As the new owner of a 130-year-old business in South Boston, Pharmacist Dr. Stephen Anderson has had to navigate his own unique path. Dr. Anderson owns both Halifax Pharmacy and Halifax LTC Pharmacy, which offers a long-term care component supplying nursing facilities and patients who need custom-packaged or complex-order prescriptions. What has been his most important tool for success? He can distill it into a single word: resources. 

At our October 6 RISE & SHINE virtual morning meetup for entrepreneurs and innovators, Dr. Anderson described his journey and shared his philosophy that building a support network is the most important tool for success.

“I’m not a one-man team,” Anderson says, “and I surely don’t know it all.” Like many small business owners, Anderson has found that creating a support network has allowed his business not only to run smoothly but to thrive. 

Dr. Anderson began to realize the importance of building a network of resources in his first job. As a consultant pharmacist, Anderson reviewed patients’ medications in a nursing facility. In building a rapport with the medical staff, he discovered that “You could find out more from a nurse in five minutes than you could from reading the chart for four hours.” This is where he realized the strong correlation between personal connection and achieving the best outcome for the patient, a lesson he has leaned on throughout his entrepreneurial journey. 

Acknowledging the Experts Around You

When Dr. Anderson purchased Halifax Pharmacy in September 2020, he immediately knew that a key resource was the wealth of knowledge offered by the pharmacy’s employees, some of whom had been with the company for 25-35 years. As longstanding experts on the business, his employees had insight about the pharmacy’s history, what had worked in the past, and the business’ day-to-day functioning and efficiency. His “open forum” policy encourages employee feedback in a way that has been productive and helpful.

In addition to listening to his employees, Anderson consulted with other pharmacy owners. A 40-year veteran in the pharmaceutical business encouraged him to invest in an online platform and to get active on social media. This critical advice energized Halifax Pharmacy’s outreach, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Anderson’s most invaluable resources? His spouse. As someone who knows him well but isn’t involved in Halifax Pharmacy’s day to day, she offers a unique perspective—and she also knows his tendency to jump headfirst into new ideas and can provide a check on his enthusiasm when needed.

Securing Legal and Financial Advice (with Industry Experience)!

Another component of Dr. Anderson’s support network? Legal and financial advisors with industry experience. His legal advisor helped him navigate the paperwork necessary in purchasing a business, and his financial advisor helped him plan for the cash flow issues that can arise when waiting for insurance payments. Legal and financial experts are especially helpful in guiding novice entrepreneurs toward the most efficient and productive path.  

Harnessing Community Synergy

Dr. Anderson shared that beneficial partnerships can appear in different, unexpected places. As a new business owner over the past year, he collaborated with his patients’ doctors to offer them the most effective, cost-efficient medications. He has worked with a wholesaler to set up an online store. He has even partnered with the sheriff’s office to distribute free Narcan as a tool for deputies to use as they respond to opioid overdoses. 

One of Anderson’s most important relationships? Working with the Virginia Department of Health to offer the COVID-19 vaccine. He explained that the Department of Health reached out to small pharmacies first.“We’re more nimble and able to implement things or change things a little bit quicker,” he says. Dr. Anderson is particularly proud of this endeavor. He adds, “We’ve given almost 10,000 vaccines here at our little pharmacy.” 

Dr. Anderson embodies the spirit of RISE Collaborative in his focus on building intentional support networks. As a new business owner, you don’t have to go it alone! Engage with RISE Collaborative to learn from other entrepreneurs like Dr. Anderson and start the foundation for your own support network.

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Missed the Rise & Shine session with Stephen Anderson?

Watch it here.