I am a 36 year old woman looking to be the first female owned dispensary in my state. Do you have any tips for starting one? I know I will need investors just to even consider it. But, what else do I need to focus on first?
Thank you for your time.
— First Lady
Dear First Lady,
One of the exciting things about the expanding business opportunities surrounding marijuana is that women are truly taking the lead. In fact, the percentage of women holding leadership roles in the cannabis industry is much larger than in business ventures overall. So, the fact that you're already thinking of how you can be involved, shows that you're right on the money, so to speak.
The first thing you need to do is check to see what the laws and regulations are where you live. Your state (New Hampshire) is currently only allowing four dispensaries to open, and it's been a long, convoluted process.
In fact, none of the allotted dispensaries are currently open, but ideally they will be in the next few months. So, while you may not be able to open a dispensary in New Hampshire right now, you can start planning so that when the state allows more to open, you'll be all ready to apply.
Since you deserve some expert advice on this topic, I contacted Brooke Gehring, founding member of Women Grow, an organization created specifically to support women in the cannabis industry.
Gehring, who is also the President and Founder of The Live Green Group, offered up three excellent tips to help get you started on your way to owning your own dispensary:
1. Start building relationships at both the Local and State levels.
Establishing yourself with the governing bodies and regulators who will ultimately license your business allows for you to 1) understand any local or state nuances, 2) be an active part of the conversation which can lead to influencing policy decisions that will affect your business, 3) set yourself apart from the competition by showing your interest in being a voice for other stakeholders, as well as your responsibility to getting involved and being an active part of the community and state program.
2. Begin networking by joining a local, state, and national trade association.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough that your relationships that you build will help expedite your learning curve. Local, state, and national trade associations will put you in direct contact with other like minded, professional and resourceful individuals who will help during the start up phases of your business, with capital raising, with real estate access, and offering ancillary services that will help streamline making all of your ideas become a reality. It also helps you understand the market challenges that other business owners might face and brainstorming best practices that you can apply in your own business. Most importantly, through your network you will gain credibility and the referrals from your peers, which = More Customers/Patients to help grow your business and brand!
3. Always have confidence and believe in yourself!
Being an entrepreneur is a tireless venture and sometimes will feel like the longest most mentally and physically challenging days of your life, and then the next day comes and it is a new set of hurdles, obstacles, and challenges. Endurance is key! Focus on building a solid foundation, with core values, and efficiencies. You must do that first and then focus on the profitability. If you overextend yourself too much in the beginning you never will have your feet on the ground. Continue to believe in yourself, the strength of your skillset, as well as your passion for being on the ground floor of a brand new industry! Good Luck!
I echo Gehring in wishing you the best of luck, reader! Let us know how it goes.