In episode 22, I talk about how I funneled my business ideas down to just one. When people meet me and learn that I’m a voice actor, the most common question they ask is, “How did you get started doing THAT?”
Mentioned in this episode
Poison Help Line 1-800-222-1222
In Episode 1 of this podcast, I mentioned that I came up with the idea to narrate pharmacist continuing education journals into audio format. I went forward with the narration business idea because I felt I had a problem I could solve and get paid for providing a service. When I picked that idea and ran with it, however, I left several other ideas behind. I funneled my business ideas down to just one.
Recently, I found a list from summer 2017, with all the business ideas I considered. That was 3 years ago! I had decided to start a business, and I knew I wanted to provide narration services. I just hadn’t funneled my ideas down to just one thing yet. I also didn’t know that the voiceover industry even existed at that point. 3 years ago, in the summer of 2017, having a narration business was one of many business ideas.
Working a traditional pharmacist job wasn’t an option. I needed a part-time job I could do “in the margins,” so-to-speak. We don’t have affordable, reliable, skilled childcare for our 17-year-old son with autism. My business ideas centered around keeping my schedule flexible and my availability open if my kids had an unexpected illness, an emergency, a school delay, or a school closing. I spent 19 years building a reputation as a reliable and responsible pharmacist. It wouldn’t take me long to tarnish my reputation with a string of cancellations.
When I was looking to start a business, it was during a time that I volunteered extensively. I love to help people, yet I wanted to work. I wanted to have a job. But, I couldn’t get a job because I was volunteering too much. Plus, I was needed at home to run the house and be there for the kids. My husband understands me very well, and he had a good point when he told me that, “If you want to have a business and make money, you have to stop giving your time away.” I needed to hear that. Every entrepreneur does. I have heard that advice many times since.
At first, I tried to find a way to monetize what I was doing as a volunteer. I’m passionate about drug abuse prevention education, poisoning prevention education, medication safety education, advocating drug take-back days, and speaking to high school students considering a career in pharmacy or pharmaceutical sciences.
What are the ideas I left behind?
#1 Medicine cabinet clean-out service. Another title I considered for this was “Drug Take-Back Consultant”
I wanted to go into people’s homes and help them clean out their medicine cabinets. Literally, I would help them get their stuff out of the house and get rid of it the right way. Once we had a clean slate, we would come up with a current list of medications and a shopping list of items to replace, if needed.
This is a great time to stick in a public service announcement. Disposing of unwanted, unused, and expired medications properly prevents theft, drug misuse and abuse (which can lead to addiction), and accidental poisonings and overdoses. In addition, it protects the environment and saves lives.
I would have enjoyed having a medicine cabinet clean-out service. I love to organize information, and I’m passionate about drug take-back.
#2 Analog personal health record organizer.
I wanted to use this idea as an add-on service from the medicine cabinet clean-out service I just mentioned. If you’re a pharmacist and can monetize this idea, go for it. EVERY TOWN IN AMERICA NEEDS A PROFESSIONAL WHO ORGANIZES HEALTH INFORMATION FOR OTHERS.
This idea reminds me of the movie Road House, featuring Patrick Swayze. At one point, Patrick Swayze’s character gets injured and has to go to the doctor. When he gets to the doctor, he hands over his CHART. His entire medical history is in a physical chart in his hands. He can go to whomever he wants for care and not have to worry about having an accurate written medical history. All the information is in one place!
I thought it would be a good idea to go to patient homes and help them get their information all into one place. Then, anyone who needs access to that information in an emergency could have it: caregivers, children, siblings, neighbors.
11 items I would have included in an analog personal health record:
- Ht, wt, and allergies, dated within 6 months
- Current list of medications, herbals, dietary supplements, and over the counter items (also known as OTC’s)
- List of medical conditions that pairs with each medication, OTC, herbal, or dietary supplement.
- Immunization record (last 10 years)
- List of healthcare professionals and last date seen. This would include primary care providers, specialists, chiropractor, etc. Don’t assume everyone ONLY uses Western Medicine!
- List of surgeries
- Family history
- Advanced directives, such as a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, durable power of attorney (POA), living will, HC Proxy, etc.
- Lab results from the last 5 years
- Social history: List of workplace, family, close friends
- Habits: Alcohol, Tobacco, and other drugs, gambling, and other addictions
I did not move forward with this business idea because I was unsure how to monetize it. I also needed permission from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to store patient information in my home. I’d love to revisit this business idea some day. It would probably make a great on-line course.
#3 Attend a doctor’s appointment with a patient.
I wanted to offer this as an add-on service to one of the last two services I mentioned. Some people just need a second set of ears at an appointment. I would take notes during the visit, help them follow through with their provider’s plan, and help them ask questions.
#4 Keynote Speaker
I actually ended up doing this. After more than 10 years of volunteering to speak at a Pharmacy Summer Camp for high school students considering a career in pharmacy or pharmaceutical sciences at The University of Toledo, I became a paid speaker. It’s only one day a year. I would love to speak at other events on topics I’m passionate about. I’m not actively pursuing keynote speaking at this time though.
Why didn’t I pursue any of these ideas? They’re all reasonable, and they all appeal to me.
- I couldn’t find a way to monetize them or scale them.
- The marketing was outside my comfort zone
- The permission needed to use and store protected health information would have required additional licensing in Ohio.
- I had strong concerns about my availability for my family.
I would have taken more risks and found a way to make it work if I wanted to do the work badly enough. I love to help people, and I would have loved the challenge of using my identity as a pharmacist to clean out medicine cabinets, organize health information, attend appointments, or book more keynote-speaking gigs. It didn’t work out, and I’m at peace about it.
I also considered working for someone else in the areas that I liked to volunteer. I considered becoming a Prevention Specialist, an Injury prevention specialist, joining the staff at my county’s ADAMHS Board, working at a Poison Control Call Center, and becoming a High School Counselor.
Here’s why each of them appealed to me.
#1 Prevention Specialist
I would have worked in a school and educated students about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and supported staff as needed. Drug abuse prevention education is a passion of mine. I volunteer with my county’s Addiction Task Force – formerly Opiate Task Force. I help with outreach events and provide input as a pharmacist. I also advocate drug take-back days. I create, update, and distribute my county’s list of drug disposal boxes. The list is used by behavioral health agencies, police and fire departments, libraries, and other places in my county. I volunteer because I care. I also happen to be the only pharmacist in the group.
#2 Injury Prevention Specialist
Injury prevention specialists are problem-solvers. They assess safety problems and determine the leading causes of serious injuries. Then, they provide outreach and education or affect policy changes that will help prevent injuries. They get data from businesses, hospitals, clinics, and death certificates. Ex: The Amazon Distribution Center in Rossford, OH is hiring an injury prevention specialist. Tesla is looking for one in their Fremont, CA site. Injury prevention is important, and those jobs interest me.
I do volunteer with an injury-prevention coalition called Safe Kids Greater Toledo. There are 3 things I do for them: Poisoning Prevention Education, Medication Safety Education, and Drug Take-Back Day Advocacy.
Safe Kids Greater Toledo focuses on preventing injuries in children birth through age 14. I volunteer at elementary schools, health fairs, and other outreach events (“Safe Kids Day”). I prevent injuries when I teach children and adults about the poison help line, pretty poisons, and keeping things out of sight and out of reach. The poison help line number is 1-800-222-1222.
(#3) The third non-pharmacy job I considered was working for the Wood County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS Board).
I love volunteering with my county’s Addiction Task Force. It is co-chaired by the Director of Community Programs for the Wood County ADAMHS Board. I believe in what they do so strongly that I considered applying for a job. They provide support services for individuals with serious or persistent mental illness and addiction disorders in our county.
#4 Poison Control Call Center Worker
I have a passion for poisoning prevention. It should be no surprise that I considered working for a poison control center. I didn’t look into it too hard, but I think I would have liked the work. I plan to interview someone who works for the poison control helpline on this podcast and learn more about what they do.
(#5) Finally, the fifth non-pharmacy job I considered was School Counselor.
Even though I love working with teenagers and talking to them at career day. I did not pursue this idea. I would have needed additional education, and it would have led to a full-time job outside the home. Even though I didn’t become a school counselor, I continue to volunteer at high school career days.
Life is complicated. Of these last five opportunities, some required additional education, and all had inflexible work hours. So, I didn’t pursue them.
I funneled my ideas down to just one. Because of life circumstances and the lifestyle my husband and I want for our family, I felt that the only idea that could possibly work was becoming a narrator. In the voiceover industry, I can work “in the margins” while the kids are at school or in the evenings (or weekends!). The additional education I need can be done from home at my own pace. I can slowly ramp up the business instead of immediately working 40 hours/week. If my family has an emergency, I’m home. The potential income is higher than anything else I considered too. It took me almost 2 years to funnel my ideas down to just one.
I looked at my strengths, interests, and availability. What I ended up with is something I absolutely love. Like I mentioned in the first episode [of this podcast], I think I found the job Mark Twain alluded to in his famous quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
The Pharmacist’s Voice Podcast has listeners in 22 countries and 37 US States.