Understanding Enterprise

Entrepreneurship and Small Business, fourth edition

by Simon Bridge and Ken O'Neill

Case study: chapter 10

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Enterprises have been described as goal realisation devices. Consider the following individual and the organisations that he has established and consider how his actions are motivated by unmet needs. Categorise his actions using Barrett's Seven Levels of Consciousness and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Having been unemployed for over a year, Danny was beginning to fret. Although when he initially moved back home things had been going well, there was now friction between himself and his parents. His father had constantly worried about money when he and his siblings had been growing up and was quick to point out that he and Danny's mother could not afford to take care of themselves and a grown man at the same time. After one particularly ugly argument Danny was asked to leave and was taken in by a friend who said he could sleep on the sofa until his fiancé returned from travelling the following month.

Low on funds and living off cereal in order to save money, things had become desperate. All his possessions were in the back of his van and with still no success in any of his job applications, he began to look at other means of making money. A quick inventory of all the resources that he had initially led him to believe that the short-term solution was to sell his van although, before doing so, he agreed to help his uncle move his furniture into his new apartment. Knowing how hard things were for his nephew, Danny's uncle paid him £100 for the day's work and told him that he would spread the word to his friends that Danny could provide a removal service.

Danny went from desperation to excitement in one afternoon and stayed up all of that night preparing business cards and posters in his friend's apartment. The next day he began to actively look for business and was fortunate to come across a landscaper whose trailer had a broken axle. He agreed to pay £300 for a week's work if Danny would load up his van with the hedge trimmings and cut grass, and dispose of it in the recycling centre. Now that he was actually making money and could see the viability of his potential business he made an appointment with his local enterprise agency in order to get advice on how to officially set up his business.

A few months down the line and things are looking very different for our budding entrepreneur. Danny now has his own small apartment and is making a comfortable living with his successful business. After helping a client move across the country he began to think of how he could develop his business. Already employing one person on a part-time basis he began exploring the possibility of transforming the business into a haulage firm initially targeting the local market offering it nation-wide reach and then looking at more lucrative opportunities further afield. Five years later our entrepreneur who was living off cereal and sleeping on his fiends sofa is now running a haulage firm that has five trucks and employs ten staff, with four working in the office full time. Danny would be the first to admit that in his meteoric rise he has had more than his fair share of luck. But nonetheless he now finds himself in charge of a business that makes him feel proud although he is noted for his prudent regard for the pennies as well as the pounds. Danny enjoys sitting in on the interview process for new staff and initiated a scheme whereby the business would pay for staff to gain qualifications depending on their years of service and on the benefits to the business. This proved very popular and most of the employees would agree that it has brought an already close set of colleagues closer.

We now visit Danny 30 years later. Despite being past the age of retirement he is still involved in the business on a day to day basis, although his sons are taking an increasingly active role as he plans his retirement. With hubs in England, France, Spain and Poland, the business is truly a multinational organisation and has allowed its owner to support a number of causes that mean a great deal to him on a personal level. Having spent time in hospital getting cataracts removed, he became aware of how many people, young and old, suffer from this curable affliction as they do not have the funds to seek treatment. As a result, the charity that he established is now in its fifth year and has helped hundreds regain full vision. The local football club that he has supported since he was a boy has a brand new training facility. A community centre where he grew up has new playground equipment and a minibus that drops the children home after dark. All this has been achieved thanks to the business that started all those years ago on the afternoon that he nearly sold his original van.

Consider the extent to which Danny's actions are motivated by unmet needs. Categorise his actions using Barrett's Seven Levels of Consciousness and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Suggested solution


  • It is clear to see how Danny's immediate concerns are with the very base level of both Maslow's and Barrett's models. Shelter, food and water are basic essentials required by each individual in order to live and depending on the individuals psychological make-up, these base needs even when satisfied can go on influencing the behaviour of an individual at an unconscious level.
  • We can see that even when Danny is running his own successful business, he has obviously been significantly affected by his beginnings and although he has no desire or need to spend money to satisfy any of his 'high' needs, the money in the bank remains a comfort to him allowing him to feel safe and secure.


  • The effects of inactivity and in particular economic inactivity in an individual willing to work can be extremely severe. Rejection after rejection from prospective employers can create feelings of self-doubt and leave an individual questioning their self-worth. Moving back into his parent's house and not being able to support himself would have undoubtedly affected Danny's self-esteem.
  • Growing up with a father that worried constantly about money may have led to Danny seeing wealth as a measure of success and as result would interpret his financial struggles as a sign of failure again affecting his self esteem.
  • It can be seen how his motivation has shifted by the stage his business is successful from survival to self esteem. Initially he saw entrepreneurship as a necessity rather than an option and then more than likely found that once he had satisfied his basic needs, he could use the business as a vehicle to increase his self-esteem.


  • No longer having to worry about working, Danny could retire tomorrow if he so chose but again although he has satisfied one need he has now set his sights on a new target and as a result the business is being used to accomplish his new goals such as leaving a legacy for his children.

Finding purpose and a personal meaning

  • Despite the fact that he can walk away into the sunset, Danny finds a great deal of satisfaction in providing employment for so many people. Being able to empathize with those struggling in the unemployment line, it gives him a sense of meaning that money would be unable to. He still sits in on interviews and takes a personal interest in the development of his staff.


  • Although it could be argued that the culture in Danny's organisation is one of closeness and a sense of belonging is encouraged, it would probably not be accurate to say that a desire for a 'sense of belonging' was ever what motivated Danny to engage in entrepreneurial activity.


  • As Danny's circumstances have changed so have his motivations. He has enough wealth to make sure that he has a comfortable lifestyle and can satisfy his basic needs. He has a confidence and self-esteem that are a result of both age and his accomplishments and has found meaning through providing employment and development opportunities for his staff.
  • The money generated by his business has allowed him to reach for the higher self-actualising needs such as engaging in the selfless service of his fellow man. The charities established and donations to causes that are worthy in his eyes have been the goals that at this stage in his life have trumped the satisfaction he would receive by making another X million pounds.