5 Industries That Make CFOs a Good Fit for Your Cannabis Dispensary or Grow Op

January 6, 2020 Cannabis Business

Hiring CFOs for your cannabusiness isn’t always easy. One of the single biggest challenges in the cannabis industry is hiring good people with comparable experience. Because the cannabis industry is so new, there are many times more jobs available than those with cannabis industry experience. This is especially true of c-suite level team members who require advanced business skills.

If your cannabusiness is in the market for a new Chief Financial Officer, then you’re likely not going to find one who already has experience in this industry. Thus, it’s necessary to determine relevant experience for financially managing a cannabis business, whether you’re running a dispensary or grow op. The key is to consider how experience in other industries could translate into managing your commercial cannabis business.

What Your Cannabis CFOs Needs to Know

Comparable experience is an interesting factor with a CFO. A CFO manages a business finances, including some legal work involving taxes and regulations. They handle revenue management, inventory costing, tax filing, and they look for ways to save the business money by eliminating unnecessary costs. Theoretically, the CFO job is similar in many industries. In reality, each industry has unique demands, routines, and regulation standards for the individual tasks done by the CFO.

This means you need a CFO that has experience comparable to the activities and requirements of a cannabis dispensary or grow operation. You’ll quickly see how the following five industries offer that kind of insight, based on the type of cannabis business you’re hiring for.

CFOs With Local Retail Experience

The first and best place to look for CFOs with cannabis-comparable experience is the retail industry. A dispensary is, essentially, a retail location for an inventory of controlled substances. Your dispensary location, setup, and daily activities will all resemble a normal retail business. Then, your job is to keep products that customers want to buy while making the shopping experience easy and enjoyable.

Your CFO’s job is to make sure you’re making more money than you’re spending in overhead and to keep the books in line with all regulations and taxes. Experience as the CFO of a retail location can significantly contribute to their understanding of what your dispensary needs from a CFO.

Boutique Retail

The closest allegory for a one-location dispensary is boutique retail. Boutique retail is usually not a franchise and is managed by a local owner/operator. Gift shops, small clothing stores, and bookstores are often variations of boutique retail when the brand is not franchised or built into a chain. A CFO with boutique retail experience will understand the unique requirements of an entirely self-sufficient single retail location.

Regional Brand Retail

The next best comparable experience is regional brand retail. Whether with a franchise or a regional one-owner chain of stores, a CFO with experience in a regional brand will have some understanding of what your dispensary needs and possibly how to approach branching out into multiple locations.

Health Food and Supplements

Another important aspect of the cannabis industry is the fact that you’re selling consumables that must comply with strict regulations. In fact, right now a recreational dispensary is very similar to a health food store. The health food and supplements industry has a great deal in common with the cannabis industry, including financial needs to maintain inventory from vetted natural sources.

A CFO who has worked in the health food and supplements industry will have a greater understanding of the legal and medical implications of your cannabis business. Thus, they may be better prepared to keep your business afloat. If they have been a CFO for a health food retail store, that’s even better. Indeed, it combines retail experience with health supplement experience.

Pharmaceutical and Pharmacy Retail

Similar to the health food and supplement background is experience in pharmaceuticals and retail pharmacies.

Pharma Brands

A CFO with a background in the Pharma industry is prepared for a cannabis business listed as a pharmacy. A CFO with a pharma background will have a much deeper understanding of the legal and financial requirements of a cannabis business. Also, they understand the gravity of creating an absolutely error-free business model for the customer’s health and safety.

Retail Pharmacies

A CFO with experience working for a retail pharmacy will have even greater insight. Retail pharmacy experience is ideal for any cannabis business that is built on the pharmacy model rather than the health food model.

Botanical and Agricultural

Of course, it’s not guaranteed that your cannabis business will be a dispensary, or limited only to retail operations. If you are planning to open a grow business, then you might consider CFOs with botanical experience. CFOs that have handled farm, a plant nursery, or greenhouse finances will have more insight into a grow business. They will understand the cost and production cycle of organic supplies, growth schedules, and the need to build a network of brands that will buy your finished product.


CFOs look over the finances of their company
Businessman signing a contract on a desk.

Finally, it’s worth considering any CFO that has a good track record with startup companies. Some CFOs specialize in helping startups reach a revenue-positive state. They may specialize in certain types of startups or they may have skills that cross the board. You may be opening a dispensary, a grow business, or even a cannabis processing brand that makes concentrates and edibles. Whatever the business plan, a CFO with startup experience can be helpful to get your new-business finances off the ground with a good running start.

Hiring Cannabis CFOs

Are you in the market for a CFO with comparable cannabis industry experience? Consider CFOs with a background in the five listed industries. Then, remember to consider how skills can be translated into a new role. Consider the requirements and business style of your cannabis business when considering the qualifications of each CFO candidate. For more vital insights into running your cannabis business from the ground up, contact us today!

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