Tip of the Week: Entrepreneurism Requires More Determination Than Luck

Entrepreneurism is actually more a function of hard work, networking, and certainly a dash of creative thinking than it is eccentricity, luck, or superior genius.

Pharmacy has a long history of entrepreneurism and many pharmacists are entrepreneurs, yet do not even fully realize it. Some people think of entrepreneurs as eccentric inventors who come up with an ingenious idea or get lucky when an out-of-the-box idea simply “sticks” in our increasingly viral and social-media driven environment. But entrepreneurism is actually more a function of hard work, networking, and certainly a dash of creative thinking than it is eccentricity, luck, or superior genius.

Despite an increasingly competitive health care market, anecdotal evidence suggests a renaissance in pharmacy students hoping to take an ownership position. However, entrepreneurism is not confined to ownership or to the young and recently graduated pharmacists. It can also take the form of veteran practitioners filling a market niche with solutions that solve problems or make lives better for others.

Jones and Hill provide practice tips for aspiring entrepreneurs that are applicable at any stage of a pharmacist’s career.1 They described that what was thought to be a really novel idea ultimately fell flat due to ill-conceived commercialization plans and because their team was not fully prepared to handle all the challenges that lay ahead.

The authors also provide a set of recommendations for aspiring entrepreneurs in scientific and professional fields. These include:

  • Building credibility, which in pharmacy can include volunteering in associations, being active in the community, and projecting your expertise in a humble fashion
  • Improving your negotiation skills
  • Evaluating the landscape for potential competition and allies
  • Gaining recognition for your business skills, even if you are working in a corporate environment
  • Building your network, preferably under the auspices of a mentor
  • Determining key advantages for your potential idea, including lower cost, market disruption, and/or greater efficacy
  • Building a product or service that is realistic to develop and commercialize by taking steps to reduce its complexity to potential stakeholders and limiting the design to one that will make it digestible in scope to buyers
  • Achieving “flight” by taking part in business plan competitions and identifying various forms of small-scale funding, including angel investors and community grants
  • Balancing the work and entrepreneur lifestyle and expecting to work many hours while communicating with a wide variety of people.

These recommendations underscore the fact that entrepreneurism is actually broadly applicable. Students can learn from this as they position themselves with the right initial job to fulfill their future entrepreneurial endeavors. Current pharmacy owners have already done much of what is described but can continue to work and “stay fresh” so that their business can continue to develop niche services that keep them ahead of the game. And those working in more corporate environments can plant seeds that will position themselves with entrepreneurial endeavors outside the company in the future or can even contribute novel ideas within the company that help address problems while advancing their career within the organization.

Additional information about Entrepreneurship and Innovation can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

REFERENCE

Jones CH, Hill A. So you want to be a student entrepreneur? Bioentrepreneur. 2017;35(2):113-116.