The biggest lesson John Dobbs has learned in going from day job to entrepreneur? Trust your instincts.
John Dobbs left his cushy and safe employment as a Clinical Emergency Services pharmacist for Lee Health Systems — a position he created, to open his own pharmacy, Apothicare 360, in 2013.
“We went out on a limb,” says Dobbs, whose business offers traditional pharmaceuticals, an addition to compounds and unique medicinal solutions. The types of things not available at your corner drug store.
Prescription for success: Having the ability and education to create compounds helped Dobbs leverage more sales because he can recommend alternative treatment options such as supplements and natural remedies. “We needed a way to help patients,” he says, “and they don't have to see a physician, we can dispense those products for them.”
Tipping point: Mail-order contracts were a big step for the company. Dobbs and co-founder Denny Bauman had to white-knuckle it with what Dobbs says was “a huge investment” before they reaped the rewards. “Everything we did,” says Dobbs, “I was like, 'Whoa, there's no turning back now.'”
Counteracting fear: “You control your destiny, and what you think and feel,” Dobbs says. Embodying the mindset of an entrepreneur means “you have to be more optimistic about everything you are doing in life because your business touches everything.”
Instincts over diplomacy: “Overall, the mistakes I have made were all because I didn't listen to my instincts,” he says. Sometimes Dobbs' business sense would warn him “things were too good to be true.” But having an open-mind to other's opinions within his counsel nudged him to overlook his apprehensions. In the end, he says, “I paid the price for it.”
Inspiration injection: When Dobbs and Bauman worked together at Lee Health, it was Bauman's own entrepreneurial hunger that prompted Dobbs to consider the benefits of owning his own pharmacy. “He's got the magic touch,” says Dobbs. “He has a very philosophical approach: Be grateful for everything.”
May cause insomnia: What keeps Dobbs up at night is “what's next.” With Apothicare 360 running efficiently, Dobbs wants to continue to build, not sustain. He's open to new ventures, and wants to continue moving forward as “a true entrepreneur,” he says. “After you've done it once, doing another startup is easy.”
Motivation depletion: A needed day off won't hurt, as long as you accept that your problems will still be waiting for you when you return to the grind. Says Dobbs: “You're allowed to not be motivated for a day, take a day off, be sad if you have to heal that way, but at the same time, you have to have a plan to be back, to be positive, to run that business.”
Culture cures: “If you are doing something for the good, typically, it is always against mainstream culture,” Dobbs says. “People might call you crazy, but you have to keep doing what you believe in.” With a clear mission, a supportive group of mentors and resources, Dobbs says, “Keep going with your life and purpose. You only answer to yourself.”
Listen and learn: The Tim Ferriss book “The Four Hour Work Week” lays out a different philosophy on how to think, says Dobbs. So do Zig Ziglar and fellow self-help author Andy Andrews, who taught Dobbs that “if you give enough people what they want, you'll get what you want.” Dobbs recommends watching Andy Andrews' speech, The Butterfly Effect, on YouTube. Says Dobbs: “It gives me goose bumps.”
AT A GLANCE
Entrepreneur: John Dobbs
Company: Apothicare 360
Headquarters: Fort Myers
Year founded: 2013
Revenue: $9.5 million in 2016