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The 10 Biggest Challenges Facing Small Businesses

There are many problems that are encountered by business owners throughout the course of managing their business. All entrepreneurs must be prepared for solving problems that come their way. However, creating a startup is not an easy task.

New entrepreneurs are usually not prepared for the problems coming their way. The first thing to do is to understand that problems are an everyday part of every business and then face each problem with determination and a proper solution.

Here are some common faced problems in new businesses and their solutions.

1. Money
Money is known to be one of the major causes of problems that can lead business to failure. For a new business, the biggest mistake is expecting instant profit. Young and eager entrepreneurs start up a business with little money, assuming they will earn big and then invest that money again in their business. It is significant to understand that you cannot get an instant profit at the start of your business. Experts advise not to expect much profit for at least two years. Always prepare for the worst case scenario. Before starting a business, ensure that you have enough money to sustain you at least up to two years. Start slowly and patiently.

2. Time
The phrase ‘time is money’ holds true, especially for a business. It is essential for new businesses to manage their time wisely. Planning everything in advance and ensuring everything is done on time is very important for the prosperity of any business. Ensure the schedule you are making is achievable and stick to it. Give yourself enough time to perform a task with accuracy. Plan your future projects. Make adjustments accordingly. Utilize calendars and planners to make sure you don’t miss an appointment or a deadline. Spending time effectively can actually save you money and even earn you more revenue.

3. Lack of Knowledge/Skills
This is one of the top most mistakes made by entrepreneurs. It is important that you have ample knowledge about the industry you are entering, your competitors, your target market, current trends, advertising and marketing techniques as well as financial know-how. You must possess the skills needed to start up a new business. If you are not prepared, educate yourself. Do proper research, ask other business owners, read relevant books and websites. You may end up with a huge loss if you start your business without having the required knowledge and skills.

4. Information Overload
The only thing constant is change! This phrase is true as well as change is continuous and we witness it happening all around us. Today, information keeps changing. New facts and data keeps emerging and replacing old beliefs and trends. Due to this information overload, it gets difficult to find effective solutions. It becomes a challenge for a new business to sort through this data and come up with good decisions. However, one easy solution is to look for the authenticity of the data. Check its references, and the writer. Learn to use keywords to narrow a research topic. Start asking successful businessmen about their experiences. Learn from them.

5. Lack of Direction and Planning
This problem prevails because of not creating a thorough and detailed business plan. Many young entrepreneurs are so excited about setting up their very own business that they fail to prepare a proper business plan. It helps in focusing on the goal and mission of the business. It determines the financial situation of the business, the roadmap to follow, market research and analysis of the competition. A business plan is basically an investment to your business.

6. Working in the Business rather than Working on the Business
Usually entrepreneurs get so worked up with the paperwork, satisfying customers and doing all the necessary things in keeping the business running. They fail to fulfill some other equally crucial tasks. It is important that you take a day or even a few hours to analyze your business. Determine which area needs attention, do an inventory review, review cash flow of your business, review payrolls and employee benefits. It is also important to update your corporate minutes, your contracts and your agreements with stakeholders annually. Hold meetings with your managers and other employees to connect with them.

7. Innovation
Unfortunately, there are many new startup companies that stick to the age old book rules. They don’t try to create an innovative culture, even majority of the big businesses struggle with innovation. People get accustomed to the work culture and they don’t think outside the box. Businessmen and employees stay away from change and resist whatever changes that take place in the company. The best thing to do is to be open to innovation. When bringing a change, ensure that all your employees are prepared for it. Discuss it with them in a meeting, tell them how important it is to be innovative, make them understand how beneficial it will be.

8. Trying to Do It Alone
Coping with everything alone is also one of the most common mistake new business owners make. They believe that they can manage everything and don’t need any advice or help form anyone. Initially, they do seem to be successful in this strategy as the cost is low since they handle everything. However, as the work starts growing gradually, the workload takes a toll on the new entrepreneur. Mistakes start being made and the quality of work starts decreasing. You may even start losing customers soon. This is why this strategy is not successful in the long run. Hiring two to three employees is more beneficial for a start up business. It is better to pay a small amount to your workers than lose double the amount in the future.

9. Getting Clients
For a new business, it is difficult to attract prospects and retain customers. With a small marketing and advertising budget, new entrepreneurs are unable to reach out to a wider audience. Potential customers are usually hesitant to going for a new business. They prefer going for companies that have experience and a large customer following. However, the good news is big companies charge more. There are many clients and customers who are looking for companies that provide cheaper, but good quality service. Providing excellent service to them will ensure that they remain your customers and even recommend you to others.

10. Poor Marketing
Apart from a detailed business plan, a marketing plan is also important for any business. Once you have a clear idea about your target market and your competition, you can allocate a budget for advertising and promoting your business and decide which medium to advertise through. You can also decide your product pricing through target market analysis. Make sure you that your pricing can be easily afforded by your target market and that your advertising effectively reaches them.

The Future of Entrepreneurship and Start-ups

We live in a day and age in which empowerment and individuality are embraced, and this mindset is only gaining momentum. The future without a doubt belongs to entrepreneurs and this is something to be really excited about. Long gone will be the days in which our commerce was dominated and monopolized by big box corporations and in will come heart-centered businesses in which people will be offering services and products full of passion. As a generation that values happiness over 9-5 cubicle paychecks envelops upon us, we begin to understand the bold transformation of the business world.

Currently, statistics show that amazingly five out of seven job holders in the U.S. will become entrepreneurs in the future, and the reasons behind this are hard to argue with. When you become an entrepreneur, you are your biggest and loudest critic, which brings forth some of the best, highest quality work in the world. Consumers are definitely privy to this fact, and more and more, they are taking their business to a thriving entrepreneur over a corporate entity. If the basic idea of being your own boss isn’t appealing enough, all of the other perks that come along with building a brand that belongs all to your blood, sweat, and tears should seriously make you reconsider your career path. The future of entrepreneurship is headed in a direction we’ve never seen before, and the changes are vastly innovative and fast-approaching. So what changes can you expect in the entrepreneurship world? Here are just a few of the momentous shifts happening.

1. Digital Nomads: This is the embodiment of what it means to be an entrepreneur within the paradigm of the small business. These types of entrepreneurs have been gaining tremendous propulsion as of late, and will only continue to dominate the small business sector. What is a digital nomad? This is someone who offers intangible services through the Internet. They can work from anywhere, at any time, and for any client anywhere in the world. Being a digital nomad means being in a business that virtually has no limits and here, someone can do what they are most passionate about on their own terms. It’s intellectual property that these entrepreneurs are selling, so there are no investments generally for inventory goods or staffing. There is a precious quality of life and empowerment that comes along with choosing this route, but there are also challenges. Not everyone has the self-motivation to work on their own schedule. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is a reality that some digital nomads face. The dedication and discipline it takes to work under absolutely no rules or regulations is hard to come by and it’s definitely not always easy to uphold. And, like for any entrepreneur, there is no guarantee of work from one month to the next, so being savvy with finances is crucial. But on the flipside of this, clients can view digital nomads as extremely valuable to do business with. Consumers have the impression that digital nomads will do good work, as it is their livelihood that depends on repeat business and word of mouth. Digital nomads will take the reins in the years ahead as the type of entrepreneur that paves the way.

2. Aggression Dissolves: In the future of entrepreneurship, we say goodbye to aggressive sales people. We say goodbye to pushy marketing ploys and invasive selling techniques. Entrepreneurs are in touch with a certain type of business value that focuses on the relationships with their customers rather than just the monetary side of things. This flips the script on age old marketing strategies and allows the entrepreneur to sell to their customers in a way that is catered to the business relationship. This further gives entrepreneurs the upper hand over larger corporations that have staunch systems in place for marketing, making the small business owner more appealing to the consumer.

3. Personal Brands: One of the best parts of being your own boss is that you have the power to stay true to your personal brand. The integrity of what you build, what you represent, and the passion that you have to offer people doesn’t have to be sacrificed when you’re the one in charge. For instance, if you’re an entrepreneurial writer, you want to stay true to your written word and there is no traditional publishing company or third party that stands in your way of the market. Your customers get to see the authenticity of what you have to offer and that goes a long way in the terms of value and loyalty.

4. Banding Together: While the entrepreneur of the future will be open and forward thinking when it comes to enlisting a mentorship with a coach, collaboration and partnerships will be key to entrepreneurship successes as well. Long gone will be the days when going it alone seemed to be the most viable option, and enter the method of running a business fueled by trusted relationships. When the entrepreneurial world becomes something based upon inner strengths, passions, and leading with heart, along with that also comes trust and integrity. By putting trust into loved ones or coaches in business, entrepreneurs become extremely empowered to be effective and monumental leaders. Working together in a new age in which small businesses trump old, big box corporations is the only way to be a successful entrepreneur that helps to pave the way for the future. When we band together, we have an entire support system we never did before, and when we reach out for help, we keep our humility, along with always being open to learn new things from one another. Knowledge is power in the future entrepreneurship world and we gain the best wisdom from our peers.

5. Networks Become Currency: Community is everything when it comes to being an entrepreneur in this world and especially in the future. In a business in which you work for yourself and making money while you sleep becomes a reality, you have to make sure you’re honing in on the right networks for your market to aid in that success. Entrepreneurs will focus on networking with other entrepreneurs that can help them expand their business and add even more value to it. And networks aren’t just person-to-person contact. In fact, a large portion of networks will be online through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Engaging with potential clients or trying out new marketing techniques can take place with the click of a mouse or the touch of a smartphone screen on LinkedIn in just seconds. This future type of networking is crucial to the success of any entrepreneur in any type of business, and what’s even better is that it allows you to connect with any network anywhere in the world at any time of day or night.

6. No More Cost Controls: There is no longer a financial barrier when it comes to starting up your own business. The entrepreneur decides what to invest in, as there is a streamlined vision to financial fruition. When an entrepreneur falls into the category of a digital nomad, this becomes even truer, as they are selling intellectual property that has no cap or flow through to be concerned with. Services such as PayPal and the Square allow entrepreneurs to manage their own profits at the simple touch of a button from any computer or smartphone anywhere. Not to mention that transactions are fast and safe, which adds even more to an entrepreneur’s financial freedom.

7. Internet of Things: This fascinating technology has become more and more popular over the last handful of years and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In the age of convenience and instant results, the Internet of Things is something that speeds up our world. What exactly is “The Internet of Things”? It is the concept of which anything with power is connected to the Internet and vice versa. Whether it’s in regards to a toaster or a jet engine, the Internet of Things creates relationships between things and people, or with things-to-things amazingly. The future of this simply, but profoundly states that “anything that can be connected will be connected”. So what does this mean for the future of entrepreneurship? From an organizational and time management standpoint, the Internet of Things makes any budding entrepreneur’s life way easier by streamlining so many systems and processes within a business. Everything from how you manage your money to automatic systems put in place for business practices to even having an efficiently functioning morning alarm clock and scheduling platforms—the Internet of Things makes all this easier on you as an entrepreneur, and not only freeing up time and energy, but also ensuring that your business run the best and smoothest possible. On the other side of the coin, the Internet of Things will be perfect for the small business owner or start-up, as it allows an entrepreneur to offer services or technology necessary to the market that are innovative and original. Entrepreneurs will have the advantage to innovate in an entirely new kind of spectrum, offering services to customers, or to merge with bigger products.

8. Heart-Centric Businesses: Entrepreneurs will turn their businesses into something centered around their hearts, as they are doing what they are born to do. When passion and natural born gifts drive the momentum of a business, there is no better quality of a product or service in this world. Simply by embracing the power of the heart-centric business, entrepreneurs add real value to the world in ways we’ve never seen before. While most people are good at many things, there are only certain gifts we come by naturally and utilizing these to the fullest means the spectrum of entrepreneurship becomes the game changer in global commerce.

9. Choices Become All Your Own: No matter what niche the business is in, an entrepreneur will be able to run that business anywhere in the world of their choosing. There is something to be said about inner happiness and prosperity when it comes to being about to live, work, and breathe where you want. There is nothing more empowering than creating a dream around a place in which you are comfortable and fulfilled. This will give entrepreneurs the ultimate flexibility to create systems in which they can offer the best products and services to the customer while not having to sacrifice their true home.

10. Total Life Transformation: The future of entrepreneurship is a huge life transformation for anyone on board. It’s scary, it’s exciting, and above all, the most rewarding thing you might ever do. To turn your career into something that is one hundred percent true to your core, your gifts, and your spirit is something that we rarely saw in the past. We are coming to a point in time in which more and more people are running full force into that new way of life and giving into doing what they love. The conviction to make an inner passion a career is growing more and more every day, and it is humbly and widely accepted by other fellow entrepreneurs and potential customers. Much like the business these future entrepreneurs will create, their lives will bloom into what they were always meant for and this will translate into bold, inspiring, and cutting edge businesses.

Many people have the dream of working for themselves and being a part of the hugely fortuitous future of the entrepreneur world, but not everyone has tapped into their gifts to get there. Are you having difficulty discovering your life purpose and the passion you could bring to the future successes of entrepreneurship? Ask yourself these simple five questions to spark the flame within yourself that will guide you towards your true gifts.

✓ Between the ages of 4-16, what was your passion? Who we were as children tells us more about ourselves than we could ever imagine.
✓ Think about deep conversations you have with your closest loved ones—what topics seem to keep coming up? Chances are, if you’re talking about it constantly to those you trust the most, then there is a deeper, meaningful reason for this.
✓ If money was not an issue, what would you be doing? Imagining a life of financial freedom gives you the opportunity to really be honest with yourself about how you would spend your life.
✓ What fills you with the most energy? Energy is everything in a person and you must find what radiates the most positive kind from within
✓ What area do people typically ask for your help or opinion in? People will take notice of your natural abilities, most times more so than you yourself do.
✓ What are your non-negotiable values? Your deepest morals really shine a light on what the purpose of your life entails.
✓ If you knew you would die a year from now, how would you want the world to remember you? This speaks for itself, as the legacy we leave is ultimately our greatest passion.

Can a Test Determine Your Aptitude for Entrepreneurship?

What is the actual make-up of an entrepreneur? Does it take a certain personality, a mish mash of the right character traits, or a certain type of passion that a vast majority of people cannot tap into? Realistically, there’s not much science backing to help determine a real answer, but what about the next closest thing—personality tests? These types of tests are world renowned for pegging personality types on point, and they can take a step further by categorizing some of the most influential and successful entrepreneurs in history.

Personality tests have been used for fun, to steer a person in the right direction as far as schooling, career paths, or even within the home life. More specifically, it’s natural to wonder just what tell-tale signs a legitimate personality test could uncover in regards to the personality profile of an entrepreneur and what successes or failures could await them. To be clear, not just any personality test will be efficient in arbitrating a human being’s aptitude for entrepreneurship. Only a few select personality tests—all in splendidly differentiating forms—make the cut of an accredited psychological assessment that is tried and true, and could turn out to be a guiding beacon towards an entrepreneurial future. Let’s take a list at the seven personality tests that could reveal more insight than one ever thought possible.

1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): “Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.” ~Carl Jung

Without a doubt, the MBTI personality test is the most popular and well known in the world. This 93-question test is taken by over a million people a year and holds strong to Carl Jung’s theory on personality types. Though like any such psychological testing, it has been met with skepticism, and while the MBTI shouldn’t be the only assessment you utilize as a tool when searching for an entrepreneurial purpose, it is definitely a must have on your list of resources. Time and time again, universities, government entities, and big corporations have used the MBTI when searching for quality employees, professors, students, and future entrepreneurs.

How It Works: 16 personality types fall within 4 categories, which form a single psyche of a character wrapped up in a clever acronym. Of course, saying that the entire world can fit into just a 16 x 4 box should definitely be met with a suspended bit of disbelief, however there is some pretty solid logic behind it. Here are the 4 main categories broken down:
1. Favorite World: Does your focus like within you (Introversion) or with the outside world (Extraversion)?
2.Information: Do you process basic data as it comes to you for face value (Sensing) or do you interpret your own way and add more value to it (Intuition)?
3. Decisions: When making decisions, do you make those decisions objectively (Thinking) or subjectively (Feeling)?
4. Structure: Are you prone to making decisions immediately and moving on (Judging), or do you prefer to keep your options open for more information that the outside world could throw your way (Perceiving)?

After taking the MBTI test, you’ll come away with your very own four-letter acronym that covers the most important basis of your personality and character. It is said that the ENTP acronym is the ultimate representation of an entrepreneur personality, however there have been many exceptions to this rule. Just because you don’t fit that MBTI mold doesn’t mean you don’t have a bright entrepreneurial future ahead of you, and this again is why the MBTI shouldn’t be your only source for personality assessment.

2. DISC (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance): “Realize what you really want. It stops you from chasing butterflies and puts you to work digging gold.” ~William Moulton Marston

Trailing close behind the accolades of the MBTI assessment is William Marston’s DISC behavioral test. Brought to us by a man who boasts a law degree, psychologist work, and the inventor of the polygraph test and the original Wonder Woman comic, Marston was the definition of a passionate entrepreneur in several different arenas. The DISC assessment—much like the MBTI—is taken by over a million people a year. The DISC hones in on the teamwork potential and the specific behavioral traits of a person, instead of just the individual personality itself. This is a brilliant tool when assessing the potential of a future successful entrepreneur and it can drastically help to increase the productivity and communication of a team based workforce. What’s great about this test is that it can be used once someone is already on a fruitful entrepreneurial path, to better relationship and adaptation skills.

How It Works: There are four key components to personality types: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. You take the assessment and you are rated for your top to bottom strengths in these four areas. One component in particular will be dominant over the other three.
1. Dominance: You prioritize accomplishing results, are confident and bold in your abilities.
2. Inducement: You are approachable, exceptional at forming relationships, and extremely persuading.
3. Submission: You are dependable and focus largely on cooperation and sincere authenticity.
4. Compliance: Your main priorities are always logical, as you prefer quality and competent work from an objective standpoint.
What’s exceptional about DISC behavior profiles is that unlike personality, behavior can be changed or coached. People tend to change within different environments (such as home and work), and this is something that can be transformed. DISC is really all about adapting and being flexible as you develop relationships with people of all different backgrounds and personalities.

3. VALS (Values, Attitudes, and Lifestyles): VALS is a different kind of assessment in that it focuses on your relationship as an entrepreneur with your customers. It helps you to better understand your market and what exactly it is that your client base really wants the most. This transforms you into an influential leader and keeps you ahead of the curve in your business. It helps you to build your brand and to showcase your value to your customers. In a sense, VALS is the perfect market research tool all wrapped up in an assessment.

How It Works: VALS breaks down the consumer personality into 8 types. 2 critical concepts are then merged with the personality type: primary motivation and resources. These last 2 concepts allow you to see just why and how a consumer will make choices the way that they do, which gives you a more accurate forecast advantage.
1. Innovators: These are dominant personalities who are confident and take charge.
2. Thinkers: These are well-informed personalities who are motivated by ideals.
3. Believers: These are moral personalities who are rooted in age-old values and traditions.
4. Achievers: These personalities are always pushed forward by goals and you will never meet an achiever who is ever satisfied with just one completed goal.
5. Strivers: These fun personalities are trendsetters that you always want to keep your eye on for marketing opportunities. They are the catalysts of the “word of mouth” success.
6. Experiencers: These personalities are usually younger and more rash and impulsive in their experiences.
7. Makers: These independent personalities are very hands on and are extremely resourceful.
8. Survivors: These cautious personalities are simple in their tastes and typically take a long time to think on something before they come to a decision. They are not big fans of change.

4. StrengthsFinder: This one-of-a-kind assessment is a special one, as it focuses on only strengths within a personality—not weaknesses. While areas of opportunity are always good to know about so that we can be our best selves, it’s refreshing to be able to examine the most positive attributes in detail. This test is especially wonderful for aiding in finding a purpose-driven life and to understand your own specific gifts that you offer as an entrepreneur.

How It Works: 34 “talent themes” are measured with this assessment. “Talents” are people’s natural gifts gauged by reoccurring feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. While the list is extensive, it features talent themes such as Achiever, Focus, Harmony, Relator, and Intellection. These themes are versatile and cover a wide span of what it means to be a passionate human being. By focusing on the best of our strengths, we are able to open our eyes to all the possibilities our natural gifts hold for us and what value we can offer the world.

5. Genius Test: “Every culture, nationality, and religion can also be understood as forming from a type. This philosophy on types is so grand in its applications that it instantly expands consciousness.” ~Bob Cooley

The Genius test is an out-of-the-box and albeit fairly new assessment of personality. The test pinpoints the “type” of a person, which is determined at the time of conception, and is better known as a genetic blueprint of who you are. The idea is that this “type” you are born with never changes, no matter what life’s conditions hand to you. This is a much more introspective test that helps you to really look inside yourself and in others completely bare and authentic. When someone can be viewed as a “type” over all other labels, it helps you to better connect and understand.

How It Works: This test involves a self-filmed, five minute video that is sent to the GPT Foundation in Boston, where founder Bob Cooley and his experts will watch the video and determine what genius type personality you are. Check out the 16, pretty self-explanatory types below:
1. The Genius of Decision Making and Devotion
2. The Genius of Freedom and Giving
3. The Genius of Truth and Power
4. The Genius of Perfection and Completion
5. The Genius of Sobriety and Self-Knowing
6. The Genius of Peace and Communication
7. The Genius of Unconditional Love and Right Action
8. The Genius of Creativity and Passion
9. The Genius of Mastery and Problem Solving
10. The Genius of Intimacy and Will
11. The Genius of Openness and Judiciousness
12. The Genius of Athletics and Community
13. The Genius of Hope and Honesty
14. The Genius of Understanding and Humor
15. The Genius of Change and Integrity
16. The Genius of Healing and Soul

6. Passion Test: This assessment is all about finding your true passion and it is the most vital test you can take on your journey as an entrepreneur. While it is the simplest of all the personality assessments featured, that doesn’t take away from its significance to your life and prosperity as an entrepreneur.

How It Works: Answer 7 simple rate-style questions that range from things like “I make decisions on what will help me live my passions most fully” and “I spend my days doing what I love, surrounded by people I love”. These questions are then analyzed into a personalized Passion Test Profile just for you. Your specific profile then gives you resources into how to find your true passion in life. While the specific Passion Profiles do not have titles, each question you answered is broken down and analyzed for you to better understand yourself.

7. Carol Tuttle’s Energy Profiles: Known as one of the best personality assessment tools out there, Energy Therapist Carol Tuttle’s Energy Profile test assesses both characteristics and behavior. The test is based around our DNA and how the components create every bit of our true selves. This is the perfect mirror for any person—or entrepreneur—to take a long, hard look in the mirror at themselves. It is a test that can help you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and can help you grow.

How It Works: The test puts people into four different possible type categories. These “Four Types” as they are referred to come from the idea that we are made up of 4 main elements: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. Every person possesses a dominant strength in one of these 4 types.
1. Type 1, Nitrogen: Bubbly personality that attracts people easily and is an eternal optimist.
2. Type 2, Oxygen: Calm demeanor with a patient personality and a love for facts.
3. Type 3, Hydrogen: A natural born leader who is constantly on the move for action.
4. Type 4, Carbon: Objective and logical thinker with the intellectual gifts to innovate.

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Improve Your Marketing

Ever heard of the term, “Sex Sells”? The reason that this term is so redundant in culture today is simply, it works. The question is why it works? Sex is a very basic instinct that drives every person at their most primal levels. Maslow’s Hierarchy proves this in marketing and business. His theory is very profound and yet simple at the same time. Maslow’s Pyramid has many levels, but at the base is physiological needs. Once these needs are met there is an ascending order until a person reaches the pinnacle which is the need for personal growth or self actualization. Each of these levels appeal to different people. A good marketing / business strategy will utilize these insights to reach for the desired affect for its intended target audience.

The easiest to market is the basic needs because everyone needs food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep. However, in marketing it’s not enough just to show a nice house. For example, the marketing for housing often shows a family playing in the yard and then entering the house to sit around the kitchen. Why not just show the house by itself? In this scenario, the marketing strategy is hitting as many different levels of Maslow’s theory as possible. The family playing together in the yard shows that they feel secure with the house. The fact that there is a family there shows their basic needs were already met. Intimacy is implied because of the husband, wife and children, the nuclear family. The presence of the children also lends to the fact that there has been reproduction of the species. All of this is being said without words and hits the four base levels of Maslow’s Pyramid.

Reaching the upper levels of the pyramid is not a difficult task either. Using the same housing example with the family there is an easy step to moving it to the top of the pyramid. If the same family that is playing in the front yard goes inside and we see a study or den full of books and the next image shows the kids sitting down doing homework while the parents are researching something for work, what does the picture tell you now? All of the basic levels are there from food to personal growth and the understanding is presented in a commercial that is only thirty-five seconds long. This is just one aspect of the use of the theory but all good marketing strategies hit as many of these needs as possible based upon the product being marketed.

Maslow’s theory on the surface seems very crude in some ways, but, on further reflection the eloquence of his observations have made huge strides for marketing techniques. In today’s visual media and instant access to information a human being’s basic needs still need to be addressed or none of the levels above mean anything. When a strategy is developed for a product the question must be asked, what basic need does it fulfill and then take it up from there. If the product is athletic wear, the marketing strategy is going to use attractive athletic models sweating hard on the court or in the gym. If the product is software for a computer, the pitch is to make work easier so you can get back to what counts, family. All of these marketing strategies present the same things, how it benefits the audience and how that relates to the basic instincts of the human psyche. Understanding these basic principles of behavior is the key to reaching your audience.

A consumer’s shopping habits are based off all of Maslow’s hierarchy levels. Going back to the example of marketing a house, the first need is shelter, without it we are vulnerable to the elements and inclement weather. The next level would be safety, the consumer needs to feel safe, a home with a security system will make one feel safe from intruders and home invasion. Going back to the family scene in their home, if you were to show an intruder attempting to break-in, but is stopped due to the loud alarm, unless the target audience already has an alarm system, the consumer will no longer feel safe without one and will most likely purchase a system to feel safe once again.

Once the consumer’s basic needs are met food, shelter, clothing, then security and safety, they will look for the next level, comfort, family and friends. In the example of home, the basic would be shelter followed by safety. That would make comfort and relationships the next step, filling one’s home with comfortable furnishings like a nice soft bed, sofas and chairs for example, or making one’s home visitor friendly. How are consumer choices or behaviors influenced by relationships? Using once again the marketing of housing, you can set the scene of social gatherings. Is your home large enough to accommodate your growing family? Do you need a larger back yard for all those BBQs you will be having with friends and family? You may need to purchase more furniture for all those intimate gatherings.

After the need of social fulfillment is met and relationships are created, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, a person starts to desire personal achievement and a feeling of material success. All their basic needs are met, they have shelter, clothing, safety, a social life and comfort. The need or desire for something more begins to arise. A bigger home in an up-scale neighborhood is a way consumers fulfill this level of need. Does “Keeping up with the Jones” ring any bells? By wearing better clothes, driving a newer car, and living in an expensive house a consumer not only feels a boost in their self-esteem, they are sending a message to the rest of the world, they have made it.

The final tier in Maslow’s hierarchy is morality, creativity and reaching one’s full potential. Once a person has reached this level, they no longer feel a satisfaction from the material things, they have good relationships, and food on the table with a roof over their head, but the desire for something more will begin to tug at their conscious. They may start to seek out self-improvement courses, or travel for the experience and not the social status.

As a consumer, one may look to hobbies to fulfill their creative need, gardening, painting or arts and crafts for example. Morality will rear its head in ways like, what one can can do to help his fellow man, it may start by giving away or donating furniture, extra clothing or time to those that are less fortunate. Many grocery stores will have food donation receptacles reminding those to help meet the basic needs of the poor. Around the holidays, toy drives and wish lists are prominently displayed in departments stores prompting charitable emotions for consumers with more disposable income than the average shopper, a person who has reached the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Using Vision Boards to Transform Your Business

Every business has a vision and goals to lead it towards prosperity. In order to follow and accomplish these goals and vision, strategic planning takes place.


There are several tools that can help you through this process. A vision board is one such tool.


Represented by a mixture of images and texts related to your goals and desires, vision boards remind you of your goals every day and give you the motivation to follow them. They are simple, easy and fun to make.


THE BENEFITS
A vision board is simply about what you want now and in your future. Here are some benefits of creating a vision board:

• Visualizing and thinking about the goals for your business, then including images and motivational texts on a board enhances the likelihood of achieving them.

• When you see the board everyday highlight your dreams for your business and the goals you want to achieve, it automatically energizes you and motivates you to work harder.

• The visualization encourages you to think outside the box and assists you in opening up to new possibilities.

• It helps overcome obstacles that come your way, as the vision board serves as a reminder about what you will achieve after all these problems and obstacles are resolved.

• It keeps you focused on your goals.

THE TOOLS
Creating a vision tool is extremely easy and can be made with a vast range of media. From simple pencil sketches to colorful magazine cut images, from paintings to graphic art, anything and everything can be utilized to make a vision board. The most significant thing is to know what you want from your future. Some basic tools that can be used are as follows:

Board: A white board, blackboard, cork board, foam board, or a poster board can be used to make your vision board.

Adhesive: Whichever glue you can find to stick the images together on the board. You can also use removable adhesive so that you can keep updating your vision board without ruining any images.

Images: Pictures that represent your goals and dreams – opening a new branch of your business, designing a new office, more satisfied clients/customers, opening an international office. Print out from computers, your own sketches and drawings, magazine cutouts, stickers etc.

Text: Some words that can describe your vision and goals briefly or some motivational words to keep you going.

You: Yes! You are the most important part of a vision board. Use pictures of yourself, your name, or your business logo on your vision board to make it more personal.

Get all the supplies ready and while keeping your vision in mind, start playing around with images and words. Be as creative as you can be. Place it in your cabin, in a place where all the employees can see it. You can turn it into a group activity to keep your employees motivated and moving towards specified goals.

THE PROCESS
The process of using vision boards to transform your business is easy and enjoyable. Here is how it works:

1. Setting Goals
Having specific business goals are essential for this process. Think about how you want to see your business in the future. You can include short-term goals and long-term goals as well; generating better revenues, increasing job satisfaction for employees, opening an international office etc.

2. Visualizing
Visualize how your goals look like and how you’d like to feel when you reach them. Use images, symbols or words to represent your goal or maybe the journey to reach it. For better revenues, use a number to represent what your annual or monthly target will be. For opening an international office, place an image of the country’s flag you want to open your office in.

3. Believing
Start believing in yourself and your team. Once you actually ‘see’ you goal, it becomes clearer, realistic, and attainable. Believe that you and your employees can manage to reach these goals and fulfill the vision gradually.

4. Employee Motivation
Once you visualize your goals, involve your employees. Create a group activity for the employees to make their own vision boards. Or use your vision board to motivate them to achieve the specified target. Once you truly believe that the goals are attainable, your employees will start believing it too. This way, you will reach those goals faster.

5. Strategize
Start figuring out how each goal can be achieved. Keep your team in the loop. Discuss ideas and solutions for possible problems. Break the tasks into smaller steps to make it more achievable. Create a roadmap and start following it.

6. Move Towards Your Goals
Don’t just make a vision board and hang it somewhere, take action. You have made the preparations and now the time to act has come. Keep updating your vision board and make necessary changes in your strategy. Be prepared for obstacles and detours you might have to take. Don’t give up and keep your employees motivated.

Vision boards turn your dreams and goals from mere speculation, to something solid, which you can see. Actually more than 40% of the world population is sensitive to sight (visuals). The more specific and vivid the vision board, the better motivator it will be. Keep it somewhere where you and your employees can see it every day. It will keep everyone motivated as they will see their goals and get to know how they will feel once the goal is achieved. This improves the possibility of fulfilling those goals as everyone will be enthusiastically working to achieve them.

A Vision Board is a strong tool promoting behavioral change which, when combined with your hard work and support network, can make any goal achievable. The goal setting common phrase ‘see it, believe it, achieve it’ is represented through vision boards. From the initial process of visualizing, to the completion of the goal, vision boards ensure that you are kept reminded of what you really want. It shows why you have to be persistent and work harder.