Pharmacy Owner’s Guide to Entering Your Exit Strategy


No matter who you are, how successful you have been, or at what stage of your career you find yourself, all independent pharmacists eventually face the same challenge: how to successfully exit the business when the time is right.

According to Bob Graul, an industry veteran who owned and operated independent pharmacies for over 20 years, and who now serves as McKesson’s national vice president of RxOwnership, “In any quality business plan, there is an exit strategy. The challenge for independent pharmacists is that, as long-term business owners, there has often been no compelling reason to develop an exit plan, which leaves the owner vulnerable when it comes time to make a decision.”

While deciding to exit any business is no easy exercise, Bob recommends getting started by taking the following steps:

1. Establish goals. While this may seem obvious, one of the biggest hurdles independent pharmacists face is figuring out what they actually want. Thinking about exiting your business and what it means for both your personal and professional life can be difficult. The first thing Bob asks owners is, “Do you really want to sell? You are an employer, a trusted member of your community and a business leader. If you sell, all that will potentially change.” Having thought out answers to these kinds of questions helps paint a picture of where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years.

2. Start the conversation. Small-business ownership can feel lonely. Even when you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, it can be difficult to figure out how to move forward. Bob recommends that once you have a set of goals in mind, “find a few trusted advisors in an accountant, an attorney and even former owners who can help you get your house in order.” This advice holds true for buyers as well, since each party needs to know exactly what they are capable of achieving given their experience, ability and financial situation.

3. Develop a plan. Once you have developed a picture of where you want to go and gained additional insight from other professionals, the next step is to create a plan. A good plan will translate your goals into actionable steps you can begin to implement immediately, even if you don’t plan on exiting for many years.

When you have this plan, you have a blueprint you can reference when big decisions arise. Having that peace of mind can be invaluable when it comes to making the right decision at the right time and even more valuable in avoiding making the wrong decision.

Bob Graul, his team of ownership consultants, and their online resource center (, are focused on maintaining the heritage of independent retail pharmacy by providing free resources to help owners think through the key issues related to selling their business and/or buying others.