Understanding the Needs and Wants of Your Business

From a young age, we are taught about the differences between a need and a want.  We know that we have only a few, true, basic needs, and many, many wants.  In business, it’s no different, but it’s a lot harder to differentiate and understand.  We’re going to explore the needs and wants that business owners have, a few pros and cons for each, as well as what the happy medium solution is. Here are a few examples of each, and how to focus on what your business actually needs to succeed.

Clients/Customers

The backstory: Clients and customers are the only way we, as a business, make a profit.  We need not only happy customers, but enough happy customers to run a sustainable business.  We also need to continually bring in new customers in order to sustain and grow our company.
Needs: To find the right customers to buy your product/service so that you can make a profit.
Wants: Ability to delegate work to others in your organization so you can increase sales and make an even higher profit.
Pros: Targeting the right audience gets better results so that you can build a scalable business.
Cons: It’s hard to trust someone else to do the work that you specialize in, including business development.
The happy medium:
Identifying the right target audience of customers allows you to expand your business when you’re ready.  Without an idea of how to target these clients and customers, you’re left with whatever sales come in – but you’re not finding the right people often enough.  Building a hiring plan will help you to find the right talent to handle the work tasks that tie you to a heavy workload.  It’s hard to get everything done, so building a plan to pass those skills off to qualified or vetted individuals will help you do things that add to the bottom line, or allow you to separate yourself from your business once in a while.  Building on customer retention and increasing the average lifetime value of your customers is crucial to building sustainability in your business.  Creating a referral program that allows your long-term clients to promote your business (for a perk) is helpful for forecasting sales.

Employee Retention

The backstory: In addition to having a steady flow of customers, we need steady, consistent employees to help us operate and grow our business.  High turnover is costly and creates significant problems within the company.
Needs: To have consistent, loyal staff to support our business, our customers, and our customer experience.
Wants: To increase the average span of employment while decreasing training time and costs associated with replacing a staff member.
Pros: It’s easier to manage a business with low turnover.
Cons: If growth opportunities aren’t presented and skills are underutilized, employees will look for other employment opportunities.
The happy medium:
One thing that’s said over and over is that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.  Making sure that your company culture is attractive and offering opportunities for employees to determine their own schedules, job titles, skills utilized, and offering other workplace flexibility (when feasible) will increase employee engagement and decrease work stress.  This allows them to take ownership of their positions and puts their growth opportunities in their hands.  By offering team building and occasional, consistent training, everyone will be on the same page – plus encouraging professional development will help everyone build skills and grow together.  Making sure that management understands the goals of the company and are healthfully managing their stress and workload are key to keeping everyone happy with their employment.

Marketing

The backstory: Every business owner should understand the importance of marketing, and should want those efforts to equate to profit for the business; however, it can be difficult to know what to do, what to spend, and how to track results of these efforts.
Needs: A strategic plan, advertising budget, and both an online and offline presence.
Wants: To do it in-house with a dedicated marketing expert that can guarantee high conversions.
Pros:  These efforts can grow your business.
ConsIt might not be within the set budget and might be extremely time-consuming for someone that doesn’t have the right skill set.
The happy medium:
A lot of small businesses are not equipped to handle hiring a dedicated marketing person.  Budget-wise, you’re looking at around $50,000 per year minimum to bring on someone who has the knowledge and experience of the wide scope of multiple positions, and that might not be a feasible option.  Hiring contractors or a marketing agency can help you cover your needs AND wants by offering experts who handle your marketing for you, but don’t require a dedicated workspace on-site, and can develop and execute a strategy that’s the right size and budget for your business.

Office Space

The backstory: A lot of the work that happens for a business isn’t customer-facing, and business owners need space to do that work.  Many small businesses attempt to handle this work from a home office or in the midst of operations, but find that to be less-than-ideal due to multiple interruptions and distractions.
Needs: A set area to handle work, preferably away from home life and distractions, that has internet, workspace, and office supplies.
WantsA rented or leased office space that fits the specific needs of your business and offers a branded feel to visitors and for meetings.
ProsThere are tax breaks associated with having dedicated office space.
Cons: It can be expensive to set up an office, especially one that doesn’t require a lot of space.  Leased offices that are budget-friendly may be hard to find.
The happy medium:
When you need to break away from your home-based business, or can’t focus inside your retail store, workshop, or other business, heading to the library or a coworking space may be your best bet.  Libraries offer a quiet space with few distractions, allowing you to focus a few hours per day.  A coworking space may be a bit busier, but it offers dedicated and flexible workspace with access to multiple resources that can help you build and grow your business.  Coworking memberships are also business write-offs.  Sometimes even heading to the local coffee shop, restaurant, or park (with a mobile hotspot or work not dependent on wi-fi access) can help you focus by giving you a different environment.

Vacation

The backstoryBusiness owners feel the pressure to be present and visible in their business all day, every day.  This takes a toll on both their physical and mental health, but it can be hard to find the right person to cover so you can take time away.
Needs: Separation from work, home, technology, with boundaries set for clients, customers, and staff.
Wants: To get away from their business for a few days at a time without stress and worry, preferably in another locale.
Pros: Getting away from work is a huge boost for your mental health.
Cons: It can be expensive to pay extra staff and travel expenses for a vacation.
The happy medium:
Utilizing weekends and creating long-weekends (3-days) away as often as possible might be enough of a break to reset your mind. Planning one extended vacation per year will help you to keep costs lower.  In order to take even a day away from your business, you need to identify a staff member that you can trust to make decisions for the business when you are unavailable.  Training someone to manage the business in your absence is crucial to your mental health, because even if you’re physically away from the business if you’re worried, your mind will be too distracted to enjoy your time away, and will keep you from stepping away in the future.
Business has a LOT of wants and needs, and with a little planning, most of them can be realized.  What needs and wants, pros and cons have you identified in your business?  If we didn’t cover them, let us know in the comments!

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