The legal marijuana industry is growing, and while there are new opportunities across the United States in almost every area of cannabis business, it can still be challenging to make a profit. Cannabis business owners face the same stress as that of normal business owners, such as budgeting, hiring, forecasting. They must also deal with a constant uncertainty given the difference in state and federal legislation, the importance of staying compliant and operating with the razor-thin margins. Fortunately, there are numerous software products that are here to help with these business challenges. Purchasing software may not feel like sexy business improvement, but it undoubtedly enhances day-to-day efficiency and contributes to the long-term growth of the business. We speak to many customers who don’t know where to start when it comes to buying software. ‘Should I invest in a different POS system or try out a new CRM? If my HR software won’t scale with our company, when should I switch to something else? How can I use the data my business generates to improve operations?’ We have created a ‘Hierarchy of Software Needs’ to answer these very questions. Let’s walk through each category to understand the importance of each tier and the impact it could have on business growth.
Start with the basics of ‘Foundational Software’
As the name suggests, this software category is important because it will lay the foundation for a successful operation. Without taking care of the financial ins and outs, there won’t be a business. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a state-compliant Point-of-Sale and accounting. Any compliance issues could mean the end of your business altogether. We have a few other tips for software in this section of the pyramid:
Point-of-Sale: Hardware for your company can be a costly investment, and some can’t afford to pay for the software upfront. There are some POS options that offer a month-by-month plan, which can make it easier for a new shop.
Accounting: Check with your accountant to make sure your software choice is compatible. If you don’t have an accountant, get one and then ask them this question.
Data security: Because this industry is so regulated and tracked, it means a lot of data is being collected. The same phishing and cybersecurity threats apply to our industry as to other small businesses, so consider how you’ll protect not only yourself but also your customers. Speak with your software providers specifically about data security and how you can manage the upkeep. Also, consider the data practices of how you store or transfer employee and customer information.
Critical software makes your business run
HR, Payroll, and Collaboration software are crucial for the day-to-day running of your business. Ensuring that you hire the right people, pay them for their work and provide the tools to work effectively will contribute directly to the growth potential of the company.
One essential feature to consider across all software in this category is how ‘user-friendly’ your choice is. For HR and Payroll, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this software cannabis-friendly? Will I get dropped when the provider finds out what my business does?
- Is it easy for managers and employees to access information?
- Mobile friendly?
- Does this software offer benefits that are easy to manage?
- Does this software integrate with my accounting software in order to manage payroll?
- How long has this software been serving the cannabis industry specifically?
Wurk for example ticks all of these boxes. Wurk offers an intuitive, all-in-one solution that helps cannabis companies automate the most complicated and risk-prone processes associated with hiring, scheduling, and paying employees. Being designed and built specifically for cannabis, the Wurk software even allows business owners to track industry credentials for when employees need to re-badge or undergo further training.
When it comes to collaboration software, like Slack or the GSuite tools, the most important question is who will be using the software and how they will engage with it? Are your employees mobile or office-based? 97% of employees and executives believe that collaboration affects a project outcome. It is important to choose tools that support the type of business collaboration your employees will be doing.
Make Business-Driven Decisions with Analytics and Big Data
Getting all your ducks in a row with the Foundational and Critical software means that you’ll be able to focus on the analytics your business is generating and consider what to do with this information. Appraise your seed-to-sale, accounting, or operational data because it could increase profits, improve efficiency, and provide your team with a data-driven strategy for the upcoming quarter. Most business owners don’t realize how much data they already generate and collect. There are tools specifically designed for cannabis business owners that can help you analyze and visualize business data.
Grow into your future
The Growth software category is important because it is vital to attract new customers and improve the experience of existing customers. Yet, growth is towards the top of the pyramid because this is where you can use insights from your data analytics in order to create data-driven marketing campaigns.
Reach the top of the pyramid
Once you have ticked all the previous software categories, it is time to think about upgrading. Whether you’re increasing efficiency, improving the bottom line, or streamlining operations, you have every reason to consider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for your business transformation. Mature businesses will benefit from software in this category because it will streamline all operations from front to back of the house. Some systems can be custom-built for your business.
CUE Cannabis helps business owners prioritize their software purchasing and find software options that fit with their business. If you want a copy of our ‘Hierarchy of Software’ checklist, you can download it here.
Fiona Foster is the Marketing Manager for CUE Cannabis. She is also part of the CUE Expert team that advises business owners on how to find the best software and services for their company.