What Separates “Good” Cannabis Companies From “Great” Ones?

In this article we take a look at some of those qualities that separate great cannabis companies from the rest of the pack.

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    There are thousands of good cannabis companies out there – with more launching everyday as more states move to legalize marijuana.

    But “good” simply isn’t good enough – at least if you plan on staying in business for the years – or decades – to come.

    While good companies often manage to survive for a while, it’s the great ones that stick around – with great products, loyal fans, and a strategic game plan for long-term growth and profitability.

    But what, exactly, makes a cannabis company great, as opposed to just, good? The short answer is, the same factors that make any company great. Below, we’ll take a look at some of those qualities that separate the true greats from the rest of the pack.

    Growers Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365Growers Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365

    Good Data and a Centralized ERP System

    First of all, any great business is built on a foundation of reliable data and a unified, intelligent ERP system. We’ve talked about this before in another post about Microsoft Dynamics and digital transformation, but the point is, without these core components in place, you won’t be able to achieve any of the other “great” qualities on this list.

    Cannabis is a complicated space. You’ll need complete visibility, AI-powered insights and automations, and an end-to-end system to win in this market. This is essential for everything from tax compliance to predictive modeling to identifying new business models or investment opportunities.

    But it’s not enough to put any old system in place. Great companies carefully choose a core ERP and the integrations and customizations that align with their business needs. Ultimately, it’s about installing the technology that executes on the strategy and drives lasting success — the technology itself is just an enabler.

    Culture is a Priority

    Company culture is a big deal – even more so than data and technology (it’s just that, in most cases, you need to look into the data to make any improvements to company culture). See, while those elements set the stage for smart decision-making and strategic growth, it’s important to remember it’s people – not technology – that make those achievements a reality.

    Culture is central to delivering great products, services, and experiences. It’s an enabler for change, innovation, and adaptability. Most importantly, it also sets the stage for retaining employees (and the knowledge they develop during their tenure), skills development, and initiatives like making data literacy or digital transformation everyone’s responsibility.

    Despite its importance, many organizations either treat culture like it’s an afterthought — or they just flat-out get it wrong.

    Often, you’ll find companies operating in “cool” industries (think – tech, media, entertainment, and now, cannabis) have this mentality like “you’re just lucky to be here” – as though clout and a few choice amenities alone qualify as “culture.”

    A few key elements that will help you create a great company culture:

    • Put it in writing. Make sure you document your mission, values, and your brand identity, market positioning, and narrative. Ultimately, everyone should be on the same page about what you do, why you do it, and who you serve.
    • Employees must feel valued. Happy employees are invested in their work and their customers — and tend to stick around for a while. Reward people for their work, help them grow professionally, and create a space where everyone’s voice matters — regardless of their position in the org chart.
    • Communication is key. Everyone must understand their responsibilities in context with the bigger picture. Make sure you document all responsibilities and standard processes. Make time for regular check-ins, capture feedback, and work together as a team to surface improvement opportunities and explore solutions.

    These “tips” are just a starting point – but the idea is, you want to make sure that you put just as much work in defining and refining your culture as you do your business strategy or your products.

    Laser Focus on the Customer

    The novelty of legalization has worn off for many consumers (at least in states like CA or OR where recreational use has been legal for a few years).

    As such, it’s no longer enough to provide access to cannabis products – businesses need to provide better experiences – through branding, content, and, of course, great service. These days, legal brands are recognizing that their products have the ability to provide new experiences and nurture deeper connections with their customers.

    It’s a similar approach to some of the strategies we’ve seen with other consumer brands in the wellness or lifestyle space.

    Kiva Confections Camino
    Sourced from https://www.kivaconfections.com/brand/camino

    However, what makes cannabis unique is, there’s this ability to tap into the inherent effects of different strains and products and reinforce a specific feeling or emotional response with the right branding.

    For example, Kiva Confections’ Camino line uses custom combinations of CBD, THC, and CBN to create different experiences with its edible gummies.

    You’ll also want to consider the online experience – in context with your business model. How will you engage customers on your website? On your social media channels? Educational content? An online community? Interactive support? Self-service resources?

    Whatever the medium, consider how your knowledge might be used to enhance the customer’s experience with cannabis.

    For example, dosist focuses on creating cannabis pens with precise dosing. Each product has a name like “Bliss,” “Calm,” or “Sleep” that describes its intended effects.

    Image of dosist products
    Sourced from https://dosist.com/

    Now, if you click on any of the products, you’ll be taken to a second page that describes the formula and what it’s supposed to do – in a way that feels accessible, even if you’re completely new to the cannabis space.

    Here’s an example of what you’ll find on the “Sleep” page:

    Dosist Sleep Cannabis Pen
    Sourced from https://dosist.com/

    Your approach here needs to focus on understanding your customers, their needs, and taking their feedback to heart. You know, just like any other brand in 2022. 

    Get the Right Experts Involved

    Let’s be clear — the cannabis business is hard.

    Cannabis companies occupy this sort of Wild West space where they’re expected to develop innovative products and new business models. At the same time, they’re also expected to comply with changing legal and regulatory requirements, maintain certain quality standards, and follow a confusing patchwork of rules that dictate marketing and advertising copy, package design, and more.

    Naturally, all of these moving parts require specialized expertise. Part of the solution is getting the right people on your team — be it retaining a lawyer, outsourcing your content strategy to a firm that specializes in cannabis, or hiring an experienced quality control team.

    It’s also a smart idea to partner with other cannabis companies with complimentary products or a different set of skills — essentially pooling your resources to help each other be successful.

    For example, Cura specializes in high-quality oils for companies that make products containing those oils. They’ve specialized in developing high-quality oils for companies that make products containing those oils. So, if you’re say, making cannabis-infused chocolate bars or a line of vape pens, you can use the oils in those products, knowing they meet a certain quality standard, and focus on the parts of the process your company does best.

    Final Thoughts

    If you look at each item on this list, you’ll notice that none of them are unique to the cannabis industry. They’re essential ingredients for any “great” business, regardless of industry.

    That said, looking at these qualities in the context of running a cannabis business is important because it’s a new space transitioning out of its “wild west phase” and into the mainstream. As mentioned above, today’s buyers expect more than they did in the early days of legalization. And – cannabis companies need to step up their game – providing the same seamless, personalized experiences, great products, and consistent service that have been standard in other industries for years.

    Velosio is a certified Microsoft partner that provides specialized industry solutions for cannabis companies – as well as professional services firms, agribusinesses, and more. Book a consultation to learn more about our process, services, and how we support our client partners.