Girl Founder Inspo: Sarah Hazel, Flannery’s Pharmacy
We are excited to bring you a new series of interviews highlighting female entrepreneur role models in our communities!
Introducing Sarah Hazel of Flannery's Pharmacy
A bit about Flannery's Pharmacy
"Flannery’s Pharmacy has been serving the Forbes community for over 60 years. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service, professional support and advice to our community through an enthusiastic, caring and knowledgeable team."
Question 1: Where did your idea (or interest in your industry) come from? Was it something you have always been passionate about?
My dad actually suggested a career in pharmacy for me. I wanted to be a wine scientist! Which may have been a disaster. I feel so fortunate for the career I have chosen as I absolutely LOVE being a pharmacist. There is no other job for me. Interestingly, I started working as a pharmacy student at the pharmacy I am now a partner in, so I’ve only ever had one job!
Question 2: What gave you the confidence to get started? Or the resilience to keep going?
I was fortunate to have the owner of the pharmacy I was working at ask me a few times if I wanted to become a partner. I declined this offer thinking I will do that after I’ve had children, when I’m a little older and more experienced. Then one day I thought, why do I keep saying no? It was about fear, uncertainty and a lack of confidence. So the next time I was asked I expressed interest. And the rest is history!
I was 27 years old when I first became a partner. There have been many ups and downs over the past 13 years. I am fortunate to have wonderful mentors, the support of family and a brilliant team around me. For me, without them I would not have achieved what I have in my career. I have been so very fortunate.
On the tough days, what gets me through is the love for my profession, the team and my community. A mentor once told me “some days are hopscotch days and some days are dodgeball days, don’t let the dodgeball days overshadow the hopscotch days”. On the more trying days, I’m reminded of this phrase and try to focus on the positive and the bigger picture.
You are probably never going to be completely ‘ready’ to become a business owner. My advice is to just get started and see where it takes you.
Question 3: What skills have you learned along the way as a Girl Founder (Female CEO / Founder) ?
Combining being a mum and a business owner is a constant juggle. Like I have mentioned before I would not be able to do my role without wonderful support from my business partners, colleagues and my family.
My role in the business changed dramatically after having my first child. I suppose in hindsight my role before children was very hands on in a full time capacity. I went back to work when my first born was about 4 months old and I very quickly realised I had to change or pivot so to speak. My role moved more from a management role into a leadership role. I realised in my two days a week working life I had to lead, coach and empower the team to ensure the business operated as effectively and efficiently when I was there compared to when I was at home with my children. Spending time at home with my children when they were little was very important to me.
On my work days, I focus on the team and the customers. I ensure the team receive positive feedback and support in their roles. I also spend time interacting with customers. I learnt early on in my career that building relationships with our customers is so very rewarding and crucial to the success of the business. I have invested a lot of time getting to know my customers and in turn I have let our customers into my life. Another phrase I’m constantly reminded of is “start with the heart share and the market share will follow”.
I also believe it is so important to have career goals. This helps to steer you in the right direction when decisions are to be made. We have also developed our business values, the qualities we want to live by at any stage of the working week. These goals and values are communicated to the team so they understand decisions being made and are engaged and empowered to deliver on our vision.
Question 4: What did you learn from a hero or mentor? How did you find them?
Whilst I have been fortunate to have many mentors during my pharmacy career, it has been my business partner who has given me the most support.
The times when business ownership gets tough, and it will....unfortunately, I know my business partner is only a phone call away. He always has a level head and thoughtful advice. Many times he has experienced the situation before.
One of the main pieces of advice from my mentor is in regards to communication. He has guided me to be more thoughtful and considerate in my communication. When I was younger I was at times a little direct or abrupt. It was because I had such high expectations of myself and the team, but I’ve learnt to communicate positively to ensure an engaged and productive team.
In many ways a business partnership is a lot like a marriage. It will only work if there is effective communication, honesty, commitment and trust, and I believe our business success is due to a wonderful partnership based on mutual respect and trust.
Another piece of advice I received from a mentor at the start of my business ownership journey is to write down what I found positive and negative as an employee in my job. This list I refer to as a reminder of what boosted me and annoyed me as an employee as I consider this in my decisions and communication with the team.
Question 5: Why do you think more young women should consider becoming Girl Founders? Why do women make great business owners?
Women are fantastic at multitasking, a skill crucial for any business owner. Women also have fantastic emotional intelligence and are generally great communicators.
I’d also like to emphasise that it is possible to combine business ownership and motherhood. It’s challenging at times, but so are many jobs. If you are passionate about what you do and you love your job, you can achieve anything!
Question 6: Any last advice to give to young girls ?
Find a mentor who you relate to and just get started! You can never be fully prepared. You will learn along the way.
Question 7: How has your business pivoted during COVID?
Covid-19 brought with it many challenges as we were on the front line! My main role was to ensure my team were feeling supported and our customers safe.
We also chatted about the positive things that had happened in our day. The customers who were so very appreciative of our pharmacy and team. We had so many, and this allowed us to leave at the end of the day feeling positive. It was challenging but we were feeling appreciated and crucial to the health of our community.
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