The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding. The global cannabis market is expected to exceed $30 billion in the next several years, according to a recent report by New Frontier Data. There’s no question that there’s money to be made here.

If you’re interested in grabbing a piece of the pie, you’ll need to first learn the basics of cannabis cultivation—and the business side of things. The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly more professional and regulated. To be successful, you’ll have to measure up to the competition.

Develop Your Business Plan

It goes without saying that the first step to starting any successful business is proper planning. What is your level of expertise in both the business basics and the actual cultivation? In some cases, hiring expert consultants to advise you will be a big benefit in determining your budget and creating a business plan.

Cannabis cultivators come in all shapes and sizes, from homegrown to multi-million dollar enterprises. Perhaps you’re ready to go all in and have the budget and expertise, or perhaps you’re starting small. Either way, it’s crucial to develop a clear plan of action. Especially if you’re trying to get investors, a solid business plan is non-negotiable.

Make It Legal

The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly more professional and regulated. If you want to run a successful business—not just a hobby—it’s crucial to remain on the up and up. The first step is to check the laws around commercial cannabis cultivation in your state. Your state government website is the best resource for current policies.

You need a license from your state’s regulatory body, which is usually some kind of marijuana control board. The process varies by state, so it’s important to get state-specific information. Some states require vertical integration, which means that you own both the cultivation and sales operations of your business, while other states allow you to operate solely as a cultivation business. In many states, such as California weed delivery services are even popping up to offer a more convenient option for customers.

This can be a lengthy and expensive process. According to Insider, it can cost as much as $1 million in startup capital just to get a license, although it can be significantly cheaper. And there’s no guarantee you’ll secure a license. If you do, you should know that the laws are always changing, and there’s no guarantee they’ll always change in your favor.

Setting Up Shop

If you’re interested in starting a real business, not just a hobby, you’ll need the know-how and the facilities to make it happen. Today’s cultivation isn’t growing a few plants in your closet with a green light; it’s big money, high-stakes environment.

But even if you’re starting small—in the hopes of working your way up—you’ll still need to have the right conditions for your plants to thrive and decide the best strains to grow. 

Indoors vs. Outdoor Cultivation

The simplest and cheapest way to grow is outdoors, where you can take advantage of the sun’s energy and other natural resources. However, you need the right space for it, and that area needs to receive enough sunshine during the growing season. The more growing area you have, the larger the crops you can grow, and the bigger your yield will be.

Setting up an indoor grow is more expensive because it requires equipment and utilities. You will need to invest in a proper grow light and a quality bud trimmer. However, you can control every aspect of the growing environment. The cannabis you produce may be more consistent, of higher quality, and more potent than that grown outdoors, which may lead to a larger ROI.

Choosing a Strain

The best bet is to grow a strain you know and like. No need to dabble in the unknown at this stage. You’ll also have to choose a strain you know will be able to thrive in whatever growing conditions you have available.

Some other things to consider:

Availability: State regulations will dictate what seeds and clones you can grow in your area. Seeds and clones can’t travel between states, so you can only grow what’s produced in your state.

Amount of space: If growing in a small space, you’ll want to choose plants that need less space to produce an equal crop. If you have a larger space, you’ll have more freedom to choose your strain, regardless of how much space it needs.

Environment and climate: Some strains are easier to grow outside, and some are a better fit for indoor growing. Some are more vulnerable to pests, which makes them a better fit for the controlled climate of an indoor growing space.

Grow time: Certain strains will take a greater amount of time to mature. If you’re looking for a quick harvest, those won’t be the right strains for you.

Do Your Homework

This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to starting a cannabis cultivation business. Get ahead of your competition by being meticulous in your research and planning. Study your state’s laws, network with other growers and experts and learn from them, and set yourself up for early success.