Alone or with Partners, That is the Question!!

There is a lot of issues to consider when choosing the legal structure of your pharmacy business. You can organize your business as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Company, S Corporation, or a C Corporation.  Which form you choose will depend on your vision of what you want to do with your business and the amount of flexibility or personal liability you are willing to undertake.  There is no set formula here and one form may evolve into the other depending on the needs of your business as it grows in profits and complexity.   I am not here to discuss business forms and their advantages and disadvantages; for that you can buy “Opening a Pharmacy: A “How To” Guide” from NCPA and read to your heart’s content.  What I want to talk about is whether you should run your pharmacy alone or with partners.

When I considered opening my pharmacy, I was a little worried about going it on my own.  It took a lot of courage to open a business, not knowing how successful  I would be or where my next dollar was going to come from.  You can plan and organize all you want, but it is still scary!!  One of my good friends was lucky enough to buy an existing pharmacy and develop it into a very successful business.   The success did not come cheaply, however, resulting in a lot of stress and health problems. She looked to hire other pharmacists, but for one reason or another she was not able to keep them. In the end, the lack of support and the resulting stress forced her to sell her business to a chain pharmacy.

I, however, have been lucky enough to go into business with two of my pharmacist friends as partners.  I’ve known and worked with both for over 15 years, but I still had to really think hard on whether I wanted to have them as my business partners.    Getting along as friends or co-workers is a different situation than having someone as a business partner.  The way I look at it, business partners are like spouses, you have to be able to live with each other for a long time and in this case divorce is not an option because not only your life but your livelihood is at stake.  Like a marriage you have to be able to discuss any issue with your partners and put your heads together to come up with solutions to problems you may face in your business.  Multiple heads make for creative solutions and once decisions are made, the support from the other partners is invaluable.  You will also find that projects are easier and better accomplished when divided between multiple people and not one person alone.

You may get the feeling that I am advocating for partners, and you are not wrong.  However, I want to make sure to applaud and encourage all the solo pharmacy owners out there as well.  Whether you choose to go it alone or with partners be ready for lots of hard work and make sure you have at least a basic understanding of all aspects of your business and be willing to step out of your comfort zone to learn what you need or ask for advice.

About Ali

I have been a pharmacist since 1986. I have practiced in the community pharmacy setting since 1989. During this time I have learned a great deal about the challenges pharmacists must overcome to provide quality service and patient care. Forging relationships with patients, physicians, pharmacy organizations, other pharmacists, and pharmacy personnel have offered me a unique perspective in how to own and operate a successful pharmacy. I constantly strive to learn new avenues to advance the profession as well as the business of pharmacy. I graduated from University of Washington in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, and again in 1989 with a Master in Business Administration. I continued on to Willamette University College of Law, where I earned my Certificate in Dispute Resolution and Juris Doctor in 1992. I hold pharmacy licenses in Washington, Oregon (Retired), and California, and am a member of the California Bar.
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