In its formative stages, HighBridge identified several criteria it thought would be important for its business plan and model. Networking was at the top of the list: from a Founder’s personal relationships with Cannabis Retailers, Chemists, Growers, and Marketing gurus, to a solid investor base, distribution experts, other entrepreneurs, and the like. Because of the fragmented legal requirements each state presents, HighBridge also brought in an on staff lawyer and outsourced legal for everything from state compliance to SEC regulatory. We wanted to be a good stewards for the industry in general, and our sector in particular. To that end, a HighBridge Founder who has a long standing association with a key California cannabis industry advocates, also enlisted as a founding member of the National Institute of Cannabis Investors. And, finally, to bring an international flavor to the Highbridge network we are working relationships in Canada, Mexico and Russia.
Needless to say it was gratifying to see the HighBridge model affirmed by the following article which identifies four criteria for a successful Cannabis business: Networking, Regulatory Compliance, Advocacy and Diversity. From an exclusive interview with Lorna O’Hara, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Marijuana Retail Association, reprinted from Cannabis Profits Daily, June 16, 2019.
The New Jersey Marijuana Retail Association is a trade organization of responsible retailers organized in anticipation of New Jersey legalizing marijuana for recreational use. As you know, we’ve discussed how New Jersey could become a major player in the cannabis market not just on the East Coast, but throughout the United States.
Even if there’s still a little bit of a hold up in legalization for the Garden State, it’s all a question of “when” and not “if” the state allows recreational cannabis use.
That’s why we wanted to pick her brain on what it takes to run a successful cannabis firm to not only help those of you out there who are interested in starting your own marijuana business, but to also show you what she looks for in a good company.
Here is more from Lorna…
Networking is part of any businesses prescription for success. Specifically for the cannabis industry, the clues to the future exist now. Through interaction with individuals, either already in the cannabis industry or looking to get in, one is able to look at the forces that affect their businesses’ future.
Meeting people in multiple sectors of the cannabis industry enables you to conduct an environmental scan that focuses your business on what is relevant to its strategy and future.
Through building relationships and taking inventory on what is new, emerging, and important, scanning and trend analysis helps you reach consensus on your business direction.
Comply with State Regulations
Complying with state regulations is not a unique requirement carved out for the cannabis industry.
Adherence is of paramount importance for any business, especially an industry that is operating under a state and federal microscope. Businesses cannot pick and choose among the regulatory requirements.
The business must have procedures in place so that the business will be fully aware of compliance issues. Ultimately, a good program for managing regulatory compliance involves retaining a public affairs firm familiar with government operations.
As this new industry evolves, there will be regulatory modifications, additions, and possible deletions, and it is best to have an advisory arm navigating your business through the process.
Get Engaged in Advocacy
These are particularly exciting and frustrating times for the cannabis industry, in that the landscape is unclear and, for the most part, in the hands of state and federal governing bodies.
Most everything that happens in Congress and in your State Legislature will affect your workforce, your consumers, and your bottom line. Businesses that achieve legislative success are the ones driving home their messages through their government relations team, lobbyists, and grassroots programs.
Again, since the cannabis business is in its embryonic stage, the challenge is in anticipating next legislative steps, which is preferable to reacting. However, if governing officials don’t hear about your issue, it won’t be a priority for them, so developing a plan to engage and develop relationships is key for a successful future.
Assemble a Diverse Team
Diversity and inclusion has earned its place as a key business strategy in any industry that focuses on sustaining successful growth and meeting societal imperatives.
Given our country’s evolving multicultural demographics, businesses now have the opportunity to expand their product to a multitude of markets and groups.
Assembling a diverse team with different skill sets and backgrounds increases the capabilities to understand larger pools of consumers, as well as the importance of investing in communities where it operates.
Given the social justice component associated with legalization, it is important that the industry as a whole makes diversity and inclusion part of their brand and business plan.