If you’re a woman who has been thinking about becoming a pharmacy owner, now is the right time. As a pharmacist, you know that work-life balance can be hard to achieve. But being your own boss can offer the flexibility you’re searching for.

Running your own independent pharmacy also gives you more ways to make a difference in your community. When you’re an owner, you can think more strategically about how to build stronger relationships with your patients, and how to give them even better care.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to stop thinking about starting your own pharmacy and to start making it happen. Let me outline the steps you need to take on your journey to pharmacy ownership.

Starting your pharmacy ownership journey

When you have the desire to own your own independent pharmacy, pursue that desire. Here are a few pointers to get you started and help turn your dream into a reality.

  • Educate yourself on pharmacy ownership. Being a great pharmacist doesn’t mean that you’ll be a great pharmacy owner. Through seminars and workshops, learn all you can about what it takes to run a successful business. This includes pharmacy and financial planning, managing others, marketing and goal setting.
  • Network with other owners. Forge connections with independent pharmacy owners to get a real-world view of what it takes to succeed.
  • Connect with a mentor. The number of female independent pharmacy owners is growing. Women are eager to share their experiences and best practices with other women who are interested in ownership.
  • Attend state and local events. Your national and state pharmacy associations sponsor a number of events throughout the year. There, you can network, meet potential mentors and learn more about ownership.
  • Follow pharmacy associations on social media. National and state associations share information on their social media channels, as do independent pharmacy owners. Follow them to stay on top of ownership issues, trends and opportunities.

These five tips apply whether you’re fresh out of pharmacy school or have been working behind the counter for 20 years. It’s never too late to decide you want a change.

Common pharmacy ownership misperceptions

Here are some misperceptions that you shouldn’t let stop you on your way to starting your own pharmacy.

  • Others won’t take you seriously. Independent pharmacy ownership has historically been a male-dominated profession, but that is changing. Be confident and fearless. Take pride in your accomplishments.
  • It’s all work and no life. The thought of running a pharmacy while managing all the other responsibilities you have may seem overwhelming. The work-life balance you’re looking for is very possible when you put the right team in place. Good people will give you the flexibility you need.
  • Male owners won’t sell to women. I often deal with male owners, and I don’t think this misconception has ever been true. Sellers choose their buyers largely based on price, although many also are interested in maintaining the pharmacy’s independent legacy within their communities. In such cases, independent buyers will have an edge over a chain, but gender doesn’t really enter into the decision of who to sell to.

Getting help from an ownership advisor

Now that you know that owning your own independent pharmacy is an achievable goal, what should you do? One of the first things you should do is to start working with a pharmacy ownership advisor on things like:

  • Finding a desirable location or market
  • Selecting potential pharmacies to buy in that location or market
  • Developing your own business and financial plan
  • Arranging a wholesaler or distributor to supply your pharmacy
  • Contracting with health plans to ensure reimbursement for drugs
  • Working with an attorney on due diligence, licenses and legal contracts
  • Hiring an accountant to help you track and manage your finances

Your ownership advisor can help guide you on your pharmacy ownership journey. You don’t have to go it alone. As I said earlier, there is no better time for a female pharmacist like you to own an independent pharmacy. The resources are there. The opportunities are there. Now it’s up to you to make the leap.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s Women in Pharmacy—Own It program

Tammy McDonald

About the author

Tammy McDonald is the regional vice president for RxOwnership at McKesson. In this role, Tammy is responsible for assisting pharmacists throughout the Northeast region with buying, selling and starting up an independent pharmacy. She has more than 22 years of experience working with independent pharmacies. Tammy also leads the RxOwnership Women in Pharmacy program.

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