5 Key Elements of a Successful Cannabis Consultancy
While some entrepreneurs and investors are scrambling to enter the green rush for short-term gains, responsible cannabis consultancies are positioning themselves far from the madding crowd to implement customized licensing and compliance services for clients in search of long-term success.
As legalization spreads from one state to the next, the legal cannabis industry will likely see many consultancies attempting to advise clients on how to enter the market. Signal Bay Inc. (OTC: SGBY), a provider of cannabis consulting, research, data, operations and laboratory services, knows a cannabis consultancy needs the following five elements to be successful: a professional team, experience, expertise, transparency and connections to capital.
The legal cannabis industry is woven together by a patchwork of licensing and compliance regulations. A licensing application, whether for a state producer, processor or retailer, needs to demonstrate a handle on multiple fields of knowledge, including zoning, financing and management, among many others.
Because licensing applications have such comprehensive requirements, it is impractical to use an individual consultant to guide your application—you need a consultancy that has a team of experts in the various fields of cannabis licensing and regulatory compliance.
“The number one thing those considering an entry into cannabis commerce should know: never underestimate the complexity of the applications,” said William Waldrop, Director and CEO of Signal Bay. “A team of consultants is the only way to go, ensuring each specialized portion of the application is completed correctly.”
State-by-state legalization has limited the number of opportunities for potential market entrants to gain industry-specific knowledge, allowing cannabis consultancies to use their experience to bring industry hopefuls up to speed.
When examining a cannabis consultancy, check its success rate for specific markets and licensing applications, and compare those rates to its competitors.
Signal Bay assisted clients in Nevada with their applications for medical marijuana establishments. According to Waldrop, “Our team had tremendous success in Nevada last year. All of our clients received licensing, including among the competitive dispensaries, and they received top scores in all license categories.”
According to Autumn McCray, President of Libra Wellness Center in North Las Vegas, “Signal bay has been instrumental in our success. Will and Lori have far exceeded our expectations and continue to add value to our business with their experience and expertise.”
On the East Coast, “Signal Bay worked with seven clients in Maryland, assisting them through the application process,” Waldrop said, meeting the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission’s application deadline of Nov. 6, 2015, which was just 40 days after the application was released. Each application required up to 50,000 words of responses to detailed questions ranging from security and seed-to-sale inventory tracking procedures to extensive discussion of employee training and community impact plans.
While harnessing experience from the legal cannabis industry, advanced cannabis consultants also leverage standard operating procedures from traditional industries as a means of crafting refined plans of action for their clients’ licensing applications.
A master cannabis cultivator isn’t guaranteed a state cultivation license, nor is a premier consultancy without any knowledge of marijuana, which is why consultancies well poised for success are those that combine mainstream practices with marijuana expertise.
Signal Bay has the mainstream element covered with William Waldrop and Lori Glauser. As director and CEO of Signal Bay, Waldrop draws upon his previous roles as chairman of the board and CEO of Newport Entertainment Group, as well as his experience as the president and CEO of College Partnership, a publicly traded company that assists high school students with their college selection and financial aid. Lori came to Signal Bay from Ernst & Young, where she chose to opt out of taking the path to partner to join the emerging cannabis industry.
According to Waldrop, “With Lori’s 20 years of management consulting and engineering expertise leading a strong team of industry experts, Signal Bay is positioned to assist any client through the licensing process and also ensure they remain compliant over the long term.”
Waldrop and Glauser assisted Electrum Partners in the management and preparation of state license applications for Nevada Medical Marijuana Establishments. Upon joining Signal Bay’s advisory board, Leslie Bocskor, managing partner of Electrum Partners and founding chairman Nevada Cannabis Industry Association, said, “I am excited to help guide [Glauser and Waldrop] in establishing a business that I am sure will be a substantial contributor and participant in building the next great American industry.”
Signal Bay’s in-house marijuana expertise comes from Eddie Abravanel, vice president of business development. Abravanel is a veteran of the medical marijuana industry, having years of experience in cultivation and production.
In 2008, Abravanel was at the forefront of the Michigan medical marijuana movement when he spearheaded, marketed and ran Detroit’s first dispensary, “Ed’s Meds.” Abravanel has also consulted with hundreds of patient cultivators in Colorado and Michigan.
The company also relied heavily on the expertise of three key Ph.D.s: Dr. Alicia Wilbur, author of Signal Bay’s “Medical Marijuana Desk Reference,” plus two experts in chemical and biological processes. The company draws niche experts from the Cannabis Consultant Marketplace, Signal Bay’s network of nearly 500 experts in a variety of fields ranging from marketing and branding to scientific fields.
Some clients may only want consultants to tell them what they want to hear, but a consultancy has to embrace transparency as a means of strengthening the foundation of a client’s licensing application and regulatory compliance.
According to Lori Glauser, “A consultant’s most important job is to accurately assess a client’s situation. Setting appropriate expectations is critical.”
Transparency creates an honest consultant-client relationship, enabling both parties to communicate openly from the start. As an application progresses, this makes it easier for consultants and clients to address new variables as they arise.
A consultancy that actively practices transparency not only enriches its individual client relationships, it also helps enhance its credibility within an industry.
Connections to Capital
A consultancy is well on its way to success if it can boast a professional team, experience, expertise and transparency; however, having connections to capital can take a consultancy from being merely adequate to being truly excellent.
Entrepreneurs anxious to submit licensing applications for state-legal cannabis markets may not be well versed in how to field offers from potential investors, much less how to get in touch with such people.
A cannabis-related consultancy that has connections to capital is already familiar with investors interested in the space. Accordingly, it can screen potential investors for you and more accurately identify investors who care about your application’s specific focus. If entrepreneurs can gain partnerships with their investors, infusions of capital are worth much more than face value.
While a consultancy is a necessary intermediary because it can clearly communicate to potential investors and explain the risk analysis of your specific licensing application, a consultancy can ensure that your application meets professional standards that are more apt to attract investors.
According to Waldrop, “The likelihood of getting funded is greatly increased when using the services of a team of experienced consultants to prepare your business plan, team and application.”
When Signal Bay completes a licensing application, the final product is comprehensive and cohesive. It creates a polished package that speaks to investors and presents you as a viable contender in the legal cannabis industry.
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