Maslow's hierarchy of needs - critical business thinking

By : Administrator
Published 20th April 2020 |
Read latest comment - 28th April 2020

You may be already familiar with the Maslow pyramid, but if you're not or need some refresher motivation, read on.

An American psychologist called Abraham Maslow came up with a theory in 1943 which became Maslow's hierarchy of needs, based on the concept of a pyramid and different levels.

At the bottom of the pyramid are your basic physiological needs, food, water, rest. This is followed by your safety needs, security and safety. Then comes your belongingness needs, intimate relationships and friends, followed by esteem needs, ie your feeling of accomplishment, before the top of the pyramid, which Maslow called self-actualization. In other words the realization of your full potential. 

The idea being that you would progress through the levels to achieve your full potential. This theory still stands today, although most people concede that levels will overlap as you progress up the pyramid.

Maslow principles applied to business

You can apply the Maslow pyramid to business and is a tool used by a lot of business coaches. There are a multitude of interpretations, but they all follow the same principle.

In times of crisis, where do most business owners head to from a physiological point of view?

Straight to the bottom of the pyramid. Our brains kick into fight or flight survival mode.

  • Can we pay the bills?
  • Is there money coming in?
  • Will I lose all my clients?
  • The world as I know it is ending

Businesses that survive or prosper in a crisis have leaders, mindset and culture that can adapt. They will live at the top of the pyramid, looking for opportunities, diversifying, solving problems, creating solutions.

The bottom 2 levels of the pyramid are the danger zone. You may be able to weather the storm, but you will be left behind by competitors who will be innovating, communicating to your customers and exploiting opportunities.

The middle of the pyramid is where positivity and growth begins. Don't go quiet, even if you are physically unable to trade. Create plenty of noise, let everyone know you are still here. If you have had to reign in marketing spend, then get creative and use outlets such as social media. Tap into a bored captive audience, offer something of value.

Then keep it up, if you have a team and they haven't been furloughed, keep them motivated. Concentrate on positive messaging, stand out from the doom and gloom. Encourage brainstorming, hold regular team meetings, start exploring ideas and possible opportunities.

Sole Traders

If you are a team of one, then there is no reason why you can't follow the same formula. Keep communicating, evaluate your digital presence. If that old website is doing you no favours, then concentrate on a free platform like Facebook. 

Can you offer consultations for work in the future over video conferencing? If you are a technophobe, Google zoom and follow it's instructions. There are a multitude of simple to use tools out there.

I've seen locksmiths offering a mobile emergency lock repair or key cutting service. Builders planning work with clients over zoom and scheduling for later in the year. Landscape gardeners offering low-cost garden waste disposal, as a lot of Councils have stopped collections, or bored households are butchering their gardens. Glaziers doing online demos of window products and booking in future customers. 

The future

This crisis will end and business will resume. But there will be winners and losers, and the way we do things may be different. More familiar faces will have disappeared from the high street, shopping habits increasingly change and lots of people have had a taste of homeworking for the first time. I suspect this homeworking revolution will remain for a lot of forward-looking companies.

As a business owner, decide where you want to be on the pyramid and work out how you will get there. If you need a brainstorming session, create a forum thread, we're here to help 

 

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn
Comments

I love this post Steve. It's so true that if we are in fire fighting mode it's impossible to be creative and innovative, which is what is needed to get through a crisis. I seem to be flying up and down the pyramid if I'm honest. But I still have clients and revenue so I'm pushing forward and actually spending as a business as I think the money money pushed around by those that can, the better. 

The future isn't certain in many ways, but there will be a future and we all need to plan so that our business will be a part of it. 


I seem to be flying up and down the pyramid if I'm honest. But I still have clients and revenue so I'm pushing forward and actually spending as a business as I think the money money pushed around by those that can, the better. 
 

I think that's human nature and my brain has certainly dived to the bottom of the pyramid a few times, until rational thought finally kicked back in.

Although the current situation is serious, it's not unprecedented. If you run a business for more than 10 years, you will experience multiple crisis's and business threatening decisions and realise it's all cyclic. Each event may impact businesses differently, but it's how we approach each crisis that counts.

I remember the banking collapse and thinking this is the end and we had to lay off 5 guys. Then Google decided back in 2012 it hated me and overnight we lost 70% of our revenue. This time, our biggest revenue months for our Trusted Trader business are March and April. Could not time it any better if we tried

But as the US Marines like to say, adapt, improvise and overcome 


Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn

Yes, I know you're right and actually as a one woman band I have far more scope to adapt anyway. In all honesty my revenue hasn't been that affected but I think the extended worry about the actual virus is the biggest cause of my anxiety .