Cannabis Q&A with Jonathan Monk


Describe your journey into the cannabis industry. How and when did it happen?

My journey into the Cannabis space started in 2014. I had sold my previous business, an event production company, and graduated college that same year. I started searching for a mentor to learn from and grow as an entrepreneur, and I found my current business partner, Claudia Post. Claudia was starting her new company, called Smokin’ Hot Solutions, and was hiring one employee. I applied and interviewed for that position and got the job.

We ran Smokin’ Hot Solutions for two years, at which time we started a separate company called Kannakart, which was an online head shop. We ran Kannakart for two years and then decided to put that company on pause and pick back up running Smokin’ Hot Solutions.

Smokin’ Hot started as a marketing and advertising company, and in 2018 we launched our design division, where we began to offer design and digital design services to cannabis clients. The following year in 2019, we rebranded as Most Consulting Group, at which point we launched our consulting and strategy division.

Fast forward to two and a half years later, and we are a full-service firm offering strategy, consulting, financial, marketing, advertising, and design services. We currently work with clients in over 25 states and Canada, Israel, the Bahamas, and the UK.

What makes Most Consulting Group unique?

Most Consulting Group is unique because we are the only firm of our kind in the cannabis industry. There are cannabis-specific design firms, PR firms, and marketing firms, but no firm currently has a complete marketing division, advertising division, strategy consulting division, and design division.

Our mission is to challenge the status quo, offer an expanded level of thinking, and achieve sustainable success for ourselves and our clients. Our approach to projects is different from other companies because we approach with the strategy first and then execute those strategies through marketing, advertising, and design.

We begin working with companies on the concept stage, helping them with the application process, raising capital, finding properties, developing security plans, and things of that nature. We also work with growing companies that are looking to take the next step.

We pride ourselves on always being available to our clients. If there’s an emergency late at night, you can always reach us. We are communicative, collaborative, and thoughtful, and our clients love working with us for all these reasons.

What is the most interesting or exciting project you’ve worked on over the last year?

We have worked on many great projects over the years. This year, as the world started to open back up in early 2021, many companies launched new products, entered new markets, and looked to expand their brand.

One of the most exciting projects we worked on this year is for a client called Good Earth Organics. They are based in Oregon and are producers of soil and nutrients used to grow cannabis plants. They hired us to help design their pitch deck and to assist in their newest fundraising round. GEO was also looking to revamp its brand image, rebrand its entire product line, and design new labels for a newly launched product.

We typically develop case studies that highlight fun projects that we work on. We are currently working on a case study to show the work we've done for GEO during this rebranding process, and I'm looking forward to sharing the results.

What challenges should cannabis business owners expect to face in their marketing and advertising efforts?

One of the greatest challenges that cannabis business owners face is legal restrictions around marketing and advertising, which we help navigate. There are also many restrictions that social media platforms and companies like Google put in place that restrict advertising for the industry. Cannabis companies hire us because we've been working through these problems for the last seven years and are experts in navigating the regulations.

What sources do you turn to for news and continued learning?

I often read the excellent cannabis business publications that are available in our industry. MJ Biz Daily and Cannabis Business Executive are two examples, and there are many print magazines and online news outlets.  I also subscribe to many industry email newsletters that I read daily.

Outside of the Cannabis industry, I read many online news outlets, and I use forums like Reddit. Occasionally, I'll watch the news on TV to stay on top of current issues. Learning is critical to me, as I think it should be for anyone. I'm currently taking my MBA at Penn State with a focus on management consulting, which I've always wanted to do and have recently found time to do.

As a business owner, you should always strive to add more tools to your arsenal that help you with problem-solving and decision-making, two of the most essential skills that a business owner needs.

What are the implications of adult-use markets rolling out for existing companies?

Many existing companies in medical states are looking to apply for adult-use licenses as they roll out the expanded programs. These are some of the many projects that we are currently helping our clients with. Most companies are very excited, as new adult-use markets will increase their target market and potential customer base.

We saw many benefits for consumers and business owners working in the Canadian market before and after adult-use legalization. I am very excited for more states in the US to start legalizing adult-use cannabis, as this will continue to grow the cannabis space and get it to where it should be.

Describe your perfect day at work.

My perfect day at work is beginning by taking check-in meetings with my employees, clients, and prospects and reviewing my calendar before the start of the day. I typically like to have most of my meetings before 3 PM so that I'm able to work on more extensive projects, proposals, and other things until about 8 or 9 PM.

As part of my MBA program, I have a couple of night classes per week and group projects, and I typically work on those after my work at Most is done for the day and on weekends. I find that I'm currently extremely busy, arguably the busiest I've ever been, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love working, I love my company, and I love learning. I wake up feeling excited every day.

What piece of advice would you give to prospective entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry?

Just get started. Many people talk about starting a business in the cannabis space, but it always seems like a daunting task, just like any other company or industry. You don't have to have all the answers, and you don't have to know how to navigate it off the bat, but you will figure out the rest along the way.

The Cannabis industry is an exciting, fresh space, and I encourage anyone thinking about starting a business in this space to do so. No day is the same, no market is the same, and the people involved in this industry are what make it great. It can be fruitful for anyone that sticks with it. Should you want any guidance on starting a business in this industry, I make myself available to you. I am always here to help.