No-Go to New Normal: Making the Jump from the Corporate World to Cannabis

Entering the cannabis industry as a professional from outside industries used to be nearly impossible. Now, as cannabis companies are maturing and are navigating explosive growth mode, the need for outside talent to join and grow departments like Sales, Marketing, Finance, and HR is becoming the new normal.

Cannabis companies that are in explosive growth mode often are building out their Sales, Marketing, Finance and HR departments for the first time. These first department hires will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the organization. These executive and senior level team members will provide vision and leadership, keep the organization running smoothly, and take the lead on building out the team for their functional areas. 

Transferable Skills

To find the best candidates for this new normal, company executives should look for soft skills that are transferable to these top-level positions and dynamic industry. Top soft skills to make the jump include having a go-getter attitude, the ability to wear multiple hats, being comfortable in a startup environment, being extremely personable, and meeting objectives without large budgets for resources.

Cannabis companies can benefit immensely  from an outside perspective and most of the skill sets in Sales, Marketing, Finance, and HR are completely transferable to the cannabis industry as it pertains to structured approach, process, and workflow. After all, a sales cycle can be broken down into the same components at any company. The difference in cannabis is the length of the sales cycle. This is where the candidate’s attitude, optimism, and drive to push things over the finish line and not giving up, really come into play.

Skills + Grit

It takes grit to succeed in the cannabis industry. On the finance side, it is important to have a creative mindset for managing money. The current cannabis banking climate is extremely restrictive for businesses. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, it is very difficult for cannabis companies to set up bank accounts, receive loans, and access other banking services that most businesses take for granted. Often, finance professionals are tasked with managing large amounts of cash and making sure that everything is accounted and paid for through a repeatable process. If the candidate is coming from a larger corporation, they must be able to pivot into a startup environment and take into consideration the fact that they may be a one-person show with limited direction about how to do things. 

In cannabis marketing, industry-specific challenges also exist. It is important to also have that creative mindset to engage your target audience without breaking the law. Major ad platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram do not allow paid cannabis advertising. It is up to the marketing team to find innovative loopholes and workarounds to get the brand name in front of the people who would benefit from your service. Linkedin has proven itself to be a great resource for the cannabis industry as  the only platform that allows cannabis companies to advertise through paid posts.. 

Last but certainly not least, is Human Resources, one of the most important departments in any business, especially cannabis. Candidates who thrive in this type of role, must have the ability to work with a company that is ever-changing, adapt company policies to match growth, oversee internal hiring processes, and manage payroll and benefits. HR professionals who can roll up their sleeves and work closely with the executive team to carry out the vision and mission of the organization company-wide are highly desired. This is another role where the foundational concepts and processes of the job are going to be the same, if not very similar, to HR departments in outside industries. 

Making the Jump and Building Teams

Sales, Marketing, Finance, and Human Resources and roles have more value now than ever before within the cannabis industry. For executives making the jump into cannabis, be sure to highlight the soft skills you are bringing to the table. For business leaders building teams, place value on candidates who have a solid background in outside industries and provide the foundational aspect of the processes and methodical approaches that support your vision, and add new roles and departments to your organizations.