As a cannabis consultant, BeGreenLegal receives many inquiries from all sorts of people looking to make their vision of operating a legally compliant cannabis business a reality. While some are just starting out and we are their first call, others tell us of their experiences with other consultants, some of whom have helped significantly with certain tasks but fell short of understanding the big picture, while others have not had the appropriate technical expertise. The following nine considerations summarize how our cannabis consultants would approach hiring a consultant to obtain a cultivation license or dispensary license in California.
#1 – Are they knowledgeable about your business?
Many people these days call themselves cannabis consultants and may have great skill sets in areas that lead them to believe they can help you. However, are they familiar with your business and what it takes for you to operate successfully? Our cannabis consultants meet people in the cannabis industry every day who have at one time or another worked with a consultant… examples include attorneys, engineers, architects, cultivation consultants, and marketing consultants. Only a small fraction of individuals in the cannabis space have spent the time to understand in detail what issues they face and who, if not themselves, may be the best person or entity to develop an effective solution.
#2 – Do they have a vision for how your business fits into the industry?
Any cannabis consultant you talk to will tell you he or she is good at what they do. The opposite is simply not an option, or they would be out of business. Deciding if they are a good fit for you is largely dependent on whether they have a clear vision for achieving your goal, whether you are setting up a marijuana dispensary, cultivation, manufacturing, or distribution business. As an example, our cannabis consultants regularly take on clients who are frustrated with receiving an incomplete notice or rejection letter from a public agency after paying their attorney thousands of dollars to prepare a business plan or application package. Before hiring your next consultant, ask them what a solution to your business goals looks like? Will there be any pitfalls to avoid in developing this solution? How would they recommend starting down the path toward that goal? What sort of guarantees or likely outcomes do they provide? They need to be able to identify and walk you down a clear path, or your time and money will likely be wasted on them.
#3 – Are they familiar with the steps you need to take to set up your business?
Similar to our last point, the cannabis consultant you select should not only have a vision for achieving your goals, but also be able to develop and implement a clear, detailed, and organized plan for doing so. Our cannabis consultants provide our clients with a thoughtful and detailed proposal that identifies each step of the entire process for achieving a particular goal, whether that is developing a business plan, obtaining a permit, or cultivation or dispensary license in California. We also provide upfront costs if they are known, or at least cost ranges for what our clients can expect so they can plan better and understand the level of effort needed to reach the finish line. We recommend looking for similar feedback from any cannabis consultant you consider hiring.
#5 – Are they organized?
How organized is the cannabis consultant you are considering? From the first time you engage this person, there are many queues that will help you discern how well they work and, while organization does not necessarily indicate a person’s intelligence or experience, it will give you an idea about how they will handle your project. As organization is a significant factor in being able to achieve goals in a timely and efficient manner, we recommend evaluating your prospective cannabis consultant in terms of how they approach you.
#6 – Do they market their own business well?
Similar to our previous point, our cannabis consultants recommend assessing your prospect’s ability to market their own business to you and others. Our experience in setting up cannabis businesses has taught us that being able to sell the idea with an appropriate level of detail to neighbors, community members, local governments, and state agencies will drastically improve your chances of successfully doing so.
#7 – Do they have experience working with similar businesses?
Although the legal cannabis industry is new, most consultants who know what they are doing have a range of experiences from within, as well as from similar businesses in other industries. Ask the marijuana consultant about past projects and success stories. Were they related to cannabis? If not, how do they relate to your needs? If they suggest a particular skill, piece of equipment, or technology, learn how they have used it in the past, how well it worked, and why they want to use it with your project. Do they have photos, graphics, reports, or example text from other projects? Do they have testimonials from other clients to share?
#8 – Can they get things done?
Many consultants are good at talking about their business and how successful they have been. But when all is said and done, there is usually more said than done. We have provided the following points to determine whether a consultant can get things done for you:
- Before meeting the consultant, review their website and other marketing materials so you know who you are dealing with. Pay attention to the information they provide and whether it is relevant and specific to the work you need them to perform. While generic descriptions and graphics may be a sign that they are busy, it could also mean they are disorganized, or cannot get to the finish line.
- When first meeting, you can learn a lot by whether they are on time, how organized they are, and how they handle your meeting. Have they taken the time to learn about you? Are they prepared and speak specifically about how they will handle your project needs, or do they only answer questions with generalities?
- Once they provide you documentation about what they will do for you, it is important to read and understand this material. A lot of consultants will give you canned proposals that are not specific to your project, or they may be disorganized, with no clear path to the goal you have already discussed.
- If you hire a marijuana consultant, pay attention to their performance, timeline, and how much they are billing you. Each can be easily measured by comparing the proposal or work plan to how the work is done using spreadsheet.
#9 – Are they able to itemize costs?
Last, but certainly not least, our cannabis consultants at BeGreenLegal try hard to provide our clients with the level of service they are paying for. We suggest looking for the same diligence and integrity from other cannabis consultants. Anecdotes from our clients have indicated that some consultants are realistic with their fees, while others charge exhorbitant or blanket costs with little to no justification. Still other cannabis consultants who may not really know what they are doing or are trying to lure clients may tell them obtaining their cannabis cultivation license or dispensary license is easy, or will not cost that much in time or money. Our recommendation is to find a consultant who is realistic, fair, and knows how to get the job done for a fair price. No one benefits in the long run from being cheap and few end up at the finish line they envisioned by just throwing money at a project.
Our marketing consultants have told us to always leave our blogs with a call to action. Since we believe in hiring good consultants and doing what they say, here it is:
Before you hire your next cannabis consultant, we recommend you take your time, do your homework, ask questions, understand what they are proposing, expect that it will cost you some money, and then call us! We are happy to provide you with a free half hour consultation at our office or by phone.