Need to Hire a Marijuana Consultant? Keep These Five Factors in Mind
As cannabis becomes legal for medicinal and recreational use in more jurisdictions, start-ups and established suppliers are turning to business consultants. The goal is to hire marijuana consultants who can assess business models and position their clients for growth in what’s a truly booming industry. The thing to remember is that everyone who proclaims themselves consultants has the qualifications to move your company in the right direction.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of wheat amongst the chaff. Your job as a business owner is to focus on consultants who truly know what they are doing and happen to be interested in more than grabbing some quick bucks and moving on. That means you must know how to qualify a consultant before unleashing the purported professional on your unsuspecting company.
How do you qualify a marijuana consultant? Much of the work is similar to qualifying any type of business consultant. Put these five suggestions to work and you are much more likely to come up with someone who understands the industry, the challenges, the opportunities, and what it will take to position your company for stable growth.
Identify What You Need in a Consultant
Don’t be dazzled by a well-known brand in the consulting world. As great as the brand may be, that doesn’t confirm they have the experience or the expertise to help you become more successful in the cannabis market. Always confirm that the consultant you are considering does know a bit about the industry.
Be aware of consultants who claim to be familiar with all facets of your industry. Some do indeed have what it takes if your company focuses on cultivation. Others will lean more toward refining a distribution network or operating a series of dispensaries. Be leery if the consultant claims to know all about every facet of the industry. While there are some out there who have this type of wide experience, they are few and far between.
References Are A Must
You can bet that a true consultant will have a qualified list of references to provide. Qualified means that the consultant has asked for and received permission to utilize that prior client as a reference. It will come with all the contact information you desire: name, job title, phone number and an email address.
Once you have the references in hand, follow up with each one. Listen closely to the responses that you receive. Your goal is to learn the good, the bad, and the indifferent about how the consultant works. If the critique is nothing but glowing, be on your guard. Even the best consultant may have a bad day and not get something done on time. What you want to confirm is that the consultant does deliver, does listen to the client, and does come up with strategies that make a positive impact on the client’s operation.
Does the Consultant Make Time for the Client?
Consulting of any type is an intense process. It means a lot of hands-on work and quite a bit of communication with the client. Some of that communication can take place in a virtual environment, but it also requires face to face discussions and observations. In order to find out if a consultant truly considers a client to be a priority, you want to learn a bit about the essentials of his or her approach.
The bottom line is this: if the consultant tends to manage most of the process from afar, never talks to your employees and is hard for you to reach, you’ll end up with little to no benefits from the business relationship. On the other hand, if the consultant has definite processes for returning communications in a timely manner, makes time to meet with you in person as well as via web or audio conferences, and ensures you are updated on progress on a regular basis, that professional may be the right one for you.
Give Careful Consideration to the Terms of Payment Requested By the Consultant
One approach that seems to be gaining steam among marijuana and other types of consultants is receiving some type of interest in the business rather than cash. In other words, the consultant may request stock if your business currently issues certificates, or even some other means of receiving a portion of ownership in the enterprise. Even seeking some type of equity within the company may be on the table.
Think long and hard before you provide any consultant with partial ownership or equity in the business. Along with the legalities that could complicate the approach (more for you than for the consultant,) remember that the professional likely represents at least one of your main competitors. What if he or she owns interest in that company as well?
Your best bet is to arrange a simple payment for services rendered that leaves the company and it’s stock firmly in the control of yourself and your current stockholders. It’s cleaner, less complicated, and does not have the potential for trouble later on.
Make Sure There are No Conflicts of Interest
On the subject of direct competitors, you want to know that the consultant is not currently working with one of your main sources of competition. Aside from the obvious conflicts of interest that could arise, it’s too easy for the consultant to be spread too thin and end up not providing the quality support that you need.
Keep in mind the nature of the consulting will make a difference. For example, you may be looking for someone who can help you streamline a production process. If the consultant is working or has worked with a competitor to develop a plan for launching more dispensaries, that would not necessarily be a conflict of interest. You can find out this information without asking the consultant to breach any confidentiality that’s already established with the competitor.
Above all, don’t rush the process. You may be anxious to get started, but take all the time you need to find the right consultant. A little investment of time now will pay off in the way of superior results later on.