Faheem Ahmed spells out how empowering pharmacists to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset can create opportunities both for themselves and the wider profession…

Covid-19 has the world is in a state of prolonged shock. However, this shock brought with it a pause, a moment to reset and made everyone reflect. People were yanked out of complacency and could see real world problems and ways to solve them. There was a wave of people choosing the risk of being independent and starting something new.

From businesses changing existing revenue models to new ventures reaching profitability in six months there has been an exponential change which isn’t localized. There is a general affinity towards launching new ventures ranging from small businesses to entrepreneurial ventures.

The question arises: which is better? Given the risk of starting anything in a pandemic, it’s important to analyze the entrepreneurial mindset.

The mindset

There is no clear definition of the word entrepreneur. It is derived from the French entreprendre which means ‘to take in between’, or ‘undertake’, the verb meaning ‘to undertake’. This implies that the term is action based; not something that we think about or theorize but actually is done.

As such in this article the entrepreneur is defined as a person who has a particular type of mindset that is marked by imagination, initiative and readiness to undertake new projects coupled with the ability to put into practice the ideas to bring a project to life.

The characteristics

These are optimistic, hard-working, committed individuals who drive great satisfaction from being independent. Some key traits include:

  • Taking calculated risks: Entrepreneurs don’t dive deep without understanding the consequences. They try to tap into competitive markets while maintaining a unique selling proposition that allows them to avoid head to head competition.
  • Seeking feedback: For the entrepreneur feedback is invaluable and constructive criticism is how they learn and grow. They analyze and decide, reflect and revise, and consider what went right or wrong.
  • Tolerance for failure: One may argue the entrepreneur has a growth mindset in that for the entrepreneur there is no ‘success or ‘failure’; instead there is only learning and getting better.
  • Understanding the importance of team building: The entrepreneur will never consider themselves a one-person army and is focused on developing a team.

Other traits include a massive drive to achieve, opportunity orientated, persistent problem solving, self-belief and high energy levels.

Your business

From the above, it should be apparent that not all business including pharmacy businesses are entrepreneurial in nature.

Although a pharmacy contractor may have once captured an opportunity like an entrepreneur, but do they still have the attributes that make it an entrepreneurial venture?

Below is a quick checklist you can use to gauge how entrepreneurial your business venture
really is.

If you can answer ‘yes’ to all the following then you may still have an entrepreneurial venture:

  • Do you have a vision and are working to bring it to life?
  • Do you set time aside regularly to search for new ideas and try to commercialize them?
  • Do you understand the importance of taking calculated risks with your time, money or
  • Do you invest in your teams and are you obsessed with team building?
  • Is your organization trying to solve a problem?
  • Do you see opportunities when others do not?

Entrepreneurship in action

The year 2020 saw several entrepreneurial and non-entrepreneurial ventures rise and fall. The key difference was mindset and follow through.

Phlo online pharmacy ran the second largest health tech crowd funding campaign in 2020
and managed to become a pharmacy at the door in the UK with a delivery time of two hours. All acute and repeat NHS prescriptions were accommodated within the service and users were empowered to schedule a convenient time slot if they needed.

Phlo quickly became UK’s first on-demand, same day delivery service across London as
Covid-19 also accelerated their growth and they closed 2020 with phenomenal feedback from customers.

The probability of entry into entrepreneurship has a correlation with personality traits. We see some similarities between most founders.

Conversely, certain personality traits have become symptoms of a non-entrepreneurial mindset. They include egoistic decision making, inability to receive and implement feedback, impulsivity, blaming their failures on outer circumstances and needing perfectionism. In trying to be perfect, the “non-entrepreneur” often ends up failing to create at all.

Does the above sound familiar? Is entrepreneurship the solution to your business venture?

The reason why entrepreneurs are rising above the circumstances is quite simple; they are
hustlers. They live with the risk every day that their venture might fail but use it as a motivator to learn constantly and mitigate it bit by bit.

Covid-19 is often referred to as a great reset which accelerated and slowed humankind simultaneously. In this time of reflection, we see that we aren’t living in an abundance of time but rather in time poverty. It’s important that we get comfortable with being uncomfortable because this isn’t the last crisis we will face.

What holds value here is the mindset that will help us get through every natural or man-made crisis or disaster. People are very similar in the ways that they are different and this really struck out during the past 12 months. Mental health issues did not discriminate between CEOs and janitors.

One category might be able to afford the solution while the other could not. This can also be applied to the dispersal of medical service and pharmaceutical access.

A forward thinking attitude along with self discipline could be the key aspect of the entrepreneurial mindset that could lead the world of pharmacy beyond its current constraints, whilst remembering that entrepreneurship isn’t just the idea of starting your venture but a way of life. In fact, it is about accepting and learning from failures, valuing empathy and focussing on solutions around humankind.

In my opinion we need to empower existing pharmacists to adopt a more entrepreneurial
mindset and create new opportunities for themselves and our profession. For the future, pharmacy education must put a greater emphasis on divergent thinking so that they graduate empowered, autonomous and creative pharmacists.

Faheem Ahmed, who won the Pharmacy Business Innovation Award 2020, is owner of
Ahmeys Pharmacy in Oxford and MEDLRN.


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