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'Just do it': Five tips for starting a booming pharmacy business

Reece Samani draws on his own experiences to help you kickstart the pharmacy business you've always dreamed of

My name is Reece Samani. I’m a pharmacist and I own three businesses: an online pharmacy, Signature Pharmacy; an e-prescription tool, Signature Rx; and Lopic, an HR solution and scheduling system in the healthcare space. As a result of my work with these companies, I recently made the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Read more: Pharmacist ‘honoured’ to score place on Forbes 30 Under 30 list

I want to share some invaluable lessons I've learned through my years as an entrepreneur. There is a lot more than this to starting your own business, but here are my top five pieces of advice: 


1. Create products and services that put customers first


I think this is the most important tip. When I started, my goals weren't money-oriented, they were customer-driven – and that’s continued to this date.

I was genuinely excited when Signature Pharmacy first delivered medication to a customer; I was thrilled when SignatureRx changed the experience for users from paper and fax to a digital prescription picked up at a local pharmacy; and I now get real satisfaction seeing pharmacists at Lopic booking locum jobs without an agency. 

Read more: Online pharmacy expansion secures ‘six-figure’ backing from HSBC UK

In pharmacy, creating customer-first products or services will only add value to the patient experience – things like sending patients a text message when their prescription is ready, or how creating a mobile app so they can manage their repeats when they’re busy.

The in-store experience could be personalised, for example by remembering patients' names. There’s an opportunity to offer services that provide convenience such as travel clinics or patient group directions (PGDs) that will encourage them to visit your pharmacy.


2. Adopt a ‘just do it’ approach


When it comes to business, I tend to jump into things, sometimes more than I should. I think taking risks goes hand-in-hand with having a business, but this approach has meant I’ve built a lot in a small space of time.

Read more: Back to the future: Are locum rates really higher than they've ever been?

It has come with limitations; I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way. However, I truly believe that making mistakes is the fastest way to build and grow personally – as long as you’re learning from them and moving on.

So you’re thinking of implementing that new software that will free up time for other clinical services? Like I did with Lopic, just do it. Or are you thinking of that new service you want to introduce, but you aren’t sure? Go for it.


3. Make sure you love what you are working on


When I launched my first big business, Signature Pharmacy, the business just got by for four years. I was the pharmacist during the day and I started doing the deliveries myself in the evenings.

Read more: The app making new connections between locums and pharmacy owners

I had countless rejections when I pitched my ideas to companies, and I didn’t have the budget for advertising spend to grow the patient base. I didn’t mind putting in the hours because I genuinely loved every moment.

New projects might not be an overnight success, but I think following through with them is important. And if you love what you’re working on, that becomes a lot easier.


4. Find time for yourself and take breaks


I only learned this one this year. After years of only taking weekend-long holidays, I spent a few weeks away this year. Admittedly, some breaks were working holidays, but by giving myself that time, I had more drive to focus on the business when I got back. 

Read more: How can community pharmacy seize the booming private healthcare opportunity?


5. Build a strong support network


Running a business can feel lonely sometimes, especially if you don’t have a huge team around you. Going to networking events and speaking to other entrepreneurs made me realise that I wasn’t alone. It’s also a great way to hear about how other people manage their businesses and to take inspiration.


Reece Samani is CEO of The Locum App and SignatureRx


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