Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.

How One Pharmacist Built a Side-Business to Fund Education

MARCH 07, 2017

Sadiq Prasla is a pharmacist in the greater Houston area. He graduated from my alma mater the same year that I did, but after working for 3 years as a pharmacist he felt that something was missing from his life. He knew he wanted to do something bigger than his day job would allow, but he couldn't quite put a finger on what it should be.

He reached out to me in early 2016 and asked about how I created some of my side businesses. We started working together in May 2016 to help him find his true calling. We met weekly via Skype and I asked him tough questions that no one else was asking him, such as:
·     If you could have all the money you would ever need, what would you do?
·     What has brought the most fulfillment into your life?
·     If there was one problem that you would like to solve in your life, what would it be?

Sadiq thought for a long time. He considered all the different things that he could do with his spare time. He wanted to start a business, but he wanted it to be a business that would make a difference in people's lives—not just something that would bring him extra cash every month (although the extra cash would, or course, be appreciated!).

Sadiq first thought that he could create a business around a service, such as providing website maintenance or writing articles for medical companies, but those options didn't interest him at all. He considered selling products, but he didn't find anything that he really felt would make a difference in someone's life.

Fear of Failure
Sadiq was overcome with fear that he might choose the wrong idea and that it would fall flat. He asked himself, "What if I choose a business idea and it doesn't go anywhere?"

Let's follow the logic here. Our "hearts" protect us from failure. You see, as we grow up, we're taught that failure is awful. If we raise our hands in class and answer the question incorrectly, there's shame involved. Failure is not something to be celebrated; rather, it's something to be feared. As pharmacists, we're taught that giving a person the wrong medication is the ultimate failure and something that few can bounce back from when a mistake is made.

A simple exercise that Sadiq and I used to overcome his fear is from Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Ferriss recommends imagining the very worst outcome of a particular failure. More often than not, the worst possible outcome is actually not that bad and could even have a “bright side” or a good outcome.

Think about yourself. Think about some of the worst things that have happened in your life and how those have made you a stronger person. My wife lost her father when she was 12 years old and yes, it was an awful experience and something that has left a hole in her life. But that powerful experience has led her to help so many other men and women who have lost people in their own lives.

The Path to Success
Just as manure is needed to feed the next generation of crops, failure sometimes can be seen as the path to success.

One of the ideas that Sadiq and I talked about was selling neckties as a subscription service. This isn't exactly a novel idea because there are plenty of businesses out there that do this. However, the presence of other similar services validated his idea and showed that he could do it on the side.

Sadiq worked 7 days on and 7 days off as a pharmacist. During his days off, he could spend his time marketing, promoting, and packaging his ties. The worst possible scenario for failure would be having to sell a few hundred ties on Amazon or eBay, or have a garage sale to make his money back. But that fear of choosing the idea paralyzed him for quite some time. One day, Sadiq finally decided to break through that fear and choose his tie-subscription idea, but it still didn't resonate with him. He didn't feel like the business was something that could really give his life more meaning.

Finding Meaning
Tony Robbins says that one of the 6 needs of all humans is a need for contribution, or to feel like we're giving back to society. The need for contribution is the highest level of need that we have. Sadiq was really looking for something that he could do that would bring meaning to his life.

Weeks after thinking, writing and talking, Sadiq found his life calling during a disaster in his home country. Sadiq said:
"I Googled how many people lived in India during the disaster. I realized how many people were not educated in my home country and thought, ‘If only we had more education, then we could solve so many of these issues. There would be more engineers, more policemen, more architects, more doctors and more people to help solve so many of these problems.' But it feels impossible to change a billion lives. You feel hopeless to even try to make a dent in that kind of problem. However, if you educate more people, who in turn can educate even more people, it's not a one-person problem anymore. You don't see many trying to fix the education problem, which is why I created Beyond Ties. After research I found that India was not the only country that had millions without education, there were lots and lots of countries where children lacked access to education. Some even worst than India. After looking at statistics for Ghana, I decided to raise $35,000 to build a school in Ghana. To fully fund one, we need to raise $35,000 and we can do that because we will give a portion of our proceeds directly to Pencils of Promise, which will build a school in 2017."

Sadiq launched Beyond Ties in December 2016 with the goal to raise $35,000 in 2017. This will fully fund one school built by Pencils of Promise. Sadiq has been on a wild ride and the journey has only just begun, but he's confident in knowing that he is not just going to help professionals look good in ties (although everyone wants to look good, right?). He's also happy to know that his business is making a difference in the world and it isn't something that is going to take over his whole life. It's something that he does on the side when he's not working his pharmacy job.
Want to support your fellow pharmacist side-business and get a $25 tie for $10? Use this coupon code (PHA10) and get $30 off your subscription for the first 2 months.

Do you want to build a business with purpose like Sadiq? Take action today. Take one step at a time. Conquer the fear of failure by saying, "I'm just going to take one step." Stephen King doesn't write a whole novel in one day. He writes it one word at a time. Take one step today. If you'd like to learn how I created 3 side-businesses (as a full-time pharmacist) and help other pharmacists do the same, please follow me on my website alexbarker.co



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