The interview – questions never to ask!

While there may be many bits of information you would like to know about a candidate for a position you’re hiring, you need to be extremely cautious in asking certain types of questions.   Some questions, while not technically illegal, could open you up to a discrimination suit.  It’s better to avoid those kinds of questions completely, and find other ways to learn about the candidate. Stay away from any questions on the following subjects: Age Race, ethnicity, or color Gender or sex Country of national origin or birth place Religion Disability Marital or family status or pregnancy Is it helpful to know some of the above information?  Maybe, but better to approach it by asking questions that provide information about their potential job performance.  Here are some examples of questions you can ask, that will help you learn how they might perform. Are you at least 21 years old? Since this is a requirement to work in the industry (assuming they are handling cannabis products), it’s okay to ask. Is there is any reason you could not pass a background check? Okay to ask this if the background check is required for the position. Are you able to fulfill the physical responsibilities of the job? Are you able to occasionally work later hours than scheduled? This may tell you if they have children or other obligations outside work. Are there any days that you cannot work? This may tell you if they have religious affiliations but the real reason to ask it is just that, to find out what kind of schedule they can work. What’s important is to...

The interview – save yourself a future headache and learn all you can!

The employee interview presents the best opportunity for you to find out about a potential employee.  Resumes and/or a completed job application are essential; they give you the nuts and bolts of the person’s education and employment history.  But it’s the interview where you will get the most information about a prospective employee.  Let’s talk about some ways to learn as much as you can about the person before you. First let me say that the interview is not intended for you to tell the applicant all about yourself and your company.  Yes, you need to give basic information about the company and describe the job fully but that should only take up about 20% of the interview.  The rest of the conversation should focus on the person being interviewed.  It is the chance for you to find out what makes this person tick, how they will fit in with your organization, and perhaps most important, what their work ethic is.  The cannabis industry is a place that many people want to work.  It’s perceived to be fun (and it is!), to have “outside the box” fringe benefits (for example, employee discounts) and have a strong future (which of course, it does).  How can you get the most information about this person within a short interview?  By asking questions that will reveal the most about them.  Here are some of the questions I always ask and what they can reveal: How would you describe yourself?  This is another way to say “tell me about yourself” and the hope is you will find out how they perceive themselves, what their...

Staying straight with a cash business – Part I – Cash Receipts

This will be a three-part blog, intended to help you manage your business in the absence of a bank account.  Here’s what you know (or need to know): The IRS is targeting the marijuana industry, auditing these businesses as much as eight times as often as other businesses. The IRS is a stickler for documentation.  They want support for every transaction you report on your tax return. In most instances, the IRS looks to the company bank account to see transactions going in and out. You don’t have a bank account. This is the situation for most all cannabis businesses.  They know the IRS will be looking for documentation but they don’t have a bank account so the IRS can’t look at the bank statements to see business transactions.  So what do you do?  The answer is you take extra steps to assure that all of your transactions are documented, even when they occur in cash. Let’s start with cash receipts.  If you are a dispensary, this is relatively easy, because you have a point of sale system that will tell you how much cash you should have at the end of each day.  Many of the POS systems will also track the amount of cash in each till and how much should be in the cash safe (assuming proper setup).  Dispensaries should run their end of day reports, which will indicate how much excess cash should be in each till.  You should leave a standard starting balance in each till ($200 for example) and count the cash over that amount.  The total of your count should match the...

Hiring right – find your future stars!

I’ve said before that employees are likely your most valuable asset.  Having the right staff is key to the success of your cannabusiness.  Oftentimes they are the first contact that your customer has with your company whether it be on the phone or in person.  It’s crucial that you hire the right people and there are ways to assure that you get the right people the first time, or at least increase the odds. How to find that right person?  Fortunately, the cannabis industry attracts plenty of people.  Some of these people are well qualified, others are not.  Finding the right people requires some work and research on your part. First, let’s talk about hiring that “friend of a friend”.  It happens often, probably even more so in a cannabis business.  A friend or relative says they know someone who would be really great.  You may feel strong pressure to hire them but working with a friend or relative can be tricky.  It’s difficult to have a frank discussion with that person about their performance.  You don’t want to be hampered by concerns that a personal relationship may be compromised if you are honest and forthright with your employee. When getting ready to hire a new staff person, think about the job description and requirements for the position.  Will he/she be working with the public, do you want them to have retail experience, are you willing to train someone who is new to the industry?  If you don’t have these things worked out in your mind or better yet, on paper, the odds decrease that you will make a...

Project Management – Think Backwards

Got a big project to complete?  How will you approach it?  What are the steps?  Well…here’s an idea.  Work backwards! How do most people approach a big project?  They just start.  They do something, anything, that makes them feel like they have taken a step toward their goal.  They do a little bit here and a little bit there, and hope that all those bits will eventually come together as a completed task.  And sometimes they do actually produce something, but probably not in the most efficient manner and probably not without undue frustration. My dad once took a car engine completely apart, down to the last bolt and nut, cleaned each piece, then put the whole thing back together.  He wasn’t a mechanic, although admittedly he had a decent understanding of a combustion engine.  Nevertheless, he had well over a hundred parts that had to go back together in a certain order, for the engine to run.  I always wondered how he did that.  And I think I finally learned how. You see, as he was taking that car apart, he had to think about how it would go back together.  He didn’t organize the parts by what when in first, but by what went in last.  In other words, he worked backwards.  In essence, he arranged the pieces in the order of what went in right before the car was finished, and what went in right before that, and right before that and so on, until the car was an organized string of parts on the garage floor. So what if you took on a project in...

What’s in your management toolbox?

For many, understanding financial statements is like putting together a puzzle with no picture.  It’s daunting, or nonsensical, or only vaguely has meaning.  How do you make your financial statements into a tool for managing your cannabusiness?  It takes an investment in expertise to create the tool, and an investment of your time to learn how to use it. Having worked in healthcare for many years, I had numerous opportunities to present financial information to physicians.  Most physicians had never seen a financial statement before they went into practice, and usually their eyes glazed over when we started our review.  They wanted information badly, because they knew there was a direct correlation between the information on the page and how much money they made.  They also knew that the financial success of the practice was directly related to their individual productivity, but again, they couldn’t see the connection.  It was my job to illustrate the connections in a way that was simple and clear without requiring a lot of their time to grasp.  I had to provide the picture and show them how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. So how did I do it?  Basically I put together a “money” flow chart.   I started with their productivity, say the number of surgeries they performed, which then led to how much income they brought into the practice.  From there I showed them the expenses that reduced their income in the practice, resulting in a net income that they could count on to take home to their family.  I categorized expenses in such a way as they could see...