The #1 Way to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Cannabis License
Avoid a Major Application Mistake
Updated for 2021:
With the flurry of new cannabis programs in 2021, this advice holds true as competition is strong and some states are providing very short windows for license application periods.
As we look back on the whirlwind that was 2018 and look forward to what’s sure to be an interesting 2019 in the cannabis industry, we want to share some valuable advice that is essential to cannabis entrepreneurs who are planning to submit and hoping to win competitive cannabis business licenses. We have seen the same mistakes made time and again with the licensing application process, so we want to help you avoid frustration, set you up for success, and make your application more compelling and the process easier for everyone involved.
Start Preparing Early: The #1 Key to Licensing Application Success
The #1 recommendation we make to cannabis entrepreneurs is to start preparing early because the #1 mistake we see our clients make is underestimating how long the pre-application process takes. We tell our clients all the time that early preparation is absolutely essential to have the best chance at winning a license. Your licensing application is the vehicle that demonstrates your business vision and your ability to be successful to the most important audience — those who are grading hundreds and hundreds of applications.
No one should expect to win a cannabis business license with only a few months to work through all of the steps. Start as early as possible to learn all about the industry, develop a business plan and financial model, acquire the funding, secure a compliant property, assemble a standout team, and write a compelling licensing application.
The Importance of Starting Early
Starting early gives you the best chance of success because there is so much learning to do, because the cannabis business licensing application process is so complex, and most importantly, because the stakes are incredibly high. You are competing with and will be scored against unknown players, so you must bring your A+ game. We recognize the stakes are high and that clients are putting it all on the line because there are sometimes no second chances. We give our clients the best chance to succeed because we understand the stakes and how to efficiently navigate the complex licensing process. There are no guarantees that your business will win a license, but starting the pre-application process way in advance of the deadline allows you time to get the critical groundwork done.
The biggest mistake cannabis entrepreneurs make when beginning the licensing application process is not leaving enough time before the application is released to lay three critical foundations. You should have at least these three things, before your jurisdiction’s licensing application is released:
- A fully compliant property;
- A plan for your business with a corresponding financial model and the actual funds represented in that model; and,
- Key staff roles filled.
Another crucial element you should leave ample time for is industry education. Even the savviest entrepreneurs need a crash course as they enter the cannabis industry due to how rapidly it is expanding and evolving. This education will inform the start and future of your business. The tips and tricks presented here are barely even the tip of the iceberg. The cannabis education process is neverending, and even with over 100 years of combined experience in the industry, we are learning and sharing new information with our clients every day. Eight years of successful application writing means we have a wealth of tips and tricks to share with our clients, and that knowledge library grows and gets disseminated every day.
We recommend starting the pre-application processes at least 6 months before the application drops so that you have ample time to demonstrate your business in that short timeframe. Jurisdictions typically allow only a very short window of time to write a complete licensing application, compile everything, and get it turned in. Completing this pre-application work will increase the likelihood of success, make the application process run more smoothly, and ensure a timely, comprehensive submission.
Preparing a thorough, powerful cannabis licensing application will take longer than you think and cost more money than you think, but our best advice is to start now in putting together your business plan and financial model, finding a compliant property, raising funds, and recruiting expert team members. The sooner you start your pre-application preparation, the better you can demonstrate your ability to be a successful operator in your application.
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