When people think of starting a cannabis business, they often associate it with large risk, costs, and fees. While this may be true for some businesses, there are many options for a low-risk cannabis-based opportunity. The digital age has made it extremely easy and possible to test an idea, assess its potential, and apply pivots and tweaks. There is still an association with the phrase “starting a business” that initially makes us think of packing up everything and playing all of our chips on this one idea. Maybe this is because half of us still remember the days before the Internet. Business today looks different, and the barrier of entry is easier.
Because of all of this, new businesses are popping up at a staggering rate, and the pickings are ripe in the marijuana industry. As the fastest growing economy, why not try your hand at getting a piece of the “pot” pie. (Sorry for that). Most people either have $500 bucks, or can come up with it with a little effort. Now I’m not saying this is all you will need, but the key here is starting with a little, testing an idea, and adjusting accordingly. I’d rather test 10 ideas and spend $5000 total than guess my first idea is going to be a home run and pour 5k into that one idea. The key is to start small, focus on doing the best with what you have, and then expand once the concept is proven.
Here are 5 cannabis-based businesses you may have never thought of, and are all $500 (or less) to start
1. Cannabis Lifestyle Apparel (cost to start $100-$500)
Gone are the days of only stoners wearing shirts with cannabis pictures, quotes, sayings, etc. Just think about it, how many people do you see with shirts and hats promoting alcohol brands? Now that cannabis is legal, watch out for the lifestyle movement. The acceptability of marijuana in the mainstream will allow folks the freedom to flaunt apparel with their favorite strains, dispensaries, products, etc.
Hint: You don’t even need a website to sell. Places like teespring and cafepress allow you to sell your own designs on their in-house products. They even do the shipping. You just upload and promote to your fans! This might not be a long-term solution but is a great way to test ideas and designs with your following.
2. Cannabis Online Advertising And Social Media Consultant (cost to start $100-$300)
Do you have a knack for social media and creative advertising? With cannabis ads being banned on top platforms like Facebook and Instagram, cannabis companies need to take “creative” advertising to a whole new level. The cannabis industry is having trouble spreading the word, and many are being forced to focus on advertising rather than on the actual business.
When they start to think of the time vs. dollars ratio, many would be more than happy to hand advertising off to a professional. This is where you come in. Primary roles include managing social media accounts, finding ad spots on relevant websites, and thinking of out of the box (I know, over-used) advertising initiatives.
What you need to begin?
- WordPress hosting & theme: $10-$150
- Time: Building a client base and obtaining leads.
- Thick Skin & Grind: Advertising is not for the faint of heart, be aggressive and prove you’re the best.
3. Marijuana Product Photographer (cost to start $500)
I live in Oregon, and ever since weed was legalized recreationally, dispensaries have been popping up everywhere. Already, I see more competition for marijuana consumer business. With more competition, comes the need for these businesses to separate themselves out from the crowd. Part of stepping up their game means better photography and product images. If I see the same ad for two different shops advertising edibles, guaranteed the one with the better photo is what I will chose. Humans are experience driven, and part of a good experience is the aesthetics of the product, the presentation.
The need for professional photos will increase as marijuana business matures, and many established photographers may pass due to a moral dilemma or company image concern. You’re not too late, now is a good time to pick up a camera, throw up a website and practice the craft.
Hint: A great way to get “exposure” (there I go again) is to offer your services for free to a couple dispensaries. If you do a solid job, watch how far word of mouth takes you.
Equipment isn’t cheap, but I recommend this entire Nikon photographer’s kit. Comes with everything you need to get started for under $500. Add another $50 for WordPress theme and hosting and you’re on the way. The great thing about photography is that one gig can pay for your entire investment.
4. Import & White Label Cannabis Accessories (cost to start $300-$500)
White labeling means you get to put your business name and logo on something you didn’t have to manufacture yourself. Outsourcing is common practice for business today, and many get rich white labeling custom niche items. I was amazed when I saw how many cannabis accessories you can source from places like China. To get ideas of what you can get, I recommend surfing Alibaba. It would be rather easy to apply your brand label to things like pipes, bongs, vaporizers, etc.
You can either go the wholesale route, targeting online head shops and retail dispensaries, or open up your own online shop selling your custom brand. The key is finding products that aren’t too big (shipping costs), have great margins, and adding something unique to an old proven idea.
5. Cannabis Real Estate Agent (cost varies by state, $300-$500avg)
This one may sound funny to some of you, but weed real state is in “high” (last time I promise) demand. With all the regulations surrounding location codes, dispensaries are willing to pay top dollar for a spot that is not at risk of shutdown. If your state has legalized recreational marijuana, then you can find business anywhere you look. If your state is yet to legalize, you can get your license and prepare for the tidal wave that will inevitably be coming.
Niching down to a cannabis-client agent will give you the name brand and identity you need to bring in businesses that are desperate to find a plot of land. The commissions will be big, and more than likely you’re clients will kiss your feet after the deal is done!
It’s hard to say where to go since license requirements vary state-by-state, but I suggest looking at 420realtybroker, this will give you an idea of the potential and how things are done in Colorado.