I’m halfway through Module Two of Jeff Walker‘s Product Launch Formula class online. We’re elbow deep in product testing at the Dessinger homestead, and Jeff is helping to frame the launch we will undertake in the very near future.
During one of the first videos of PLF Core, Jeff introduced a chart he called the Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’re unfamiliar with the original hierarchy of needs chart by Maslow, it’s structured to show the order of needs which people are driven to satisfy. You don’t attempt to facilitate world peace, for example, when you haven’t had enough food or water to keep you alive. So basic survival comes first, and we work our way up from there.
The Entrepreneur’s Hierarchy of Needs looks a little different, but if you’ve ever tried to venture out on your own, I think you might identify with this order.
Show Me the Money
When starting a business or launching a product, you start to meet a core need: You gotta make some money. Maybe you lost your day job. Maybe you’re adding children to the family and yesterday’s income doesn’t cut it anymore. Maybe you moved from Fort Worth to Los Angeles and you can’t even afford to eat anymore. Whatever the case, you launch your first product or business to earn money. To stay alive.
You might put in 17 hour days to build that first launch. You might work for 2 years straight with no days off. But eventually, you launch your product and you start making real money. Check.
Redeeming the Time
It’s great to not starve or get kicked out onto the street. So earning money from your own business feels great for quite a while. The sense of accomplishment is palpable. But eventually, the long hours required to maintain the income you’ve acquired takes its toll. There are missed playdates and holidays and family dinners. You realize that if something doesn’t change your children will grow up without knowing you. So you look to redeem your Time.
Some people solve the problem of Time by choosing to earn less. They see how much they can make in their current state of endless frenzy and they decide to make less by working less often. In a best case scenario, this works, and you can eek by on a lower income and get back some of that sanity you surrendered when you started this whole thing.
Seriously, Time is important. Without time, you lose mental bandwidth to process information and think clearly. Without personal time, you miss out on feeling human, which accumulates until your health can become the biggest issue in your life.
So you adapt and change. You start thinking about delegating, hiring employees, and passive income. Your effort shifts from simple but grueling product creation and support to legitimately sustainable offerings.
Hopefully you haven’t lost all your friends by the time you get to focus on reestablishing relationships. Children and spouses are usually first, but close personal friends, siblings and parents rank up there too. No one is an island. We each need other people to balance us out, help us connect, and allow us opportunities to care and to give.
Reaching the relationship stage is key for long-term quality of life. Until you have people you can count on, EVERYTHING is harder. And I mean everything. Until you begin building relationships, you’ll have less support, less fulfillment, less feedback, less encouragement, less connection, and less motivation.
If all goes relatively well and your business is thriving under your management, you have personal time to feel human, and you feel close to the people you love most, it’s time to address your purpose.
Making money is great, but financial gains rarely satisfy anyone. Having BFFs is also amazing, but friends are people you walk shoulder to shoulder with, toward a common goal. What do you hope to accomplish? Not just in earnings. What mark do you want to make on the world?
Your own personal needs come first. You can’t save someone else if you’re drowning. So you take care of you. Then you take care of others.
Maybe you want to teach younger adults to do what you’ve done only faster. Maybe you want to adopt animals that need to be rescued. Maybe you shape your business into a mechanism that causes social change. Maybe you use your success and reputation to influence CEOs, politicians, or celebrities.
The possibilities are endless. But the entrepreneur isn’t done until he or she is fulfilling a purpose greater than themselves.
Food for thought. Thanks to Jeff Walker for the inspiration. Hopefully you’ll find it useful as you navigate your own path.