It’s been quite a week. Like many small businesses, we frequently find ourselves responding in the moment, juggling many balls in an attempt to doing everything we can, to be flexible to our customer’s needs. At best this is exciting, stimulating and challenging in equal measure. At worst, we are firefighting and hoping (with everything crossed) that what we do will make us some profit to keep going. Sound familiar?
We meet many independent pharmacy contractors who are caught in that difficult place – so busy delivering against an ever-increasing workload, putting out huge blazes as more and more challenges face the business and with the uncertainty that any of it is making enough money to even pay the bills. These are tough times and for all that hard work there really is no guarantee that it will sustain the business. Feeling out of control and unable to do everything we want to, leads to stress.
Stress in good measure is productive but too much leads to the wrong behaviours, reacting in the moment outside of core strategy and short-term thinking. Furthermore it can lead to ill-health and disease.
We have found ourselves in that place this year. We have worked incredibly hard to deliver for our customers on their Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) requirements and this has been enormously rewarding for us as founders of the concept. We have recently won an award for it and we love what we do. But does it pay the bills?
Two days last week to review our strategy for 2018/19 were the best (and hardest) two days spent this year – looking at our business rather than being in it. What we quickly realised was that we have been so busy doing what we know is the right thing that we had lost sight of some of the key drivers, and if continued won’t pay the bills. We had got sucked into the very behaviours that we encourage our clients to avoid. Reacting in the moment, working on projects that will make a difference but for free.
So we have had a serious look at our priorities. Knowing where we are going and having specific metrics in place will be critical to our continued success. We have followed exactly our Planning for Growth planning process and now have a tight plan, with key performance indicators and a dashboard for regular monthly review. This will enable us to work smarter, focus on the things that we not only love but can also sustain the business and feel more in control. We know we will need to check-in frequently to make sure we’re not slipping into being more reactive. We will continue to do stuff that makes a difference in the profession because it’s the right thing. That won’t change, but it’s about applying a little more discipline, business structure and asking the question “why am I doing this’?
This stuff really works.