Can you selectively diversify your pharmacy day job?
What heart attacks teach us about business success
In cardiology it is well understood that the heart builds ‘collateral’ arteries, an alternative path for blood to flow around a blockage acting like a detour, to prevent a heart attack.
A colleague of mine is a great pharmacist and entrepreneur. He built a blot clot prevention program by collecting patient bloodwork, dosing their cardiac drugs according to lab results and communicating his decisions back to their physicians within a pre-set algorithm. The program served hundreds of patients efficiently, saved family doctors precious hours in their week and earned him a robust, new revenue source. So why did it go under?
The problem was the drug was warfarin, which was replaced by a class of newer anticoagulants in a swoop of less than a year. He invested years building the program and he pushed his traditional pharmacy business aside with little to show for it in the end.
The lesson: diversity. He failed to maintain enough collaterals in his business to sustain revenue and he closed shop 14 months later.
In witnessing this, I understood I needed to not only have a solid business plan, but to also build some collaterals to protect myself and those who depend on me. The trick would be to avoid adding to my work portfolio with random gigs since the side-effects would be unpredictable and torturous. Unrelated collaterals would also dilute my main day job instead of make it stronger. Collaterals needed to be selective.
Knowing that diversity with selectivity was the answer, I tried to establish collaterals that were close to my core values and involve skills from my main artery (without straying too far from my subject matter expertise). Having too many unrelated pieces to juggle would dilute the business stream I already had, having my work be mediocre and reactive at a bunch of things.
How could I build diverse collaterals while being selective?
For the past five years my work portfolio has been a mix of corporate and independent pharmacy work. I have a day job at a corporate pharmacy as a practising pharmacist/pharmacy manager that I spend close to 40 hours per week at and own two pharmacies well outside of the trading area to avoid any conflict of interest. It is a unique opportunity that has given me deeper insight into the profession and has made me a better pharmacist as a result.
In the process of managing the day-to-day challenges of these traditional pharmacy roles, I have developed a practice of journaling through challenges, which led me to develop a leadership and wellness platform for pharmacists called Layered Leadership. The platform has me writing a weekly blog for Canadian Healthcare Network, speaking at pharmacy conferences, running an evergreen online course, providing specialized one-on-one coaching and developing practice tools for pharmacists and their teams.
I know: “What… how?”
There is definitely a point to be made of my craziness and a conversation about surrounding ourselves with great people and finely-tuned systems but that is another discussion altogether.
The theme up for discussion is another one: selective diversification.
Think about what you are good at. Zoom out to capture vaguer view of what you do that is loved by your current boss. Next, list those skills and ask yourself how you can develop a collateral revenue stream using them. Not only are these skills something you are good at, but they are practical in topics you enjoy thinking about. When the work day is done, do you still like practising that skill? That is a potential collateral.
That collateral must be closely linked to what you do without conflicting with it, yet it must not be so different that it is of another world where you are not an expert. That world would take away too much of your time and energy, diluting your initial mainstream day job.
How can you selectively diversify to generate revenue collaterals?
Can your skills create a new service offering within your current pharmacy?
Do you have a side passion that you can pull into the pharmacy that you can share with patients?
Can any of your current pharmacy skills be shared in an automated way online for others to purchase?