Have you planned to avoid these missteps when selecting cannabis consulting services?
The cannabis consulting space has become inundated with new participants from a diverse array of backgrounds. Some specialize in the cannabis business, cannabis marketing, cannabis SOPs (cannabis standard operating procedures), cannabis cultivation, cannabis extraction, and cannabis regulations. Unfortunately, the marijuana industry is very attractive and under-qualified consultants can easily make money off of naïve business owners and investors.
Some cannabis consultants are charging astronomical rates for basic information that is freely available online, others may overreach their area of expertise and offer services such as cannabis SOPs without an understanding of the regulatory framework they need to adhere to. In these situations, there may be major legal consequences that arise in addition to financial loss.
Cannabis consulting can also be extremely valuable when obtained from reputable sources that have a deep understanding of the marijuana business. So how do you find a good cannabis consultant? And when do you really need a cannabis consultant?
When to Invest in Cannabis Consulting
Cannabis consultants can help through every stage of becoming a licensed producer. They may help you write your cannabis business plan, apply for micro cultivation licenses, assist in commercial grow room design, and help you create a greenhouse management system.
Having a cannabis consultant to help walk you through the licensing process is a great place to invest. In order to be a licensed producer, it is essential that the license is obtained, and the core documents required by Health Canada (or other federal/state marijuana enforcement agencies) are well written.
Becoming a licensed producer is no easy task. Many enter into this endeavor without a background in quality assurance or horticulture. A good cannabis consultant will be able to provide reliable and trustworthy information where your knowledge is lacking and will take the time to educate you for the future.
While horticultural consultants and master growers can have great ideas for commercial grow room design, it is essential to first understand your needs for a legally compliant facility design. The right cannabis consultant will understand this and help guide you to resources that will set you up for success.
A good cannabis consultant will be able to provide reliable and trustworthy information where your knowledge is lacking and will take the time to educate you for the future.
Tips for Finding the Right Cannabis Consultant
Plan Well in Advance
Before hiring a cannabis consultant, you should be planning and thinking through as much of your vision as you can. This will set the stage for you and the consulting team to kick off your discussions efficiently. This will allow for detailed and specific analysis of your business needs in order to set out a consulting plan with timelines. Be sure that you and the consultant both understand how much time will be dedicated to you as a client, and what each of you will be responsible for delivering.
Communication is Key
Consulting is a collaborative endeavor that requires clear and open communication. A good cannabis consultant should be willing to provide you with phone and email support, as well as possible on-site interactions. Not all cannabis consulting will require a person to be on-site, but their willingness to be there for you and your business is vital. Good consultants have a customer service mentality that puts your satisfaction before their fees.
Niche Consultants for Specific Needs
Some cannabis consultants market themselves as industry experts that can tell you everything you need to know about everything. It is much more efficient to work with consultants based only on your specific needs. Consultants that specialize in specific segments of the cannabis business are more likely to have deep understandings of that specific area and are more likely to keep up with changes to those specific areas. The GrowerIQ team partners with leading experts in the industry to make sure you always get timely advice from reliable sources.
Hiring consultants for your specific needs is like hiring employees for specific positions. Some consulting agencies offer teams of diverse experts while other consultants work independently in their specific areas of knowledge. In either case, be sure to hire the right consultant for the specific project you need to be completed.
Beware of Equity Deals
Equity trading is becoming more and more common in the cannabis industry, but you should be suspicious of consultants that want equity for payment. Giving equity as payment could violate laws and presents a large conflict of interest for consultants that may be working with competitors. Consultants are usually paid by the hour or by the project or milestone. It is unusual and not advisable to trade equity for consulting. Every consultant should be able to provide you with clear and transparent rates and details of what is included in their quoted fee, and what extra charges may occur.
How to Prepare for a Cannabis Consultant
When you are well prepared you will get the most out of cannabis consulting. Cannabis businesses are complex entities that need to meet strict legal and regulatory compliances along with basic business needs like managing a supply chain, marketing and sales, production, and warehousing and transportation of products.
The first step in preparing to hire a cannabis consultant is to do your homework! Take the time to carefully read through all of the regulations that pertain to your cannabis business. If you are consulting with a master grower, they may have wonderful ideas, but those ideas may not be the most functional when it comes to meeting regulatory requirements. Having a good understanding of the legal environment your cannabis business exists in will help you think critically about the many ideas consultants may have for you.
Along with reading up on regulations, you should also read up on the cannabis plant itself and the various cultivation methods that exist. Understanding growing methods and how lighting and environmental controls work will help you collaborate with the consultant. There is so much amazing technology and innovation in the cannabis space, but understanding the basics will give you a baseline understanding that will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed with information.
The second step in preparing to hire a cannabis consultant is to have questions prepared. As you do your homework, there will be terms and processes that you don’t fully understand. You may want to ask a few of these questions to help you vet potential consultants, and you will definitely want your consultant to help you understand all of the basic requirements of regulations, cultivation methods, and business operation needs.
Lastly, have a clear plan for the consultant. If you are hiring a consultant to design your Quality Management System, detail what SOPs are needed at a minimum, what validations are needed, and what contract laboratories you plan to work with. For a horticultural consultant, you will want to have researched production costs and supplies and know how you plan to grow.
The more groundwork you do, the more the consultant is able to do for you. In some cases, doing your homework, having questions prepared, and having a clear plan can expedite the consulting process and save time and money. This preparation will also help you identify your specific needs so you are sure to hire the right consultant.
Leveraging Cannabis Consultant Experience
Cannabis consulting can help you navigate the highly regulated cannabis market to design a strategic cannabis business that is set up for success. Whether you are a new cannabis start-up or a seasoned cannabis business, consultants can help you to reduce operating costs, increase profit margins, and build a profitable cannabis business that has long term growth.
Clients in both the medical cannabis market and recreational cannabis market can both benefit from utilizing cannabis consulting to help acquire cultivation licenses, build cannabis facilities, augment staff, and optimize operations and technology. Cannabis is unlike any other product, and what you don’t know can be disastrous for your business. Working with an experienced consultant ensures your knowledge gaps are covered.
Consultants will help ensure you have proper facilities, quality systems, and infrastructure to meet your business needs at any scale.
The Consulting Process
The consulting process begins with brainstorming to identify areas where you can work together with a cannabis consultant and create a clear scope and consulting plan. Here are some areas to consider utilizing a cannabis consultant:
- Market Analytics and Cannabis Marketing Plans
- License Application
- Creating a Cannabis Business Plan
- Planning your Cultivation Vision
- Optimizing Operations
- Business Expansion
- Safety and Security Plans
- Facility Design
- ERP Software Set-up
- Data Analysis
- GMP Validated Software
Cannabis Business Licensing
Getting started in the cannabis industry can be intimidating! In addition to the normal challenges any new business faces, cannabis business licensing can create its own challenges. Seed-to-sale consulting can make sure you are ready for all of the challenges you will face as a cannabis business owner.
Cannabis consultants can walk you through the licensing process whether you are looking for a micro cultivation license or looking to create a facility on a much larger scale. Consultants will help ensure you have proper facilities, quality systems, and infrastructure to meet your business needs at any scale.
Compliant and Profitable Grows
You should consult with an expert before you go out and hire a master grower. The right consultant can make sure your master grower is a true master that can optimize the quality and profitability of your crops. There are many claiming to be master growers, but a consultant can help you understand what qualifications key staff members like master growers really need to have. Your cannabis business may not even truly need a master grower when it has strong systems and operating plans in place.
Cannabis Consulting from GrowerIQ
GowerIQ has a team of experts in every area of the cannabis business. They are able to help you write your cannabis business plan, walk you through the cannabis licensing process, and help your business flourish once it is up and running. Working with GrowerIQ cannabis consultants can help avoid mistakes and get your cannabis business up and running as fast as possible.
With GrowerIQ cannabis consulting you will have a partner that helps create an effective, efficient, and compliant cannabis business plan, and offers ongoing operational support. GrowerIQ will ensure your business keeps pace with innovations, changing laws and trends, and is utilizing the best practices for the cannabis industry.
Find Out More
GrowerIQ has a diverse team of industry leaders that can help make your cannabis business plan a reality. Find out more on our Seed for Success consulting program, and whether it fits your project needs. We're here to help! Start by filling out the form below, or chat with us to the right.
GrowerIQ leverages proprietary machine learning algorithms to improve facility automation and provide producers with insights to improve quality and consistency. GrowerIQ is changing the way producers use software - transforming a regulatory requirement into a robust platform to learn, analyze, and improve performance.
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