One of the things my coaching clients need is to feel secure. When I did a quick search, what came up was the need for emotional safety – it’s more than that. So I’ve gone back to my favourite, Maslow, and his hierarchy of needs to look at allows us to feel secure and how it applies to running a small business.
Psychological purists would say that security only comes in at the second level of safety. I would say that they are taking a narrow definition of security and not applying how the person feels to each level and that’s what I will do.
Physiological Needs & feeling secure
Our physiological needs come back to shelter, food, water, sleep – the basics for survival. As a business owner, we need to feel secure that we can provide these things for our business, ourselves, and/or our family. Small business live, breathe & sleep their business. It’s often the sleep part we neglect; either through stress or through long hours
Alternatively, we can look at these as the basic costs (needs) of survival. In a business that can be wages, a means of securing new business, licenses, insurances, plant, equipment, and materials.
These, and whatever you and your business determine, are the most basic needs. Maslow stated that to feel ‘security’ we must have these met. In business, I meet many small business owners who worry where the money is coming from and as such do not feel secure in their business’ ability to meet their personal or business needs. In turn, this has them questioning their ability, worth and the worth of their business. Sometimes, they’re right in questioning these things. Sometimes it’s their own self-doubt, self-confidence, or imposter syndrome kicking in and leaving them questioning their abilities and by default their ability to provide the security they need.
Safety, small business, and feeling secure
Maslow saw safety and security as things such as:
– physical and emotional safety
– law & order
As a small business owner, I have to say that my business has had a negative impact on each of these; yes, even law & order. The nature of owning and running a small business means that there can be little to no security in these at times.
While we can insure our health and our income, there are rules and the prospect that we may not be able to operate our business as once before. That’s if it’s our own health that fails. Most of us run a small business for the flexibility it offers our family, so what happens when it’s the health of our family that impacts on our business? The health of our staff?
If we consider employment more as a wage or income, then this can be an issue for some business owners. I know that when I ran my first business, I didn’t draw a wage at all. Then there’s having a stable income, or a reserve of money to draw on in lean business times. There’s also having the income to secure staff wages.
Law and order can be tricky. We need to navigate our legal obligations in the course of carrying out our business, having staff, running an online business. There’s a lot to get our heads around.
Stability, hmmm. What to say? I think it’s something we strive for, have for periods of time, and then strive for again. The processes and procedures we put in place provide a framework to give us stability. By it’s nature, running a business means that we become ok with the idea of instability. This can lead to an internal fight of our inherent need for stability and our reality of running a small business.
Love, belonging & being a small business owner
If I’m honest, this is where I struggle (thanks imposter syndrome) as I don’t always feel like I belong. I know I have peers in my industry but I never feel like I measure up. Humans, as social creatures, need to feel like we belong. We need our tribe of like people around us. The irony is that we compare so much that we (ok, I) can alienate ourselves and remove the thing we so deeply desire. (Not to mention the adage of safety in numbers)
Thankfully I have two tools I use when I have clients who feel like they don’t belong. One is a bit of a trade secret (it’s powerful and needs to be individualized, no seriously) and the other you can get in this downloadable toolkit. These two tools help us discover our belonging and from there we can feel secure in our place.
The key to it is leaving comparison at the door. There is no place for it because we just don’t know the reality of who we’re comparing ourselves to. And that’s where I find security.
It’s not just about being ok with me, it’s about being ok with not having a whole heap of people around me; it’s about having the right people.
Esteem & felling secure
Maslow included the following in his need for esteem:
– achievement, and
– acceptance by others.
I look at it as feeling secure with ourselves and our place in ‘the world’. I believe that in order to feel secure here, we need to have the courage to be objective with ourselves and to work on making ourselves secure in this place.
Self-actualisation & small business ownership
This is the ‘holy grail’ of Maslow motivation. Being all we can be. Some might say ‘living our best life’.
When I looked it up the other words used were morality & creativity. I think feeling secure in our morality & creativity would certainly fit; I’m hoping that being moral or creative aren’t only the domain of those of us who are self-actualised. (and I don’t think they are)
Transcendence: the ‘bonus’ level
I had never known of this level until now. Self-actualisation was always the pinnacle & it seems that I was not alone in not knowing about transcendence and self-transcendence.
At its core we achieve transcendence when we are helping others achieve self-actualisation, when we are focused on others and higher goals which are not self-serving.
Perhaps it’s the company I keep, or the work I do, but the most rewarding thing for me is seeing business owners overcome their own fears that hold them back. Many of my clients do their work because of the result it has for their clients. When I teach others how to overcome fear, I teach them to “get off self” and focus on others. I think we’re all pretty secure in our desire to do this, though I know at times I find it hard accepting the recognition.
The other thing I read about this level is being in a “state of flow”. I’ve read what Martin Selgiman, Jonathan Haidt, and Chip Conley write about flow and how they interpret it in reference to its founder’s, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, thoughts. I have to say that feeling secure being in flow can be difficult. It can be tricky to achieve and readily lost. It takes the previous self work that Maslow outlines to be able to achieve and maintain flow.
Summary: the need to feel secure in small business
So what can I say in summary of our need as small business owners to feel secure?
We are not necessarily in the enviable position many of our friends and family believe or think they see. The laptop lifestyle is not overly secure. That said, there are ways that we can sure it up:
- Clear processes and procedures
- Clear boundaries
- Prioritising our own pay and cash reserve
- Continue marketing in the busy periods to ensure consistent leads
- Have the right circle around you, listen and lean on them
- Learn to be ok with you and do the work needed to get you there (it stops comparisonitis too)
- Follow your passion to a greater purpose and get into the groove/flow.
Please know that I am here for you and that I do offer one off sessions to help you find security, you, and flow.