Small Business Brief


Businesses That Make a Difference: How to Start a Pharmacy

Being a pharmacy owner is a big risk. You’re competing against drug stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart.

It seems as though independent pharmacists are going by the wayside, with the industry shrinking by 1% each year. 

What can you do to build a successful pharmacy? Read on to find out.

Get Proper Qualifications

If you want to be a pharmacist, you have to start by getting the proper qualifications and licenses.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to become a pharmacy technician. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll gain experience working under the supervision of a pharmacist. Read this guide to learn more about being a pharmacy technician.

To be able to work in a pharmacy at all, you need to register with your local state. The state requirements for pharmacy techs vary from state to state.

After you gain experience as a pharmacy tech, you can choose to become a full-fledged pharmacist. You’ll return to school to get your doctorate in pharmacology.

Once you get those qualifications in order, then you’ll be ready to take the next steps to start a pharmacy.

Lay the Foundation

One of the first things you’ll do when you’re ready to start a pharmacy is to find out about you and your customers.

You’ll want to define things like your mission and vision for your pharmacy. You’ll need to do a lot of research in your local area. For example, what are the demographics like in the town where you want to open up?

Is it an affluent area where people would be willing to pay more?

These are the things you’ll want to ask yourself because you’re going to need to create a business plan.

Create a Customer Experience

Let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to compete with the major pharmacy chains like Walgreens or CVS. They can offer prescription drugs for less money, so competing on price is going to be a disaster for your business.

You’ll have to figure out how you can compete with them. You can do that by creating a customer experience that’s much better than the other chains.

People are willing to pay more for better service and this is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.

What kind of experience can you give them? You can give them an experience that goes back to the 1950s, where pharmacists worked a soda fountain and pharmacy.

You can create that kind of atmosphere that welcomed members of the community to gather and connect.

At the same time, you also create a valuable relationship with your customers and develop loyalty to your pharmacy.

Write a Business Plan

Your business plan is the most important document you have before you open your pharmacy’s doors. This is the road map of your business and your ticket for financing.

Your business plan needs to show how you plan to become a profitable pharmacy. There are certain components to the business plan that you have to have.

  • Executive Summary
  • About the Business
  • Target Market
  • Competition
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Marketing Plan
  • Start-Up Expenses
  • Operating Expenses
  • Sales Projections for First 5 Years
  • Amount of Financing Required

When you’re doing your operating expenses, you’ll find two areas that will cost the most – inventory and staffing. Your inventory can be as much as 68% of your budget. You’ll need to account for that in your plan.


Obtain Financing

You will need to get financing for your pharmacy. That is unless you have at least $350,000 to fund the pharmacy yourself.

Otherwise, you’re going to need to get investors or get a loan from a bank or the SBA. There may be small business grants in your area that you can apply for.

Do your research and shop around for financing opportunities. You want to get the best payment terms as possible as the lowest interest rate.

Ideally, you’ll have something that will help you get started and be able to play the loan back slowly.

Pick a Location

Your location is going to be a major part of your success or failure. You want to pick a location that is convenient for your customers. There needs to be ample parking, or you need to be in a densely populated area where people can walk to you.

Keep in mind that if your clients are elderly, they may not be able to walk to your location, no matter how close it is.

Put Your Team in Place

The secret to how to start a pharmacy that’s successful lies with your team. The people that you hire to be pharmacy techs are important to your work.

There you’ll also need to work with people who are experts in a certain area of knowledge. You’ll need to outsource payroll, accounting, and bookkeeping. You’ll also want to have someone who’s knowledgeable with computer technology that you can call on in the event of an emergency.

A business lawyer is also an essential part of your team because they can guide you in getting the proper business licenses and structure.

Market Your Pharmacy

Before you’re ready to open your doors, you want to put your marketing plan into practice.

There are a lot of marketing tips out there that you can implement. Some of the top ones are starting a blog, investing in pay-per-click ads, social media, and email marketing.

How to Start a Pharmacy That Thrives

It’s not an easy decision to start a pharmacy. There are a lot of risks involved, but there are also a tremendous amount of benefits.

It’s an opportunity for you and your pharmacy to become a reliable pillar of the community, as people long for the days when they had a relationship with their pharmacist. You can become that pharmacist by laying the groundwork to be successful.

How to start a pharmacy starts with the credentials, followed by a solid business plan, great location, and financing. Get those pieces in place and you’ll be successful.

Would you like more great business tips? Be sure to read this article full of tips to help you improve your marketing strategy.