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Building a Cannabusiness for the Long Haul

A solid foundation is key to longevity

A solid foundation is key to longevity

The Cannabis business is in a very exciting place right now. In the minds of many, it’s a nascent industry filled with endless opportunity – and in some ways that’s exactly what it is. Of course many of those who have been in the business for decades (or, in the case of some California growers, for generations) have a much different point of view. Unfortunately for some of these pioneers, version 2.0 of the cannabis business will soon force them to either make some significant changes if they want to remain captains of the very industry they took so much time and risk to cultivate. The good news is that many of these pioneers can and will succeed as the inevitable transformation  occurs.

Like it or not, change IS coming and large corporations will be playing a bigger and bigger role. However, the fact that many facets of the industry are still in a state of legal limbo means change isn’t going to happen overnight. There’s still a little time to adjust to “the new normal.” In fact, there’s still time to help define the new normal.

As Cody Bass, longtime medical marijuana advocate, grower and founder of the Tahoe Wellness Cooperative recently pointed out at the Northwest Cannabusiness Symposium, there are several things those who have been part of the industry for some time can do to make sure they continue to have a seat at the table. These include things like being a good neighbor, being involved with your community and running a reputable organization from “seed to sale.” He also recommends being compassionate and demonstrating through action that you’re in the business not just to make money, but because you genuinely want to help people. This is something an entity that’s only truly interested in increasing shareholder wealth finds difficult to fake.

This does not mean you must become a nonprofit cooperative or even focus on the medical side of the business to come out on top. Indeed, some of the most successful companies will cater to the “adult use” (a.k.a. recreational) market as it continues to grow – and that’s OK. You also don’t need to be an industry veteran – all sorts of people with general business acumen and a diverse set of experiences will bring new perspectives and ideas that are sure to catch on.

Regardless, as is the case in pretty much any industry, those who build the best brands will rise to the top. Building a brand means creating a commonly held perception of you and your organization. It means proactively developing the story of your business and then living that story so that others will reinforce it and build upon it.

How do you do that? For starters, you can do all the things Cody suggests. You also make sure you tell your story in a deliberate and consistent way – through your marketing materials, your social media activities, the way you and your staff behave and what you say to key industry influencers. If that’s something need help doing or if you’d like to learn more, give us a shout. That’s why we’re here.

Dean Rodgers

Dean has spent more than 25 years spearheading strategic communications campaigns for leading and emerging consumer and technology companies nationally and around the globe.

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