Business Hierarchy Of Needs
The entrepreneurial journey is an exceptionally peculiar one. We start our businesses with a clear vision of personal and financial freedom. Yet, that goal of freedom – the primary reason we have our own business – is never realised. We are constantly on the verge of making it, but few of us ever do. We are stuck. Simply surviving.
Which begs the question “Why?” Which then begs the next question, “How do we fix it?”
In researching the answers, I have witnessed a singular pervasive problem: The biggest challenge business owners face is knowing what their biggest challenge is. Let me say that again, for the people in the back.
The biggest challenge business owners face is knowing what their biggest challenge is.
If you find yourself trapped between stagnating sales, staff turnover and unhappy customers, what do you fix first? The response of, “everything” is the norm. But it doesn’t work, since at any given time only one issue can be the most important. Only one thing can be top priority. And if we don’t know what it is, we may be fixing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or, more insidious, fixing the right thing at the wrong time. We need to pinpoint the right thing to work on at the right time, and the way to do that is by mastering the Business Hierarchy of Needs.
To proactively correct something in your business, you need solid systems in place. I created a powerful diagnostic tool called the Business Hierarchy of Needs so you have a visual of where you are in your business, what to fix first and how to reach your business goals.
So what is the Business Hierarchy of Needs about, anyway? It’s a model of your business needs, based on the same fundamentals as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Within Maslow’s Hierarchy, you see the base is physiological, then there is safety, followed by belonging and love, esteem, and finally, self-actualisation. Fundamentally speaking, The Business Hierarchy of Needs follows this model by replacing our human needs with those of our business.
The Business Hierarchy Of Needs
Sales (the base level)
Always make sure your base level is met first. When it comes to humans, we need food and water. When it comes to our businesses, we first need cash flow and sales in order to move up the hierarchy of needs.
This is the creation of sustainability. Many businesses have a profit problem but are focused on sales. It’s more important to bake profit into every transaction you have. You cannot sell your way into profit. You need a system to bring profitability around.
This is the level of organisational efficiency. The idea is as your business grows it becomes less and less dependent on you and it becomes organised. Achieving organisational efficiency will extract the owner from the business so it has no dependency on you, and can run on automatic.
Impact is the creation of transformation. This is where you realise your business is not about transactions but transformation. You are not selling a commodity, but a service that impacts lives and a community. What is the feeling you are leaving for the client, how are you transforming their lives and de-commoditising yourself?
Legacy is the creation of permanence. It is where the business is designed to live-on into perpetuity without you. When you create a legacy, you realise you are not the owner of the business, but the steward. To achieve the legacy level the owner must care more about the corporate legacy vs his personal legacy. This should be the objective of your business.
So What Now…?
The Business Hierarchy of Needs is the compass that will move your business toward the vision you originally had. By applying it, you will assess your business to see what requires repair. You will use the evaluation tools I have created to help you navigate and understand exactly where you are in your business and what needs to be addressed in order to propel you forward.
When something is broken in our business our first instinct is to sell more, when chances are we really need a better profit or efficiency system in place. You may think you want to have an impact and have a legacy, but you don’t have the efficiency to support it. By using The Business Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll revert to the base level needs, and then make sure they are met before you elevate to higher levels.
It’s also important to point out that the Business Hierarchy of Needs model has a get-to-give component. Often, we are told you have to give to get, but here, the model shows the first three stages are about getting. You need to get sales into your organisation, you need to get more profit and you need to get more efficiency. You need to get that organisation. With that strong foundation in place, you can then elevate to being transformational through impact and achieve perpetual life – a legacy for your business. Now that is about giving, because only through legacy can you contribute.
Remember, your business is a fluid, living, breathing thing. You will find yourself at different levels within this hierarchy of needs at different times. That’s to be expected, especially as your business evolves. To run a profitable business, you know there will be times you ping pong around this model of needs. But the closer you stick to it, and build that solid foundation, the stronger your business will be.
If you are an entrepreneur, you likely started your business with a burning desire to make an impact and change the world. I know I did. The thing is, you can’t make an impact without the means. By using the Business Hierarchy of Needs, you can move forward in a constructive way so you can make that impact and leave your legacy.