Sign In
How to Work On (Not In) Your Pharmacy Business

How to Work On (Not In) Your Pharmacy Business by Elements magazine |

March 21, 2018

Inside: Sometimes pharmacy owners get caught up wanting to complete the everyday tasks of running the business. But for the good of your pharmacy business, you need to learn to let go.

Are you guilty of working in your pharmacy business more than you work on it?

For independent community pharmacy owners, the difference matters.

As a pharmacist, you probably get caught up helping with the day-to-day tasks at your pharmacy. It’s easy to just want to get stuff done. You fill prescriptions, monitor ordering, and counsel patients.

But you also likely feel stressed, exhausted, and frustrated. And like you’re being pulled in every direction.

It’s easy to forget that you’re also the executive of your business. You’re the CEO. You’re the president. Or, the founder. (Maybe all three.)

The majority of your job should consist of running your business and planning for the long-term. Not restocking the robot because you’re down a staff member.

What’s the Difference Between Working In and Working On Your Pharmacy Business?

Small business owners work in two ways: in their business or on their business.

Working in your business means working as an employee would. Putting products on the shelves. Ringing up patients’ purchases. And, filling prescriptions.

Working on your business means working to improve your business’s success. Planning goals and objectives for the future. Coming up with marketing ideas. Looking for new business opportunities. And, mapping out strategies.

It will take time to transition from a doer to an executive. But you can refocus your role for the good of your pharmacy business.

Here’s Why Your Pharmacy Business Needs a CEO More Than It Needs Another Pharmacist.

Without the critical thinking endeavors that only a CEO can perform, your business could stagnate.

Anyone can put away the shipment of pharmaceuticals that just arrived. But only you can look for new business opportunities, initiate the rebranding of the pharmacy, or expand your pharmacy business to a second location.

When you delegate the tasks you once did to your pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and clerical staff, you’ll have more time.

So, you can think creatively about the future, figure out solutions, and work on increasing revenues. And, your business will be more apt to grow.

“To grow a business, you have to replace yourself,” said Nick Smock, Pharm.D., MBA, President and CEO of PBA Health, an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent community pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.

“When I first came to PBA Health, I was managing the operations, finance, sales, marketing—everything. I soon realized that to grow the business and to improve service for our customers, I needed to replace myself with those who were more capable of doing those things.”

5 Ways to Work On Your Pharmacy Business Right Now

As a small business owner, you probably can’t completely stop working in your pharmacy.

You have patients who want your advice. And, only you have the business skills to complete certain tasks.

But your job is to find the balance between working in and working on your business. These strategies can help you get started.

1. Hire the right pharmacy employees

If you don’t hire the right people, then you’ll continue having to work in the day-to-day operations of your pharmacy.

Hire employees with the right attitude and capabilities to get the work done. So, you won’t need to watch them constantly.

Hire people who you know will be accountable, make decisions, and take responsibility.

Small- to mid-sized businesses perform better when their employees care about the business. Choose pharmacy employees who you trust and who you know will want to see your pharmacy business thrive.

Also, let experts do what you can’t.

Get an accountant if your books are a mess. Hire a marketing company to design your website or marketing campaigns. Ask a pharmacy technician who understands Facebook and Twitter to update your pharmacy’s social media pages.

Utilizing experts will free up your time. And, experts will complete those tasks more skillfully and efficiently than you could.

2. Train, educate, and share experiences with your employees

If you don’t properly train your employees, then they won’t know what you expect of them. And, you’ll need to constantly supervise them.

Here’s how to train your employees well:


Clarifying responsibilities will improve your pharmacy’s workflow and productivity. It will also free up your time to focus on other tasks.

But don’t forget to learn from your employees, too. You don’t have all of the answers. Ask your employees about their opinions and suggestions to improve your pharmacy business for patients and for employees.

3. Set policies, processes, and procedures

Do you want your pharmacy to run smoothly when you’re not there?

Set standard processes and procedures for your employees to follow.

Every time something goes wrong, ask yourself how you could avoid that problem in the future.

Did a pharmacy tech accidentally make a HIPAA violation? Then, maybe you need more comprehensive HIPAA training.

Was a patient unhappy about a long wait time? Perhaps you need a procedure for that. Employees need to know the protocol for handling problems like this. Should they offer a verbal apology? A discount? An apology letter?

Set standards by creating an employee handbook. Also, write out employee training and procedures in detail.

4. Delegate tasks to your pharmacy employees

Once you have the right people and processes in place, you can let go of running many aspects of your pharmacy.

Often, business owners think that their employees can’t do tasks as well or as quickly as they can.

While this may ring true, growing a business requires you to step away from the everyday.

Occasional small mistakes will happen. But you can afford to fix occasional mistakes. You can’t afford to lose sight of the big picture of your business by trying to do all the little things. Don’t be the factor that limits your pharmacy’s success.

5. Set up your pharmacy business for future growth

When you get away from the day-to-day of running your pharmacy business, you can plan for the future and make strategic decisions.

But you have to want to leave your comfort zone and disengage from everyday operations.

Nobody is going to force you.

Start by taking a day or two to physically get away from your business every quarter. Use that time to think about the hard decisions as a CEO.

“It’s difficult to predict where the direction of pharmacy is going. But as a business owner and a professional, you need to analyze, research, and experiment to improve your business,” Smock said.

Think about what you can do to increase revenue and stay efficient.

Ask yourself these questions:


Work on answering the big picture questions more often and you’ll improve the chances for your pharmacy business to grow and thrive.


Want more pharmacy business tips and advice? Sign up for our e-newsletter.



Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!



Sign up to receive the weekly Elements e-newsletter for bonus business tips and advice.

find out more