Alan Polnariev answered “How Much Can a Masters Degree Enhance Your Career?
” articulating the advantages and disadvantages of gaining a postgraduate formal education. But what opportunities are out there for pharmacy professionals to become a sidepreneur without a degree?
A full-time entrepreneur is a forward thinking business owner. An intrapreneur is an entrepreneur in their own full-time job. A sidepreneur has the full-time job, but works outside the job with an entrepreneurial mindset. Pharmacists, especially floater pharmacists, often have odd and sometimes unpredictable hours, working weekends and evenings, leaving openings of time, but not the stability in schedule to maintain another part-time job. I’ve found success combining these 3 positions and a pharmacy job. Each provided different levels of replacement salary such that if I wanted, I could work less hours at the pharmacy or enjoy the financial safety of not relying 100% on one company’s income.
The pharmacist’s path is often one of challenging classes in math and the sciences. While a person can go out on their own and find tutoring opportunities, I chose to work with a national test preparation company getting trained in best practices. I had a lot of satisfaction in working unhurriedly one-on-one with a student. Much of what makes for a satisfying career is being able to see progress and with this work, I would hear back about these students’ successes. As we mutually agreed to tutoring times, it was relatively easy to keep both positions working in tandem. With this path I could replace 1 of the 5 days a week in pharmacist pay providing the variety that kept me engaged in both positions.
Working one-on-one as a tutor provided great satisfaction, but this is not a scalable enterprise without bringing on other people. As an e-book, print, and audiobook author I was able to start sharing what I knew with thousands of students and continue to refine the value I gave them. I didn’t put my how to book out there and hope to be discovered; rather, I took many of the lessons from Theresa Morrow’s “9 Tips: A Guide to Using Social Media Management Tools
” to engage with my readers and other professionals in the field.
With so much information on Google and other search engines, a non-fiction book needs to create an innovative solution to a problem. One opportunity came from helping students who needed to learn pharmacology, but did not have organic chemistry. My personal recommendation is to write the e-book first as a script for an audiobook. I’ve written and published the print book only to get great ideas from other people that I wanted to include. By writing the e-book and getting feedback first, I could later incorporate those ideas into the print book and audiobook. With my writing, I’ve been able to replace 2 days a week in regular pharmacist pay.
The only position I had after pharmacy school that could completely replace my pharmacist’s salary was working as a real estate salesperson. In truth, the spirit of the work was not much different than my work as a pharmacist. I educated my clients, made calls and negotiated on their behalf, and got them through the highs and lows of an emotional event. Eighty percent of real estate salespeople now work from home.
As with the years preparing before and after pharmacy, I needed an education to become a valuable advocate for my clients. Real estate classes satisfied a minimum state requirement, but to learn how to build a client base and work at the highest level in a completely different industry, I needed business coaching. The coaching provided me with the systems to build the contact, care, and community necessary to succeed at such a level that I paid off my student loans with a single check. As my success grew in the new profession, I was able to depend less and less on the pharmacy paycheck, but my goal was never to leave pharmacy forever. Rather, it was to have the flexibility to take a position I wanted and the security to have secondary income that didn’t put my financial house at risk with only one stream of income.
I agree with Alan Polnariev that the statement “education never hurts” can be misleading. If the education lacks a reasonable return on investment, it can make a bad situation worse. As a tutor, I had paid training, as an author and salesperson; I invested a few hundred dollars in workshops and coaching that made me better at my craft. I think many pharmacists don’t necessarily know what their sidepreneur path will be, but by keeping the investment low, the risk remains low as well.