examining need vs. want (in a fun way)

I have had a crazy week filled with business plan writing and office supply shopping.  Woohoo!  To quote Justin Timberlake, I am “Bringing Sexy Back” one office supply at a time.  For me the theme of the week has been Need versus Want. When working on the sales plan for my upcoming braduct, I have been flushing out whether my product is a need or a want.  Then came my trip to Office Depot to buy a file cabinet that I needed, but I also bought a fancy purple stapler and “backngroove” pink file folders (clearly a want).  However, it could be argued that I needed these items.  I did need folders and a stapler.  Not necessarily the stylish ones that I bought, yet on the other hand, I am creating a brand.  A feminine, lingerie-esque brand that possibly needed pink and purple office supplies.  I know — keep telling myself that.

When examining Need versus Want in any aspect of life, business or personal, could it be that we convince ourselves that something is a need when it really is want?  Can an item be both a need and a want at different times? I made a quick slide show of a major part of my life to examine this argument.

Whether you know me well or just a little, you may have guessed that the 3 (yes, I said 3) dogs that share our home are a big part of our lives.  There have been many an argument over whether these doggies are a need or a want.  I will never be able to convince my mom that they are anything more than a want.  When you see the pictures of them lazily sleeping or running around causing trouble, you probably think “want.” BUT, what about the bonds that my boys have formed with the dogs?  Can they have that unconditional bond with anything else?  I would argue no.  How about the picture of my lab dressed as Superman visiting the kids at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh?  That cannot be viewed as a want.  Where does the real answer exist?

The real point being, other than showing off my gorgeous doggies, is that in life or business decisions it is extremely hard to decipher when something is a need or want. This process is even more difficult when we are emotionally involved.  I can convince myself that the dogs are a need, but in reality, they are a wanted luxury that I have turned into a need. The process of deciding need versus want is a difficult one, and it involves being brutally honest with ourselves.

In my life & business planning, I have found the following tips helpful:

  1. Does your product, business, or service meet a basic need?
  2. Do you have to keep convincing yourself how your product or service is a need?
  3. There is no shame in creating a want…..
  4. Have a trusted group of friends or family that you can run your theory by, and make sure that they will be very frank and open with you.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Nicole January 10, 2011, 1:37 PM

    This is a great summary of need vs. want! You’ve hit on one of the huge mistakes start-ups make – confusing wants or “supposed to’s” with absolute requirements to run their business today.

    • Rachel H Blaufeld January 10, 2011, 5:17 PM

      thank you Nicole – need vs want has been a struggle for me. I think that I have come to the correct conclusions though.
      looking forward to a post from you soon! Rachel


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