Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.
The Best Primer to Learn Pharmacy Entrepreneurship
Anna Garrett is the co-founder of Medipreneurs and her story shows how it’s possible to move through multiple practice areas and ultimately use the skills you learn to create your own business in pharmacy and business consulting. Be sure to reach the end, because Anna was generous enough to provide a special gift to HPD readers!
Anna is an experienced pharmacist who has made her career by accomplishing whatever someone told her she couldn’t do. In her early career, she created a position as a clinical coordinator in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine despite being told she would never be able to do so with a BS degree. She created this position as her residency project, then pursued her PharmD degree at UNC.
Anna left that job to become Merck’s HIV specialist for the entire state of North Carolina before the travel became too much. She then opted for technical writing and part-time work at a community hospital instead. It was there that she met the medical director for Cornerstone Healthcare, who invited her to start clinical pharmacy services for the physician’s group. Despite having no ambulatory care or anticoagulation experience, Anna accepted. Within the first week of operation, she had 100 new referrals and would ultimately grow the service to four pharmacists and a dietitian in two cities.
Her last stop in the corporate world was at Mission Hospital as the manager of clinical outpatients services. Each of her professional experiences gave her new skills that she was able to use when she decided to create her own business in 2011.
Anna is not afraid of new challenges and credits it as the source of her success as an entrepreneur.
Riches in the niches
Anna created a niche online business in hormone management. She works with women in mid-life who wrestle with the symptoms of hormone imbalance by offering testing, creating customized management plans based on lifestyle change and supplementation, and collaborating with physicians when bioidentical hormones are required. Anna also provides epigenetic coaching and a weight-loss program.
Anna chose one problem, one niche, and focused on it to help others. She was able to turn her side hustle into a full-time business.
There are many niche markets that pharmacists have created businesses around. A few examples include thyroid patients, patients with post-quinolone syndrome, weight loss and travel medicine. Anna and these pharmacists have proven that small markets can result in big rewards. There really is no limit to what you can do. Anna believes that the key is to find an avenue where people are willing to pay cash for services rather than relying on the insurance model.
Anna and the two co-founders of Medipreneurs, Sue Paul and Michelle Fritsch, laugh now at how they formulated the idea for their business. Sue and Anna were chatting over breakfast at an IHOP about how lonely it can be as a solo entrepreneur. This sparked the idea to host an event for pharmacy entrepreneurs. It took two years to plan and a major financial commitment on their part, but in April of 2018, the long-awaited event happened.
Steep learning curve
It certainly wasn’t easy. The website and the marketing plan both took much longer than expected. With only eleven people registered to attend on their first attempt, they were forced to reschedule the entire event. The infrastructure just wasn’t ready.
It turned out to be a blessing in hindsight because they were able to build their infrastructure first and then focus their efforts on marketing. Anna remembers feeling so overwhelmed and grateful when it was all over. The event was a smashing success and seventy percent of the attendees from last year are returning for 2019.
Despite losing money on the event - something they expected going into it - Anna and her coworkers were humbled by the enthusiasm of the participants and they are excited for the new year. The lesson to be learned is that growing a new business, despite your best efforts, can take much longer than you expect and have lots of twists and turns. Don’t be discouraged!
The Medipreneurs Summit
The Medipreneurs Summit was created with programs for entrepreneurs, as well as intrapreneurs - those who are in a health system or business where they can be creative but still get a paycheck.
Attendees range from people in startups, to people with their own established business, to those in academia. Anna hopes that people will leave with renewed enthusiasm, great contacts and a better understanding of business principles.
This year, Lisa Larter is back as the keynote speaker. She will focus her talk on embracing teh future of pharmacy. There are 7 breakout sessions that focus on everything from publishing as a platform to grow your business (Erin Albert), building resilience (Ashlee Hayes) and preparing for ACPE requirements around entrepreneurship (George Zorich). There’s something for everyone!
The long-term vision for Medipreneurs is to offer regional coaching or mastermind conferences and training programs for pharmacists. The face of pharmacy is changing. People will be actively looking for ways to put the ‘care’ back into ‘patient care’. Anna hopes to provide services that will enrich both pharmacists and their patients.
Explore your options.
If you feel like you are just a cog in the machine, it is time to change. It is not likely that any of us became pharmacists because we had the dream of making more money for a large retail chain.
It is not why we joined the profession. The time and money spent on your degree should equate to a profession that you enjoy.
The biggest benefit of the Medipreneurs Summit is the framework that it offers. It provides a model of how you can create a system to help people and to earn money in the process. Not everyone has to become an entrepreneur but the information offered will help you in whatever field you choose.
Anna encourages everyone to think about their practice outside the box. Think about what is available to you that will allow you to change the way you practice or to gain more personal satisfaction.
The next Medipreneurs Summit will be held in Asheville, NC, from April 26-28, and will begin with a casual networking reception on Friday night. Registration information, as well as the complete schedule and a list of speakers, can be found at Medipreneurs.com.
Anna is also happy to announce a registration fee discount of $100 for HappyPharmD listeners! Use discount code ‘HPD’ at checkout. Don’t delay - it expires 3/31!