Good business ideas often come from trying to solve human problems or meet people’s needs. In essence, good business is just excellent service to fellow people. In 1943 a guy called Abraham Maslow described a hierarchy of human needs which has come to be known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” This framework of needs can help us to identify potential business opportunities.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be arranged like a pyramid and include physiological needs – at the bottom of the pyramid, security and safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs – at the top of the pyramid. People generally meet their needs starting from the bottom and progress upwards as their needs are satisfied. It’s difficult to self-actualize when you’re hungry!
Physiological Needs:- The physiological needs include those that are vital to survival. Some examples of physiological needs include food, water, air, shelter, clothing, and sexual reproduction. Potential business ideas to meet physiological needs include housing, rentals, food production, supply of water and drinks, sex therapy, sale of clothing, sale of clean air, air conditioning, fashion + design, restaurants, food delivery, etc.
Security and Safety Needs:- Some of the basic security and safety needs include: Financial security, Health and wellness, and Safety against accidents and injury. Potential business ideas include financial advisory, money lending, financial services, retirement planning, nutrition, gym, fitness coaching, home security solutions, dog breeding and training for home security, insurance, helmet vending, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and telemedicine, etc.
Social Needs:- The social needs in Maslow’s hierarchy include love, acceptance, and belonging. At this level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behavior. So anything which helps to bring people together is a potential business idea. Potential business ideas at this level include event organizers, community projects and clubs, social networking apps and sites, counseling services, investment clubs, SACCOs, etc.
Esteem Needs:- At the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for appreciation and respect. Once the needs at the bottom three levels have been satisfied, the esteem needs begin to play a more prominent role in motivating behavior. Possible commercial ventures include anything which helps people bolster their confidence, strengths, and competence. Any form of teaching, coaching, mentoring, counseling, training, etc. will fall here.
Self-Actualization Needs:- At the very peak of Maslow’s hierarchy are the self-actualization needs. Self-actualization is the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, etc. Anyone who helps other people realize their full potential is indeed very powerful. That’s why spiritual leaders in our communities wield a lot of power. You can self-actualize in any trade if you achieve such competence that you’re in the top ten percent of your field. That’s why we adore celebrities and top sportsmen. These people seem to represent the very epitome of excellence and we are drawn to it.
In conclusion, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides us with a conceptual framework to define human needs. Once we understand other people’s needs we can create solutions to meet these needs. In meeting these needs we are then rewarded with money. So the question is: whom are you serving today?