Ready for a career in the cannabis industry? I’ve been a black market marijuana business entrepreneur for 25 years, but I’ve also helped people become successful in the legalized cannabis industry. Let’s take a look at what you need to know and do to become successful running your own marijuana business…

Create a Marijuana Industry Business Plan

Creating a business plan is the first step for any successful business, and especially in the marijuana industry.  There are many books about creating a rock-solid business plan. There are also classes offered by colleges, universities, and business consultants. I recommend you read at least three books on creating a business plan, and attend at least one seminar or college class.

The main thing to realize is if you don’t have a map, you’re not likely to arrive at the destination you want to get to. Create a marijuana business plan, tweak it when necessary, and follow it!

Understand Marijuana Industry Legal Issues

If you intend to do a marijuana business in a state where state marijuana law allows legal marijuana businesses, you have a way easier path to success than if you live in a prohibition state.

At present, the easiest states to start a cannabusiness are California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan. Each of these states has its own legal, regulatory, and bureaucratic complications, so you need an astute cannabis attorney to explain the state’s laws in depth.

In legal states, you have convenient access to cannabis attorneys familiar with state marijuana law. In prohibition states, you have little if any chance of starting a legal cannabis business, but an attorney can advise you of the risks of starting one anyway, and the likelihood and timing of when laws in your state might become more favorable to cannabis entrepreneurs. Note that marijuana industry attorneys often host live webinars and other events so you can access their wisdom, even from afar.

You really do need to consult a smart marijuana business attorney early in your cannabusiness planning process. In some cases, if you have a prior criminal record involving cannabis or other “drugs,” you can’t enter the legal marijuana industry. You want to know as much as possible ahead of time.

Understanding Marijuana Business Accounting & Banking

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions are hesitant if not prohibited from providing services to marijuana businesses because marijuana is illegal federally. This creates huge headaches and physical safety risks. There have been numerous robberies of dispensaries, growers and other cannabis entrepreneurs.

Running any business requires accounting knowledge, and many business owners hire professional accountants. This is especially useful in the marijuana industry. In legalized marijuana states, there are often financial regulations built into the legalization statutes and regulations that make accounting harder than it is for other types of businesses. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of individual accountants and accounting firms specializing in the unique accounting challenges you’ll face as a marijuana businessperson.

Envision Your Marijuana Product & Marijuana Brand

Tens of thousands of people grow, sell, process, retail, wholesale or otherwise participate in the legal and black market cannabis industry already, which means there’s plenty of competition for new cannabis entrepreneurs.

That’s why it’s essential that you envision a marijuana product and marijuana brand that will immediately have exclusive value, at least enough to guarantee profits that’ll make your marijuana industry venture worth doing.

My advice is to take a reconnaissance journey to the most legalized cannabis states—California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—visiting medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational marijuana outlets, grow ops, grow shops, marijuana organizations, and other cannabis industry sites and people.

When you see the range of marijuana products already being created, sold, and branded you’ll be better able to create unique products and branding that find a profitable audience niche.

Define Your Place in the Marijuana Industry

You want to figure out ahead of time what kinds of cannabis-related activities will make you happiest when you do them as part of your marijuana business. For example, many black market marijuana growers are introspective loners who want to work in a quiet grow op away from people. Those types of people probably wouldn’t want to be the manager of a retail marijuana outlet, where dealing with people is a constant job requirement. They’d be better off creating or expanding a marijuana grow op business.

Another person might have a brown thumb instead of a green thumb,  but very much enjoys working with people and has a sparkling, engaging, caring personality. That person wouldn’t want to be a marijuana grower, but would do well in a marijuana business that helps people understand how to beneficially use cannabis, or as a staff manager for retail medical marijuana or recreational cannabis outlets.

I know a person who loves cooking and baking. So the obvious choice for her in matching her persona to a cannabis career was to become a medibles and edibles maker. She did that, made delicious and potent medical and recreational marijuana munchies, and is supremely happy.

It isn’t enough to create a marijuana business that makes you rich. You want to also create one that matches your personality, talents, and disposition.

Money & Personnel in a Marijuana Business

Locking down your financing, and protecting yourself financially so a business failure doesn’t make you a homeless person, are tantamount when you’re starting any business, but especially a business that might be legal in your state, but is illegal federally.

I mentioned before that you want to talk to a marijuana attorney and a cannabis accounting firm, and this is one of the reasons why. And another consideration for all but the most isolated solopreneurs is who are you going to work with. Many business failures come because the boss hires the wrong people, doesn’t treat people right, is betrayed, or even ripped off. Many a grower has been ripped off by a trimmer crew, for example.

The marijuana industry has an embarrassing problem in that it attracts chronic, somewhat brain-addled stoners who might not be in full control of their cognitive faculties. I’ve seen plenty of grow room and marijuana business disasters that happened because somebody was too stoned to do their job properly.

The marijuana industry also attracts cannabis cowboys, outlaws, and other “adventurous” people who don’t always play by the rules, and may be narcissistic and selfish so they put their interests ahead of yours.

Better be safe than sorry. No matter how well you think you know someone, be sure to thoroughly background check anyone you’re considering for any role in your marijuana business.

The good news is there are plenty of smart, ethical, honest people in the marijuana industry. You can find good people for your marijuana business, for sure.

Let me emphasize this: planning and starting your own marijuana business could be the best decision you ever made. Success, fulfillment, and an exciting career could await you in the booming marijuana industry!