4 Ways To Keep Your Start-up Cannabis Business ‘Lean’

November 4, 2019 Financial Strategy

Congratulations — you’re a new cannabis business owner! You’re excited because you secured financing, welcomed your first customers, hired an excellent team, and sales are starting to roll in. You’re feeling good about your success as a start-up thus far.

But, suddenly the rush of excitement begins to fade. The numbers aren’t quite what they should be because sales are plateauing and costs are on the rise. Quite a few start-ups find themselves here. Not to worry, there are proven strategies that can get your business back to where you want it. 

These strategies are both tangible and intangible in nature and can help your business stay ‘lean’. In this context, lean refers to making more calculated decisions and ‘trying-on’ approaches that other successful businesses mastered.

Here are four specific tips to help your business think and stay lean: 

  1. Follow the Trail of Evidence

This first tip can help shift your focus away from favorable opinions, to cold-hard evidence. When you look at the evidence, you can clearly see the unbiased opinions of your products. For instance, what are your customers saying about your products? Are you sourcing products from the best in the business? What’s the overall perception (news coverage, social media response, customer reviews) of your products or business? Which cannabis products and accessories are selling and which are collecting dust on the shelves?

Carefully studying these measures can help you analyze what is working, and what is not. Look into the data more, observe the trends, and from this vantage point, you can make better-informed choices about what to improve.

  1. Continually Refine Your Business Operations 

Success rarely happens overnight, and it rarely happens on your first try. Meaning, your initial idea to stock your dispensary, or fill staff positions, or find the best inventory management system may well change down the road. 

A business is a work in progress, operations should be evaluated and updated as the need arises. This doesn’t mean you failed because you didn’t get it ‘right’ the first time. It means there is always room for improvement. 

Take Thomas Edison for example. It took thousands of attempts to devise and perfect the light bulb. Or Steve Jobs, who got kicked out of Apple, only to return and transform the company into an international empire. Failure did not define these men. On the contrary, failure was the catalyst that propelled them to a greater level of success. 

Edison did not give up because of business failures

Thomas Edison did not let business failures stop him.


  1. Empower All Members of Your Team

In keeping with the ‘lean’ mentality, this particular point urges the founders and executive team to work collectively with all staff members and employees. Everyone serves an important role in the company. Try to empower, collaborate, and give your team ownership of tasks. This encourages them to become invested in the company’s success. Furthermore, it will lead company and individual goals to get carried out with more determination and enthusiasm.

The success of any business takes the collaboration, motivation, and effort of the entire team. When there are no barriers drawn between executives and employees, the mission of your company is more effortlessly carried out.

  1. Get Good at Riding the Waves

When you successfully emerge from the start-up phase, you might think, “good, it’s only up from here.” But, that’s not always the case. In particular, a cannabis business faces more hurdles than a standard business. 

A cannabis business must maintain quality control standards; maintain strict and complex tax compliance; stay audit-ready; follow state, local, and county laws that are constantly being amended. There is no shortage of requirements and responsibilities––these are only from the perspective of compliance.

These requirements can cause ripples or waves that interrupt the flow of business. As a result, changes or adaptations will need to get addressed. Therefore, attention, detail, and care are required to help ride these potential ‘business waves.’ These waves test a company’s will to stay lean and ultimately, to achieve success. 

As stated, some of the most intricate and complicated tasks for a cannabis business are accounting and tax compliance requirements. Having a team of financial cannabis experts can ease this burden and free up your time to focus on business operations.  

If you’d like to speak with our financial experts at Northstar to see how we can help, send an email to info@nstarfinance.com or give us a call at 424.274.3188.