Marijuana Business Magazine | March 2019 68 1. Seek out a seasoned veteran and bone up on the regulations—ahead of time. While in the early stages of building a cannabis company, it’s crucial to conduct as much research as possible, including consulting with established professionals. Brad Nattrass, CEO of Colorado cultivation equipment company Urban- Gro, advises industry newcomers to incorporate the lessons learned from cannabis veterans to advance their own company’s goals. “Seek resources with experience to help you avoid making mistakes,” he added. “Ask questions. Ask for help. You don’t have to re-create the wheel.” New marijuana markets typically have limited licenses and stiff competition, so new business leaders will want all the possible arrows in their quiver before they begin. This could include someone on your team with experience working in an established licensed cannabis market as well as a legal professional who can help you read and understand complicated business documents. “To win a license and compete in your market, it is imperative to have the required business acumen, passion and industry expertise on your team,” said Andy Williams, co-founder of Medicine Man, a Denver-based vertically integrated cannabis company. And don’t forget to read the fine print, advised Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association. When you’re signing a contract, for example, you don’t want to have any surprises pop up down the road. “This is an industry where details matter,” she said. I n the past five years, Colorado’s cannabis executives—both plant- touching and ancillary—have learned enough about doing business in a new recreational market to write textbooks on the topic. The Centennial State made history when it launched the world’s first adult-use marijuana market on Jan. 1, 2014. Along the way, the state’s marijuana pioneers have experienced plenty of growing pains, lessons that can be applied to other emerging adult-use markets. Marijuana Business Magazine surveyed more than a dozen Colorado cannabis business owners to pick their brains and glean insights into their five-year education. “What we have experienced in Colorado holds true in other states as well,” said Diane Czarkowski, founding partner at Canna Advisors, a cannabis consultancy in Boulder. “As one of the first businesses to open in a new market, you have to accept your responsibility to be involved in the development of the industry.” Following are four pieces of advice for entrepreneurs looking to launch a cannabis business in a new recreational market. Brad Nattrass of Urban-Gro Courtesy Photo Kristi Kelly of the Marijuana Industry Group Courtesy Photo In the five years since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, 2014, the state’s business owners have learned plenty. Some of the key pieces of advice they would give to business owners in emerging markets include: • Appreciate the importance of research to know what your competition is doing and what your market needs are. • Avoid getting distracted by every new trend and hot product as this industry rapidly changes. • Prioritize compliance with the law— otherwise, your business won’t last very long or go very far. • Think about your brand and target specific areas and unique products—and don’t try to offer everything to everyone.