Business Startup Checklist For First-Time Dispensary Owners

By  //  January 5, 2022

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Are you looking to diversify your business portfolio? If your answer is yes, you might want to consider opening a cannabis dispensary. Today, cannabis is one of the booming sectors. That’s why more and more entrepreneurs and investors are considering putting their capital in this industry.

People are turning to cannabis products to improve their wellness. For that reason, you’re likely to get customers. 

Starting a cannabis dispensary can be overwhelming, especially if you have never run this type of enterprise in the past. But with the right information, you can launch your dispensary without any hassle. One of the best ways to find the right information about cannabis products and cannabis businesses, in general, is by visiting a directory platform.

A good example of this is Cannabest. Such a site provides cannabis retailers and consumers with straightforward product information, prices, brands, and accessories available in the market. They even give discounts to site visitors. Having these types of information can guide you in coming up with ideas to make your own dispensary unique.  

To hit the ground running, this article contains a detailed checklist of elements you need to consider when starting your cannabis business.  

1. Select A Legal Structure 

Before starting your dispensary business, the state requires you to select a business structure and register its name. A business structure refers to how a firm is organized regarding its legal status. There are four major legal structures you can consider for your dispensary. That’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC).  

A sole proprietorship is a type of business owned and managed by one person. Such a firm has fewer legal formalities. You can’t separate the identity of a sole proprietorship business from its owner. As the sole owner of your dispensary, you’ll have full control of business assets, liabilities, and profits. 

A partnership is a business owned and controlled by two or more persons referred to as partners. The main aim of running a partnership business is to have more capital and generate and share profits.

A corporation is a business entity that has a legal personality. It’s a legal person in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a limited liability business is a company that has characteristics of both partnerships and corporations.  

Whichever structure you choose, you must register your dispensary with the state and ensure that it is legal to operate. This involves sending in your application to the designated government agency and obtaining the operating license before any business activity commences. 

There are also important steps you need to take when registering your dispensary. These include searching and reserving a name, registering the name with the state and local agencies, filing the necessary documents, and paying the required fees.  

Once you have complied with the government-related requirements, you can rest assured that you’re running a genuine or legitimate cannabis dispensary. 

2. Join An Online Community

The number of people using cannabis products is growing every day. People continue to understand the health benefits of including these products in their daily routines.  

Some people use cannabis products to supplement their diet, while others use them to improve the appearance of their skin. One of the best ways to connect with these customers is by joining an online cannabis community.  

You can join an online cannabis community in various ways. These include finding and joining cannabis social media channels, websites, and other online media.   Weedmaps, for instance, is a renowned cannabis online platform. It connects cannabis retailers, manufacturers, and consumers worldwide. You can consider joining such a community and other similar platforms to get more insight into the cannabis industry.

3. Write A Business Plan

Writing a business plan is another consideration you need to bear at the back of your mind. This is a formal written document that describes your business in detail. It also contains the operational and financial plans of your business.  The major areas of a cannabis dispensary business plan include the executive summary, business analysis, customers analysis, competitive analysis, operational plan, and financial analysis. 

The executive summary highlights what you intend to achieve with your cannabis dispensary. In other words, it helps explain to the reader the type of cannabis dispensary you want to launch. The business analysis section contains the background information about your cannabis business. It explains the model of your business, its mission and vision, the location, and when you intend to launch it. 

Customer analysis includes details about your target audience. It describes how you intend to connect with them and convert leads to sales. On the other hand, the competitive analysis section deep dives into your competitors. It also highlights how you intend to outshine other firms in the cannabis industry. 

The operational plan is a section of a cannabis business plan that explains how you will achieve both your long- and short-term goals. This section will detail the specific activities involved in the process.  Finally, the financial analysis contains your dispensary projections for the next three to five years. It involves preparing the basic financial statements fundamental in any enterprise, including an income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and statement of stockholder’s equity.

There are several benefits of creating a business plan. For instance, it guides you in achieving your dispensary objectives. In other words, it acts as a road map for your dispensary business.  If you’re looking to fund your dispensary by taking loans, you must have a business plan. Why? Most banks and other lending institutions will require comprehensive documentation about your dispensary before approving your loan. 

You can build your dispensary business plan by hiring professional writers. However, if you aim at minimizing your start-up costs, you can utilize the available free online business plan tools and templates.

4. Identify A Location

Identifying a location is another element to consider when starting your dispensary business. This is important, especially when you intend to open a brick-and-mortar store. It’d be a good idea to identify a strategic location that is easily accessible to your customers and suppliers. 

When finding a location, some of the factors to consider include demographics, foot traffic, accessibility, availability of parking, and proximity to other services like restaurants and gyms.  

There are advantages to finding a strategic location for your dispensary business. First, it helps simplify your marketing efforts. People often visit strategic locations. Therefore, you’ll spend less money and effort to attract potential customers.  Minimized cost is another benefit as it will allow you to ship products with ease. If you provide delivery services to customers, a strategic location lets you spend very little money to achieve that. 

All these help reduce your operational costs and increase your profit margins.

5. Build A Website

If you want to connect with most cannabis consumers, you must build a website.  It helps boost your visibility and connect with customers worldwide.  

Building a website isn’t enough. You need to optimize it for search engine results. This is a practice of improving your cannabis business website to help it rank high on search engine platforms. When your website ranks high, it can connect with more consumers.  

There are various things you can do to improve your website ranking. These include publishing relevant content, utilizing specific keywords, optimizing it for mobile, and providing a search bar. These make it easier for customers to access content on your website and boost the visibility of your company in search engines.

6. Hire The Right Team

Employees play a significant role in the success of your dispensary business. They help you with your daily activities like marketing, accounting, and sales. Without them, your dispensary business might not take off from the ground. 

Although you might start your dispensary without any workers, you might need them at some point, especially when your firm grows or expands. You might want to find the most qualified and experienced workers. 

The qualifications needed to work in a dispensary vary by position. For instance, the qualifications of an accountant are different from that of a salesperson. Besides, the law might require some workers to have registered with relevant professional bodies before working in a dispensary. Ensure all your workers possess the right qualifications and training. 

You can eliminate unqualified candidates even before the interview. One of the best ways to achieve that is by utilizing staff recruitment and hiring software. This computer application basically simplifies your recruitment process. It eliminates unsuitable candidates during the application stage. Thus, saves you time, money, and other resources.  

7. Find A Supplier

Staring a cannabis dispensary means working closely with a supplier. This is true, especially if you’re not manufacturing your own products.  A supplier is a person or a firm from where you’ll source your dispensary products.  

There are several suppliers out there. However, not all of them can provide genuine products. Some can promise to offer high-quality cannabis items but deliver counterfeit products. Research is necessary to find the best and reputable dispensary product supplier.  

Sometimes verifying a specific vendor’s reputation isn’t easy, especially if you’re working with them for the first time. You can overcome this by reading online reviews. These are opinions by other customers about a particular product supplier.   

Online reviews can be positive, negative, or sometimes even neutral. Positive opinions can reflect a good vendor. On the other hand, negative feedback may indicate poor quality of services. Consider sourcing your dispensary products from a supplier with consistently positive reviews.

8. Market Your Dispensary

Although you might stock the most quality products in your cannabis dispensary, you might not reach your target customers without marketing. Marketing is the process of sending promotional messages to consumers or potential customers. Without marketing, no person might come to learn about the existence of your cannabis dispensary. 

You can promote your cannabis dispensary by utilizing both offline and online marketing strategies. Examples of offline marketing methods include posters, roadshows, business cards, and flyers. 

The majority of enterprises nowadays incorporate plans for digital platforms. Some of the most effective online cannabis promotional strategies include content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, mobile marketing, search engine optimization marketing, and social media marketing. However, you must keep in mind that it is not necessary to implement these strategies all at once. 

Be mindful of your budget and keep track of what delivers high customer engagement.  


Starting a cannabis business is one of the best ways to earn a living, build your desired wealth and promote your financial freedom. There are several consumers of cannabis products. Therefore, you’re likely to generate huge revenues and profits. If you want to start a cannabis dispensary, consider the above-explained checklists. Most importantly, you have to remain focused and committed from the onset to increase your chances of success.