What is the next problem you must address or opportunity you must meet in order to grow your business? Do you know the answer? And, can you be sure that you have the right answer, the one that will truly move your business forward?
In the past, I repeatedly fell into the trap of fixing whatever problem was in front of me. Whether I was saving the day, or just trying to get my company to the next level, I rushed to the apparent problems. You know, the obvious stuff and the squeaky wheels. At any given time, there are always a boatload of problems that need your attention. So, trusting my gut instincts, I would just pick the one that felt like the most urgent and focus on that. In this process of addressing the apparent issues, I disregarded the most impactful one. What resulted was a continuous run of problem solving, and yet my business remained stuck.
The biggest problem business owners have is that we don’t know what our biggest problem is. We can’t be sure that we are focusing on the area of our business that, when addressed, will yield the best results.
To solve that problem, I developed a model based on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that there are five categories of human need. From the most basic and essential needs for survival to the highest needs for happiness and fulfilment: physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. In order for us to attend to something higher on the list, we first need to make sure that our needs are met in the categories below it. So, for example, before you can focus on meeting your needs for love and belonging, you first need the basics: air to breathe, adequate hydration and nutrition, and a safe place to sleep. It’s pretty tough to deal with your self-actualization when you’re hangry and tired.
Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I realized that it has a direct correlation to entrepreneurial progress: what drives your business, what keeps your company trapped, and how you fix the roadblocks along the way to achieve the highest levels of success as you, the entrepreneur, define it.
The key to climbing the hierarchy is simple: fully satisfy your business’s current level of needs, not by rushing to the apparent daily demands, not by addressing advanced needs before basic needs, and certainly not by trying to fix everything at once. To do this, we will use what I call the Business Hierarchy of Needs.
The Business Hierarchy of Needs levels breaks down like this: