Many people go into cannabis assuming there is no way to fail. "Oh, the cannabis industry? It’s practically like printing money.  On one end, they have a point: the industry is certainly lucrative – it’s surpassed expectations and brought in more revenue than predicted (forget the millions, we’re focused on billions). But it’s also saturated: everyone wants to be buds with Mary Jane. As the industry brings in more money, its attraction will continue to grow and the number of cannabis businesses in existence will multiply. And this forces you to know what you’re doing. So, how do you succeed in weed? Just follow these steps.

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Find out what it’s really like

Cannabis plant in a grow-opIt’s easy to be enticed by the monetary potential of cannabis. We see news reports of how much money it’s bringing in and we think, ala Liz Lemon, “I want to go there.” But, before adding your hat to the cannabis ring, speak to someone who is there.

Cannabis may or may not be for you. It clearly comes with the potential of a big reward, but it also involves work and risk. In other words, ganja isn’t all glamor. Be completely certain that cannabis is your calling before you invest a dime in dime bags. 

Think small

“Thinking small” might be about the worst piece of business advice in the world. It’s contrary, in fact, to every inspirational poster in existence. We don’t want to think small; we want to dream big. But, when it comes to marijuana, more cannabis can indeed bring about more problems.

Large cannabis operations require a greater financial investment, more know-how, and more resources. They also bring about more headache. This isn’t to say you can’t succeed on a large scale, but, when starting out, try something smaller first. Succeed there and then build up.

Know the law

The cannabis industry requires a lot of complianceTo the consumer, cannabis laws come in two forms: it’s either legal or it’s not. From the business perspective, laws are anything but simple. Know the laws of your state and your city and know that regulations will change. Over the past few years, cultivators have seen authorities modify how cannabis can be packaged, tracked, tested, and distributed. You have no choice but to obey if you want to play the game.

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Know that you won’t be good at everything

Different areas of cannabis involve different skill sets. The person who’s an expert botanist and can make weed grow from a Chia pet planter might not be a business genius. The person who is excellent with finances may have no idea how to market their company. Know what you excel at and excel. Then hire the right people to help you with the other areas. If you don’t have all key pieces of your infrastructure in place, things may come tumbling down.

Learn as much as you can

You may know a lot about cannabis. You may belong to the right organizations and read the right journals. You may school your friends on Mary Jane trivia. None of this means you’re done learning. If you’re serious about the industry, be serious in your quest for knowledge. Talk to expert growers, consult market research, go to conferences – do whatever you can to make sure you know what you’re doing.

Prepare for money issues

Prepare for money issuesMany people who enter the industry find the biggest challenge in funding – they plan for this aspect, but not enough. Rather than looking at the big picture, they limit themselves to the small one, only planning financially for the bare bones of a business. Avoid this at all costs.

Instead, make sure your financial planning accounts for the unpredictable – price changes, regulatory changes, investors backing out, alterations to your marketing plan, pesky administrations, fierce competition, and a slug of other things. Whatever costs you’re estimating for your business, know that you’re – most likely – aiming too low. 

Scale back when necessary

A report from Cannabis Benchmarks found that the price of cannabis in major legal markets began to decline in 2016. This trend has continued into 2018. For growers, this kind of price drop requires scaling back – sure, you can grow more in an effort to sell more, but the price drop is the result of an already overabundance of cannabis. Being able to adapt to supply and demand is a major factor in whether or not your business will succeed. If you can’t scale back when it’s required, you’ll likely find yourself losing money.


Gone are the days when flowers ruled the cannabis world – people still buy them, sure, but they’re now only part of the puzzle rather than every piece. Cannabis users continue to chase higher highs, healthier options, and more convenience. Not only that, but many users are also after the benefits of cannabis that don’t involve getting stoned (hello, CBD!). Cannabis companies know this and they’re filled with innovative products as a result. If you want to flourish in this industry, your business must be too. 

Jumping into the cannabis industry is no way to make a quick buck. Yes, it’s financially rewarding, but it requires hard work, knowledge, sacrifice, and investment of your time and resources. And even then, turning a profit can take time. Pot requires patience – there’s a reason it’s a virtue.