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Pharmacy Entrepreneur Adam Silvertown: "I like a good problem."

I did not consider myself an entrepreneur when I graduated. I was dedicated to my profession and envisioned a career where I might possibly one day be my own boss. I know it’s very cliché to say this, but I could never have predicted what taking the plunge into pharmacy ownership was going to be like for me.
Adam Silvertown
Pharmacy entrepreneur Adam Silvertown of Pace Pharmacy



BSc McMaster University

BScPhm University of Toronto

Current Role:

Founder and CEO, Pace Pharmacy

What excites you about being an entrepreneur?

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I love the freedom and the never-ending set of challenges. I also get excited about being able to see an idea grow and evolve into a real thing – which may be something completely unexpected. But I also really enjoy problem solving. Whenever I’ve encountered a problem that makes me rethink something, or stop and take a step back, I find that really fulfilling. I like a good problem, and the solution is that much sweeter when and if I finally get there.

How has your entrepreneurial career evolved since your graduation?

I would say it’s very different since graduation. I did not consider myself an entrepreneur when I graduated. I was dedicated to my profession and envisioned a career where I might possibly one day be my own boss. I know it’s very cliché to say this, but I could never have predicted what taking the plunge into pharmacy ownership was going to be like for me. It took me 5 years (and a lot of guts) to open my first pharmacy after graduation, and probably another 8 years (and a lot more blood, sweat, and tears) before I ever thought of myself as an entrepreneur.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

I would say the key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur was the freedom opportunity. I have always liked doing things my way, and over time it occurred to me that I needed to be my own boss if I was ever going to have the freedom to practise in such a way that I felt made the most sense. I wanted the freedom to make decisions that would positively impact patients, but making those decisions would require me to be the person who has the final say (professional, business-related, and financial). So, the ideal of independence and autonomy were the driving forces in me becoming an entrepreneur.

How do you define success?

I don’t have a single definition. It’s always been a moving target. Once upon a time, success for me would have been graduating. Then the bar would have moved to opening my first pharmacy and filling that first prescription. Then it was hiring my first employee. And so on. I think of success as accomplishing or achieving something you’ve set out for yourself. In the examples for myself, I achieved success after that first prescription, but then I had to set a new target. I have interpretations that I tend to accept on an ongoing basis (like, I paid my rent and my employees this week!), but there are greater over-reaching success measures that help keep me motivated. For me, I keep those success targets to myself.

As a successful entrepreneur, what continues to drive you?

I am driven by the idea that what I am doing, or what I have built, is helping people. Not just in the typical way pharmacies help people, but actually giving patients options that are not typically available everywhere. Tied into this is my love for problem-solving as well as the desire for the freedom of choice. But I’m also driven by my employees having a sense of ownership over their work. I really like seeing the evolution of my business over time, and my growing team, and being able to know the everything behind the story. Thinking about the unknown future is always going to be intriguing and continue to drive me.

What are the biggest challenges to being an entrepreneur?

Oh, where do I start? There are many challenges to being an entrepreneur, both tangible and intangible. There are financial challenges, personally and as a business owner. There is constant stress and worry about whether or not the business will fail or if you’ll be able to pay the bills. If you’re lucky enough to have employees, then there is a whole new set of challenges to face. You have to learn how to hire, train, retain, manage payroll, follow employment standards, manage different personalities, and more. The emotional challenges that weigh on many entrepreneurs include things like personal time (or lack of it), and time away from family and friends. Those are challenges that not many people think or talk too much about.

How do you manage work/life balance?

Once upon a time, I would not have been able to answer this question at all. Fortunately, I have worked very hard, for a very long time to earn something that resembles work/life balance. I still spend a lot of time working evenings and nights, on weekends and holidays, often when others are not working at all. So, I have learned to cherish and appreciate my family time, and my personal time. Never forgetting what really matters in the grand scheme of things.

What books/resources do you recommend for every entrepreneur to check out?

I have read dozens of books over the years that have helped me in one way or another. Here are some of my favourites: Shoe Dog, The Goal, The E-Myth Revisited, Good to Great, Steve Jobs 

What advice would you give to colleagues who want to become entrepreneurs?

If a colleague were to ask me about becoming an entrepreneur, I would ask them to read the first part of this interview. Then if they were still interested, I would ask them to write a detailed business plan, including business and personal financial projections, and then sit on the idea for a long time (months or more). I would tell them to imagine their life with no free time, no social life, no income, lots of stress, lots of debt, no vacations, no weekends, and the possibility that won’t change for several years or even never. And it’s possible you’ll fail and end up with less than you started with. But, if after knowing all that, they still have the desire, the stomach, and the will to persevere, then there is the very real possibility they might one day achieve fleeting moments of freedom, satisfaction, and, dare I say, success. 



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