How to Start a Marijuana Business
So you see everyone is making bank in the marijuana industry and you are getting extreme FOMO by not getting a piece of the $31 million dollar pot market. Any entrepreneur who loves money is right to be excited about the marijuana industry. While more and more states are legalizing it, more businesses are sprouting up in all kinds of forms.
The marijuana business is BOOMING and there are endless ways that you can make money off the cannabis industry. You don’t necessarily need to start a dispensary or grow marijuana to get in the mj market. You can even just make the stickers for products, design labels or even do search engine optimization for cannabis-based businesses :).
Starting a marijuana business does not have to be hard…or expensive.
In this guide, I am going to walk you through how to start a marijuana business.
Marijuana Business Plan
First things first, you must have a plan of attack when starting a marijuana business. Having a business plan allows you to run your business based on these goals and values defined in the business plan.
There are plenty of great resources out there to help you start writing your business plan. Ganjapreneur has a pretty good article on how to write a cannabis business plan if you want to learn how to write one yourself. You can also get someone to write a business plan for you who is an expert on the subject. Find a freelancer using sites like freelancer.com or upwork.com and you can get a business plan written by a pro for around $500.
Marijuana Business Formation
Just because you are starting a marijuana-related business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the rules of business. When building a marijuana business, you should first register your business in your state. Depending on which state you live in, the process will be little different on how to form a business. But these days, it’s usually as simple as filling out an online form and registering your business online for around $150.
You will need to choose which type of business you will have. There are a few different types of business structures:
- Sole Proprietorship
- S Corporation
- C Corporation
Which business structure you choose depends on a number of factors like what type of business you are running, tax factors and your location. But if you are looking to start a legitimate marijuana business, I would stay away from Sole Proprietorship as this will not protect you if anything were to happen.
If you are looking to start a dispensary, there are a number of fees that you will need to pay to open a dispensary. On average, you should have around $12,000 to be able to pay for application and licensing fees to open a marijuana dispensary.
One of the most difficult parts about starting any business is finding capital to run the business. You will need cash flow to run the day to day operations, pay for expenses, employees, etc.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to go out there and shark tank style pitch a bunch of big investors. You can get a good amount of startup capital by simply asking friends and family if they would want to invest in your company for a piece of equity.
If you are wanting to start a dispensary, for example, you don’t actually need hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can start a dispensary for only about $7,000, depending on your state and local taxes.
Marketing your Marijuana Business
The hardest part about starting your marijuana business is… getting customers! They are the lifeblood of any business, but they are pretty hard to get up front. If no one knows about your awesome product, how do you expect them to buy it?
Now that you have the capital and your business is ready to go, its time to start marketing. There are a number of different ways that you can market your marijuana business:
Social Media Marketing
Marketing your marijuana business on social media is one of the best ways to get eyeballs on your business. This is because there are millions of people on these platforms so if you can grow a following and push your products/business through those channels, you can get a large amount of growth.
Generating a following may seem like quite a daunting task but its a lot easier than you think. It will require commitment and work but you can easily get 1000+ followers a month on each social media platform.
Simply add relevant and engaging content to your social media profiles. If you are a dispensary, show amazing pictures of your marijuana products or maybe host a daily Facebook live show, promoting and reviewing your new products. Do this consistently, and you will see that your followers will grow immensely.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the technique of ranking your website high in the search engines so when people search for something, you show up right there. SEO can get pretty advanced but there are some simple methods you can do right now, to boost your rankings and get higher in Google.
First, if you are running a dispensary or local marijuana-related business, then you should add your business to Google My Business. This will allow your business to show up in Google Maps and other local searches related to your business. Its a pretty simple process:
- Register your Marijuana Business in Google My Business
- Receive a postcard with a special code on it
- Enter the code in online
- You have now verified your Google Business Listing
Now, you can be found when people make geo-based searches or are looking for a business near them on Google.
For example, if you are a dispensary in Colorado Springs and someone search ‘dispensaries in Colorado Springs’ or ‘dispensaries near me’ while they are in Colorado Springs, they would see your company.
This is called Local SEO and is one of the most popular methods of SEO for marijuana-related businesses because they are only recently allowed in Google My Business. Local SEO for Dispensaries can get you a ton of local customers and walk-in visitors, by ranking you higher in Google.
Pay Per Click Advertising
PPC advertising is paying per click, for visitors to come to your site. Some of the biggest PPC advertisers are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.
Unfortunately, you can’t use either one of these to advertise your marijuana business per their terms, but we do have a great service to advertise your marijuana business.
Hopefully in the future, the larger ad networks will allow marijuana-related advertising on their platforms but for now, you will have to rely on organic digital marketing like SEO and social media marketing.
Tyler Horvath is a serial entrepreneur, digital marketing expert and King of Search Engine Optimization, with over 15 years experience building traffic online.