes quickly, so having an accomplished business owner in the space to mentor your business is invaluable.

Choose someone you feel comfortable being open and honest with, but who will also push you outside of your comfort zone. A good business advisor will give you the tools you need, but won’t do the work for you.

2. Tax Professional

With the complex tax system in our country, getting financial and tax advice is critical for any business. But for growing companies in the cannabis industry, there’s another layer of complexity trying to navigate the various tax codes and restrictions. Search out a CPA, accountant, or tax professional who has done their homework on this burgeoning new industry.

What to look for in a cannabis tax professional

Look for a tax professional who is well-versed in cannabis laws and regulations as well as tax codes and requirements. Ideally, you want a cannabis tax professional with multiple years of experience and a strong understanding of the tax court decisions affecting marijuana businesses as well as cannabis-related tax codes like IRC 280E.

Choose someone who can provide numerous testimonials from other marijuana businesses and proven track record of supporting their clients — especially if audited. A good cannabis tax professional will provide both service and education about their expertise to their clients.

3. Cannabis Attorney

Everything is changing at breakneck speed from laws and regulations to licensing requirements. What works one year will change the next. What happens in one state is totally different from another. So, you absolutely need an experienced cannabis attorney to help you set your business up correctly, protect from litigation, and advise you on the ongoing changes.

What to look for in a cannabis attorney

Look for a licensed attorney with state-specific experience in the cannabis industry. You’ll need advice on business, contract, real estate and employment law as well as general counsel on marijuana related issues.

Choose a cannabis attorney who has dealt with regulators, developed cannabis business deals, submitted licensing applications, and has great communication skills. You want to work with someone who has a strong understanding of medical and recreational differences in law, and can clearly express them to you.

On a personal note, I highly recommend you choose an attorney who understands and believes in your company’s vision. Start with a free consultation to ensure a good personality fit.

4. Compliance Consultants

With all of the red tape, you’ll want all the help you can get navigating all of the moving parts of this often convoluted system. Cannabis compliance consultants tend to operate grey space between attorneys and business advisors. While there’s certainly overlap between what a compliance consultant or firm will provide such as with licensing applications, they can also support business owners with facility design optimization, operations standardization, and business development.

What to look for in a compliance consultant

Look for a consultant or firm who is able to support you in your main state of operation. But beyond their experience in your state and the cannabis industry at large, you want to scrutinize the services they offer to ensure they align with your company’s goals and future plans.

Choose a compliance consultant or team with case studies and client testimonials exemplifying the kind of service and quality of work you’ll receive. Consultants can make a dramatic impact on your business, either positively or negatively, so take your time during the interview process to vet every single candidate.

5. Expert Team Members

With the above positions in place — especially cannabis attorney, business advisor, and tax professional — it’s time to start adding team members to your internal operations.

Look for experts that are specific to your niche in the industry and type of business. Employees who may have little or no experience in the cannabis industry, but have experience in other regulated industries like health care, manufacturing, and others can bring a substantial skill set to the table. For entry-level positions like Budtenders, Growers and Retail Managers, it may behoove you to bring in novices without industry experience, so that you can train them according to your values and company policies. When it comes to executive and technical positions like Master Grower and Extractionists, choose experienced professionals who will bring their education and expertise to your company.

Next month I'll cover the 3-Step Process you'll need to take as you begin adding contractors or employees to your support staff.

In the meantime if you need help putting together your Dream Team, feel free to schedule a free informational call and I can help you get started.

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