If you’re a pharmacist, your career path may have been clearly drawn out for you for as long as you can remember. There is nothing wrong with working behind the counter at a well-known pharmacy chain. Pharmacies are among essential businesses; even as recession hits, the demand will remain more or less stable, so job security does not have to be among your primary worries.
However, you should be aware that working for someone else is not the only option out there for an ambitious pharmacist that has a knack for business. Some people may believe that the altruistic motives possessed by someone in the healthcare sector are—and should be—mutually exclusive with a businessperson-like disposition. However, they don’t have to be. If you manage to find the right balance, you can both be a pharmacist and a businessman at the same time. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
A challenging task
Every business operates within a certain economic constraint. With pharmacy being a service profession and a business that needs to remain profitable at the same time, it is not hard to imagine the complexity of the conflict. Realizing this ongoing competition between the two sides is the first step towards building a pharmacy that can hit that golden balance which is the only way to make this business viable for both parties involved.
You don’t have to—nor can you—denounce one side in favour of the other, but you indeed need to be self-aware. Being the one in control can, in fact, give you more authority in this question, as opposed to working as an employee who needs to follow the policies of the organization they are dependent on. Make sure you lead the right way, thus.
Learn about the local community
Open your pharmacy where it’s needed—it’s as simple as that. Or is it? If you want to set your pharmacy up for success, you’ll need to tap deeper into your entrepreneurial side and truly understand the market before making any decisions. Market research is indispensable for any kind of business. However, taking your research a step further and truly learning about the needs of the local community is what will take you closer to them as individuals.
Remember why you chose this profession. Whether your reasons are mostly altruistic or not, there is no doubt that bringing people what they need is the answer, and the better you do it, the more customers will be compelled to choose your pharmacy over your competition. Conduct surveys if necessary but be sure you know exactly what the locals need.
A tailored experience
While a portion of the pharmacist community may not look favourably at the practice of selling products that are not strictly of medical nature, if offering cosmetics and other drugstore items in your pharmacy is what will boost the foot traffic, it is a completely acceptable decision. Offering such products can only widen your customer base. When those customers who purchase those things from you will eventually need pharmaceutical products, they will already have a trusted pharmacy they can turn to.
At the same time, you will need to keep up with the times and offer first-class drugs to keep up with your competition. Keep your expansion sustainable but think further than the bare necessities. True pharmapreneurs pursue new opportunities and are willing to take risks to fulfil growing needs. So, keep your establishment on the cutting edge and consider equipping it with Thermoline Scientific Equipment like refrigerators for storing temperature-sensitive drugs.
Working with the right people
Just like in any other kind of business, the importance of employing the right workforce cannot be emphasized enough. In fact, this may be especially crucial in a pharmaceutical context where you want to keep an appropriate balance between the scales. As an employer, looking for employees that share your values and will understand your goals is paramount. They need to have the right pharmaceutical ethics for the integrity of your business. However, this works the other way around as well. Your employees need to understand that the competitiveness of the pharmacy industry makes it indispensable that they assume a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit for the pharmacy to be able to grow and offer even better services in the future.
At the end of the day, they need to be people who know how to follow instructions. If you manage to find the right people, don’t hesitate to invest in them further and nurture a strong work collective.
Benefits for both sides
You will find that in certain situations, your pharmacist side and businessperson side can coexist and even thrive. In these cases, there is a clear benefit for both sides. Think of practices like stocking your pharmacy with products that are effective and steering clear of things that you know would not bring the desired result for your customers. Developing the right way to practice up- and cross-selling when a better alternative or an appropriate complement exists is also a smart thing to do.
As a pharmacist, the health of your customers is a priority. The aforementioned practices respect this ideal while not wreaking havoc on the economic side of your business. If a certain drug causes nutrient deficiencies, for instance, recommending the appropriate supplement to your customer will boost your trustworthiness, too.
A better understanding of the wider healthcare context in which the complex conflicts between ethics and profitability exist in the pharmacy industry is paramount if you are to build a solid business that maintains what the core of this industry should be. At the same time, you need to assume a businessperson-like attitude for your pharmacy to remain profitable. It is by no means easy, but it’s the only viable way to do it.
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