From the growers to the dispensers, the investors to the politicians, and the green in your bong to the green in their pockets, we're interpreting the detailed happenings in the budding wide world of business.
The cannabis industry has the unique opportunity of transitioning from more or less of a black market into a legitimate sector of the healthcare, industrial products, leisure, and sponsorship industries among other opportunities -- and more specifically, it's all happening under the public's watchful eyes. Despite the challenge of being a highly contentious subject with a shifty legality depending on where you are and who you're talking to, the industry as a whole has amazing potential. While aspiring entrepreneurs have to evolve their ways to fit into the legal atmosphere of marijuana, there are still some lessons from the cannabis black market lessons than can be gleaned for any successful and legitimate business. Check out five thoughts below:
1. Quality Matters (And Customers Will Pay For That Quality)
It doesn't matter if you're a street dealer in Brooklyn, a budtender in Denver, or Snoop Dogg's personal delivery service -- quality matters. The legal marijuana market will not made up of 15-year-old teenagers who will pay up for crappy Mexican brick weed as long as you promise them it isn't oregano. Real customers demand real quality. With more exposure and more legality, people will also become more educated and a lot of times they know what they want. Whether it is a mild hybrid, an aromatic indica, or Girl Scout Cookies (because they heard about it on a forum), you have to be able to produce quality product if you want to keep customers loyal and coming back to you. And if you've got the goods, they will pay.
2. Marijuana Is A People Business
We've all heard the jokes about the pot dealers who "just want to be your friend." Hell, most of you have probably had a dealer like that. But if one thing is for sure, it is that people who smoke pot like to talk -- especially while they're smoking. More so than probably any industry, the cannabis industry is a mix of a scientific community and a social club. People are constantly coming up with new methods, whether it be which soil to use for an outdoor grow, the best method for extractions and creating concentrates, rolling a joint, or even ingesting the smoke. Moreover, most everyone is interested in sharing and contrasting methods. If you want a thriving cannabusiness, it is essential to make those personal connections and for lack of a better term, don't be afraid to shoot-the-shit with everyone from new customers to your most loyal ones -- you might learn something new about what they want.
3. Know Your Market
No one likes to get ripped off, and that is all the more incentive to know your market inside and out. Unfortunately for a lot of cities in America, weed just costs more. It has a lot to do with where the pot is grown, how supportive your surrounding community is of cannabis, the legal atmosphere, and the demand. Buying in Nebraska just won't be the same as in California probably ever. That doesn't mean you should rip off your customers in Nebraska because you know their other options are limited, but you have to price your products correctly. Set a fair price and stick by it just like you do with the quality of your products.
4. Every Once In A While, Give Your Customers A Break
Slip your guys a new strain of kush that just came into town so they get a little taste. Give away a prototype of the newest model you're working on. Let just a few people in on the weird new product you're feeding your crops with. Hook them up! It'll set a good repertoire with your customers and keep them returning to you for the latest and greatest in the cannabis industry.
5. Integrate Vertically and Horizontally
My guy in California is constantly expanding his business and experimenting with new products, but what I like most about him is the inherent knowledge of what he's selling because he's had his hands in it from seed to smoke or from prototype to packaged product. When you're trying out a new strain from him, he knows what kind if lighting was used and if it was grown in a closet or garden. He's the guy that MacGyver'd a dab rig out of pieces in his garage...and then sold the model to his buddy who's into glassblowing and created a side business for the two of them. Don't be a solitary entity, expand both your products and your knowledge.
What do you think the most important qualities of a legitimate cannabusiness are? Comment below!