Is it a Need?

By Dave Favor, The Wise OwlSomeone asks you, ‘is that a want or a need?’ Good question, but the answer may not be that simple. A need is something that is necessary, let’s say to live a healthy life. My question is, who decided that it was necessary? I would suggest that a need (other than water, food and basic shelter) is just a high priority want. Your needs will create wants, and your wants will create more needs. In order to identify true needs, you have to understand your purpose, vision or mission.

It does not make any difference if you are looking at your life or your business; you have to understand your purpose to understand your needs. We (Cheryl and I) were doing a seminar when she said that my desire for a motorhome was clearly a want and not a need. The only way she can make a statement like that is if she knows what my vision or purpose is. That is the problem with making judgments about the needs of others. If you do not have a clearly defined purpose, then you also have that problem.

As long as you have a strategic plan for your business that defines your vision (or purpose) you can define your needs. Here is an example: you define the vision for your law firm to be, “We provide legal services to our clients with compassion and pride.” If you are a small business, your vision might be, “We will provide over the top service to our customers.” Now you decide you need a new fancy building to realize that vision. Is this a want or a need? Well, based on your vision, this is probably a want.

This brings up an interesting thought – The vaguer your purpose is, the more difficult it is to identify if you have a want or a need. To better understand your needs you must have a detailed understanding of your vision. There are several ways to accomplish that detail for a business. For example, you can do a gap or SWOT analysis. This year we will talk a lot about both. Before you buy that fancy case management system, new building or a company car, do some strategic planning.

You can see how this may happen in a business. Look at your relationships, and you will see that the same thing can happen. If you do not agree on your purpose or vision, your partner or family will not buy into your stated needs. There is another way to look at this. Turn that analysis around and look at it. Let’s say that your partner is always bringing up something that you are convinced is a want, and even perhaps a low priority want. Why is your partner doing this? Well, it is likely that this is a true need for your partner based on their vision. The discrepancy is you do not understand or believe in the vision that is driving this need. This is a common cause for partnerships and businesses failing.

Whose ‘want’ and whose ‘need’ is based on whose vision? Yours or someone elses? When everyone is aligned with a vision, the question and its answer becomes amazingly simple.

Dave Favor is the President and principal in Catalyst Group, Inc. He brings to the table over 50 years high-level business and management experience, including time at IBM and as a private consultant to major Fortune 500 companies. Dave’s experience allows him to bring to the table a way of running a business that small business and law firms can strategically leverage. A teacher of self-mastery, leadership, and business principles, he is a believer in value-based living and working; Dave is truly the Wisest of Owls. Catalyst Group, Inc. is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is known for its mentoring of small businesses and law firms.