As independent pharmacies continue to grow and expand, more and more pharmacy professionals are looking to make the transition from pharmacist to pharmacy owner. Entering the world of ownership is an exciting time, filled with possibilities that are otherwise unmatched. Ownership allows you to branch out from other pharmacies, make decisions for yourself and your business, and create a plan for how you want to serve your patients — all according to your vision.

At the same time, though, ownership can present its fair share of challenges: whether with securing your finances, building your team, or knowing what steps to take and in what order. Pharmacy ownership is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it takes the right kind of person, with the right kind of perspective and direction.

If you are interested in ownership, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. Ask yourself these key questions to help determine whether or not ownership is right for you and decide how to continue in the world of pharmacy.

And, for those who decide to continue on the path to ownership, consult our comprehensive How to Open a Pharmacy page. The page breaks down ownership into three simple stages — including planning and preparing, building the foundation of your business, and getting your pharmacy up and running — to help make the process simple and easy to understand.

With these resources, you can make a powerful step forward in your career and start the journey towards ownership.

Questions to Consider

1. Do I have the experience needed to start a pharmacy?

Most pharmacy owners have years, sometimes even decades, of experience in the industry. The majority of these pharmacists don’t start their road to ownership until well into their careers, after spending many years in practice. Before starting your own journey, then, it is first important to learn the ins and outs of pharmacy in a real-world setting, usually by working under someone else who can teach you the tricks and trade of the business.

With more knowledge and experience under your belt, you can make a more informed decision about owning and opening your own pharmacy. If you are already experienced in the industry and feel that you have a strong grasp of how a pharmacy functions, ownership may be an option for you. If you feel that you have gaps in knowledge or that you need more time to get to know your craft, however, consider getting more experience and then coming back to the question of ownership at a later time.

2. Do I have the necessary finances?

On average, starting a pharmacy costs anywhere between $300,000 - 600,000 — which includes your space, insurance and licensing requirements, tools and equipment, inventory, initial staff salaries, and other fees that come up along the way. There are several funding options for prospective pharmacy owners, including self-funding, venture capital investments, and small business loans; but the process of getting these funds can be both confusing and time-consuming.

If you are considering opening up your own pharmacy, know that ownership requires a large sum of money and that your starting investments may not pay off for several months or even years. 

However, with the right financing options, a money-conscious business plan, and guidance from a financial advisor who understands the specific goals of your business, you can build a profitable pharmacy that will generate a high return on investment. 

With this in mind, ask yourself whether or not you are prepared to deal with potential financial setbacks in getting your doors open and keeping them open. If you are willing to take the risk, think further about the ownership process. If not, consider looking into other equally important positions in pharmacy.

3. Do I have the necessary resources?

Aside from finances, you need a number of other resources in order to get a pharmacy up and running. The most important resources, though, are time and connections. As far as time goes, opening up a pharmacy takes an average of 1-2 years. In this time, owners actively work to complete registration and requirements, set up their store and stock necessary supplies, and build and train their team. If you find that your schedule is too full to make such a large time commitment, pharmacy ownership may not be right for you. However, if you are willing to either set aside or free up time to create a business structure that will ultimately benefit your community, ownership may be a viable option.

In addition to time, connections are key to ownership. When starting a business of your own, it is important to surround yourself with other professionals who can offer you counsel — whether with legal, operational, or business matters. (Or even just moral support!) People in your network can offer you advice, answer your questions, and suggest ways for you to improve your practice, which are especially important when you are first getting started. If you like to make and maintain connections, ownership may be worth considering; but if you are someone who likes to work independently and struggles to collaborate with others, it may not.

4. Am I prepared to handle the business side of pharmacy?

While the focus of pharmacy is to provide patient-centered care, it is also true that pharmacy is a business — and without proper business management, it can not succeed. If you are passionate about patients but uninterested in the business side of the profession (including tasks like financing, marketing, reporting, maintaining requirements, and optimizing a business model), it may be smarter to stick to practicing pharmacy rather than owning a pharmacy. However, you can also consider investing in a talented team with the expertise to manage these things for you.

If you want to both serve patients and create a successful business from the ground up, ownership can give you that opportunity. It can expand your skills, deepen your experience, and give you more control over how you care for patients. As you transition from your role as a pharmacist to a pharmacy owner, you can call on your team of legal and financial advisors to help you make the best decisions for running your business.

You don’t have to be a pro at business to be an owner of a business, but you do have to be committed to putting in the work to make it succeed.

5. Am I able to lead a team?

When you take the title of pharmacy owner, you also take on the role of team leader. Whether you are a pharmacist-in-charge or play a different part, if you own the pharmacy, you are responsible for all of the things that happen in it: in business and operations alike.

If you feel uncomfortable with the possibility of leading a team and taking on a new set of responsibilities, ownership may not be the best fit for you. If, on the other hand, you demonstrate strong leadership skills and feel confident in your ability to take your team to the next level, becoming an owner may be a promising career option.

6. Am I prepared to offer new and unique services?

The future of pharmacy is found in clinical care and specialized services. From offering compounding to medication synchronization to patient counseling programs, successful pharmacy owners work to accommodate the needs of their community with unique and enhanced services. These owners also see higher profit margins and better financial projections, considering that clinical care is one of the best ways to increase revenue.

Specialized services are one of the most innovative ways that pharmacy is growing and changing for the better. If you are interested in being a part of this innovation, passionate about seeking out new services, and willing to put in the work to implement them into your pharmacy, ownership is a good choice.

7. Do I have the right mindset for ownership?

While there are many expectations for potential owners and many indicators of their success, the most important factor in whether or not pharmacy ownership is right for you is your mindset.

Pharmacy owners, especially independent pharmacy owners, must have a number of qualities in their toolbox in order to be successful. These include adaptability, flexibility, innovation, and genuine concern for the people they serve. At their core, pharmacy owners want to create healthy communities and are willing to go the extra mile to do so. At the same time, they are committed to being successful and willing to put in the necessary steps to make their vision come to life. A pharmacy owner’s mindset should be forward-thinking, business-minded, and patient-centered. If you have these, you are already set up for success.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Having considered some of the most important questions of ownership, spend some time thinking about what’s next for you and your career in pharmacy. When reading through each of the questions, if you find yourself answering “no” more often than not, you may decide that pharmacy ownership may not be a good fit for you at this time. However, ownership is only one role in a pharmacy — no more important than any other — and you can still serve patients by working in other valuable positions. Another thing to consider is co-ownership. Having a partner along your side can help you by splitting up the responsibilities and filling in the gaps where your skillset may be lacking.

If you mostly answered “yes” to the questions and feel confident about your potential as an owner, you are ready to move to the next step in owning and opening up your own pharmacy. For a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to get started, visit our How to Open a Pharmacy page. Find valuable information, access helpful resources, and get the answers you need to bring your dream to life.