5 Ways to Build a Better Board of Directors in Cannabis

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Your board of directors should be a group of seasoned professionals who represent the strategy, direction, and growth behind your company. The group will oversee organizational strategies, corporate governance, and capital investments, all while steering the overall strategic direction of the operation.

If your company is considering going public or recently has gone public, it’s time to find board members who have the experience, character, and leadership skills that will set your business up for future success. According to the Society of Human Resources, the average time it takes to fill a non-executive position is thirty-six days, but this can vary from industry to industry, especially when searching for highly qualified and experienced candidates for board positions.

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Securing the perfect director candidate can take years, but there are several steps businesses can and should take to streamline the process.

Leverage your network

First, leverage your network and your investors’ networks to find potential candidates. Consider mentors, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, retired executives, and others with experience or insight that might benefit your team. Considering proven leaders from other industries who can bring expertise in marketing, retail, legal, customer service, etc. will be a huge asset as your company grows and evolves in today’s marketplace. If you already have board members, ask them to recommend new members.

While your network is invaluable, be cautious about selecting directors simply because they are friends or relatives. Always ask for references and thoroughly review a candidate’s profile to make sure they are the right fit for your company’s specific goals and culture. A diverse range of knowledge and expertise is the most critical qualification, and be careful to avoid anyone who has a potential conflict of interest.

Seek specialized staffing agencies

Take advantage of agencies specializing in executive search and staffing, which have access to thousands of high-quality, vetted candidates. Partnering with a staffing firm is an easy way to connect with the right candidates in a shorter time frame, and you may save your company time and money by avoiding a bad match. Choose a firm that understands your company culture, future business goals, and where your company stands in the marketplace.

Define what matters most

Your board of directors must have the right combination of character, reputation, proven judgment skills, and relevant experience. This can be especially challenging to find in today’s competitive marketplace. Due to the relative youth of the cannabis industry (and some of the lingering stigma associated with the plant), recruiting directors can be a complex process.

Your leadership team should help your company reach its full potential. The best cannabis directors are strong communicators, skilled networkers capable of building lasting partnerships, highly adaptable, and able to learn from failure. They are creative problem-solvers who make decisions with conviction and view challenges as opportunities to succeed.

Prioritize cohesion

Your board of directors should have a diverse blend of skills and experience that align with the strategic direction of your organization. After all, at the end of the day they need to drive results. This relevancy will give investors confidence in the board’s management oversight and future planning skills.

Board members also need to have the time, energy, and passion to commit to your business and its continued success. Finding a director with a personality and skill set aligned with your company culture is of the utmost importance. Building your board is all about finding the right balance of experience, company culture, and industry fit. Your board of directors should act as mentors to the rest of your leadership team, helping them grow as leaders and coaches and instilling a growth mindset.

Look for new ideas

Prioritize diversity when it comes to filling your board positions. Having a diverse board of directors that includes women and minorities will help your company evolve and tap into a variety of perspectives to grow along with the industry. A diverse team will be more likely to come up with innovative solutions that discover unmet needs and new opportunities for a more expansive target audience.

Appointing qualified, experienced, and engaged directors is a critically important decision for any company. A strong board can be one of your biggest assets, so this isn’t the place to compromise. Cannabis businesses need highly skilled executives who mesh well with the company culture and drive the business toward success and growth.


Liesl-Bernard-CannabizTeam-mg-magazine-mgretailer-Liesl Bernard is founder and chief executive officer at CannabizTeam, an executive search and staffing firm focused specifically on the cannabis industry. Her team has placed thousands of candidates at executive and management levels in all verticals of the cannabis industry worldwide. She attributes her success to her vast international recruitment experience and deep passion for the industry.

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