As the Illinois Department of Agriculture continues to issue adult-use cannabis licenses established under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Leaf Trade President and CRO Michael Piermont congratulated the most recent lottery winners announced today and offered practical tips for how they can now get to market successfully and thrive.
“The Illinois adult-use market only launched in 2020, but it has become one of the biggest success stories in today’s legal cannabis industry,” said Piermont, who noted the state’s posting of more than $1 billion in sales last year. “But not every licensed operator today will profit if they fail to focus on the right business fundamentals.”
In today’s fast-evolving cannabis industry in Illinois, a few areas of focus are notable, Piermont said. These include:
- Focus on the right product, not a collection of average ones. “Now that Illinois is announcing the long-awaited winners of these coveted licenses, many new companies are now racing to get their products to market as quickly as possible,” Piermont said. “But even though Illinois’ adult-use market is just over a year old, it already is one marked by high-quality cannabis products. That’s where cannabis operators in the state need to excel if they want to stand out from their competitors. If new license holders quickly launch subpar products, they could irreparably damage their brand. That’s why it’s better for new cannabis companies to focus on one blockbuster product rather than a dozen SKUs that don’t necessarily stand out from the competition. The most successful companies in this space have started out with one meaningful product to build on, such as perfectly cured flower, before offering a greater variety of additional products, such as concentrates, edibles or vaping items.
- Focus on hiring the right leaders for your company. “The next priority after product must be the people these new companies hire, especially the leadership,” Piermont continued. “The right team can make all the difference in whether a company succeeds. That’s especially true in cannabis, particularly a relatively new legal market like Illinois.”
- Focus on forming the right partnerships for your company. “Today’s cannabis industry is full of potential. However, it is also one filled with challenges and pitfalls,” Piermont said. “It’s important to understand that no successful cannabis company can go it alone. That is why strategic partnerships are necessary to safeguard against inevitable supply-chain uncertainties and reduce costly organizational inefficiencies.”
- Focus on operational integrations that promote efficiencies. “There are only so many hours in the day, and growing and scaling your organization is going to consume a lot of your time,” Piermont observed. “Levering technology and integrating operations is key to streamlining record-keeping, accounting and payment requirements, compliance obligations and CRM tasks.”
Earlier this week, the Illinois Department of Agriculture issued the first round of adult-use cannabis licenses, issuing 32 initial craft grow licenses, 28 infuser licenses and 9 transporter licenses. Applicants who received notices of award for craft grow, infuser or transporter licenses qualify as 83% social equity by ownership and 67% identify as nonwhite.
The department will issue as many as 60 additional craft grower and as many as 60 additional infuser licenses before December 21.