how-to-create-a-business-model

How To Create A Business Model In Seven Steps

Define the problem you’re going to solve, then define the customers for which the problem will be solved. Next, identify the customer and the problem. After that, define a set of possible solutions. After, define a set of possible monetization strategies for that solution, test, and choose your business model.

A business model design in seven steps

Time needed: 1 day.

How to create a business model in one day and seven simple steps

  1. Define the problem you’re going to solve

    At this stage, you need to start by looking at the problem you’re going to solve. It can be a functional problem, but also an emotional problem depending on the product and business model you’re creating. Limit the choice to up to three key problems your product and service will solve.

    product-market-fit

  2. Define the customers for which the problem will be solved for

    Who are the people that are experiencing that problem? Define a set of three types of customers maximum for the problems you defined in step one. Ideally, each problem will be matched to a customer type. At the same time, the same customer type might experience multiple problems. Or one problem can be experienced by different customer types.

    customer-segments-business-model-canvas

  3. Define the key customer and the key problem

    You need to choose one among the top three customer types identified and one or more of the top three problems identified, where you’ll focus your attention. A business model can evolve in many different ways, and narrowing down the course of action can lead to better execution and experimentation of the business model. Thus, at the end of this step, you’ll have one key customer or alternatively one key problem to focus on.

    value-proposition

  4. Define a set of possible solutions

    List up to ten solutions that the problem can be solved with. From those ten, narrow down the three which can be implemented with ease, without too many financial resources or time resources (this is a one-day business model), and among these three, pick one!

    moonshot-thinking

  5. Define a set of possible monetization strategies for that solution

    For the solution you picked, and the customer type, you’ll have defined a product or service. For that product or service define the maximum of five possible monetization strategies. Keep the two that can be quickly tested.

    revenue-streams-business-model-canvas

  6. Test and choose

    Test the product and its monetization strategy and see which worked.

    business-experimentation

  7. You have your business model

    Based on the key customer, key problem, the solution you provide, and the monetization model defined you have your business model!

    best-business-model

The most valuable asset any organization has is its business model.

Indeed, that is the way all the moving parts of the organization fit together to create a value chain.

The aim of the value chain is value creation for several players in that industry, market, and so on.

The business model is not static, it changes and evolves along with the scale of the organization.

The type of business model you designed for your company will not work if your company scales. You’ll need to rethink and redefine it.

This is even more evident in companies that are trying to innovate.

When those organizations create a new technology or an innovative approach to existing industries, it is critical to understand who are the players involved in that industry and how you’re creating value for them.

In this blog, we covered the business models of many organizations.

For instance, Google’s massive success is strictly connected to its business model.

The company managed to create a balance between several players in the publishing and information industry where each of those players gets back some value (economic and not) from having a relationship with Google.

Where do you start when it comes to creating a business model?

Related: Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know

It’s all about business model design

The primary aim of a business model is to create a sustainable chain, able to unlock value for several players in a market, industry, or niche.

Therefore, this value chain will start from a value proposition, a promise you make to the key players and partners in that market, industry, or niche depending on where you start.

For instance, when PayPal started out it didn’t look to dominate the whole market. It started from a niche.

As Pether Thiel put it in his book, Zero to One:

The most successful companies make the core progression—to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets—a part of their founding narrative.

Indeed, PayPal began by identifying its most valuable partner, what at the time they called “power user.”

That was a choice driven by its business model design.

Therefore, instead of focusing on generically offering a service for everyone, PayPal focused on acquiring and attracting as many power users as possible.

Those power users were mostly on another platform that had already scaled up: eBay.

Thus, PayPal focused all its effort on acquiring those power users from eBay, fast!

Only after PayPal had drafted, tested, and validated a clear value proposition for a small, yet critical group of power users, it could move on to take larger and larger segments of that market.

What is a value proposition?

At its most basic level, a value proposition is a promise you make as an organization to deliver something (either monetary or advantage) to a critical player you have in our industry.

For instance, when Google started it showed right away it was capable of offering 10x of search results, at a faster speed and more relevant to users.

However, had Google kept its search engine primarily focused on providing paid results, it would not have taken off.

Instead, Google focused on offering relevant paid results but also a bunch of organic results.

In short, Google managed to index and rank the web pages from blogs, journals, news sites and any other website that made those pages available to Google for its index.

In exchange for that content, Google offered back visibility as qualified traffic toward those sites.

Indeed, search engines back then (at the end of the 1990s) were not focused on offering quality traffic.

Thus, most of the audience you got back to your site might have been quite relevant to your business.

Google instead, with its dominant search engine allowed publishers, and businesses (small and large) to gain customers.

That sealed an implicit deal “Me (Google) will send you qualified traffic that helps you grow your business if you (publisher, business, or whoever publishes on the web) offer me your content to be indexed.”

We might call that an implicit contract, which is the beginning of a value chain.

In fact, from this sort of contract part of the Google business model has been built. Imagine the scenario where Google was not attractive enough to provide qualified traffic to content producers.

They would have stopped offering their content for free by blocking access to the search engine.

Instead, they allowed Google to index their pages because the visibility they got was too attractive.

A business model is also about how you make money but how you make money isn’t your business model

One of the biggest misconceptions of the business model is to confuse it with the monetization strategy or the revenue model of the company.

While this is an essential piece of the puzzle, it is just one of the components of a successful business model.

In this blog, we’ve discussed at great length how companies make money as a way to start the discussion of a business model.

However, a business model implies the understanding of

operations, customer acquisition and retention, supply chain management, and the cost above and revenue aspects

According to the business model you designed over the years for your organization there will be a piece that plays a more critical role compared to others.

For instance, a vital component of the Coca-Cola business model is its distribution strategy.

For other companies like McDonald’s, the key to its business model success is the heavily franchised restaurants that helped the company scale up all over the world.

Each company will develop a unique model among the many types of business models which is what makes it thick in the long run!

What principles should I follow to create and design a business model?

Developing a deep understanding of your business model implies asking a few critical questions. For instance, some of those questions might be:

  • What value do I offer my potential customers? Or what problem do I solve with my product/service?
  • How do I charge my customers?
  • What does my acquisition cost look like?
  • What channels can I tap into to find my ideal customer?
  • Did I create a predictable revenue stream? If not what can I do to generate that?

Your business model will be based on a few critical assumptions about who your customers are, how your product or service should look like, what are the favorite channels to reach them, and a few others.

Those assumptions will be tested as soon as you start kicking off your operations.

Your main concern should be just that. You need to check those assumptions as quickly as possible. 

Steve Blank has identified 17 principles in his Customer Development Manifesto:

  1. There Are No Facts Inside Your Building, So Get Outside
  2. Pair Customer Development with Agile Development
  3. Failure is an Integral Part of the Search for the Business Model
  4. If You’re Afraid to Fail You’re Destined to Do So
  5. Iterations and Pivots are Driven by Insight
  6. Validate Your Hypotheses with Experiments
  7. Success Begins with Buy-In from Investors and Co-Founders
  8. No Business Plan Survives First Contact with Customers
  9. Not All Startups Are Alike
  10. Startup Metrics are Different from Existing Companies
  11. Agree on Market Type – It Changes Everything
  12. Fast, Fearless Decision-Making, Cycle Time, Speed and Tempo
  13. If it’s not About Passion, You’re Dead the Day You Opened your Doors
  14. Startup Titles and Functions Are Very Different from a Company’s
  15. Preserve Cash While Searching. After It’s Found, Spend
  16. Communicate and Share Learning
  17. Startups Demand Comfort with Chaos and Uncertainty

I suggest you read this manifesto over and over again. This should be the first step!

What tools can you use to design and create your business model?

One of the most used tools to design and create a business model has revolved around the customer development manifesto above.

However, it is essential to keep in mind that this manifesto was the fruit of an era where venture capital had become scarce compared to the dot-com bubble at the end of the 1990s.

Those tools for business modeling have been developed in that context. Thus, those are not a one-size-fits-all toolbox but rather work better in a context where capital is scarce, and you need to test your business model assumptions as quickly as possible. In that context three primary tools are:

Those tools can be used by entrepreneurs in the phases of the business model generation:

  • Map the business model hypotheses.
  • Test these hypotheses with customer feedback.
  • Iterative this process.

The result will be an incremental development of a product that will reach a minimally viable version.

The better the product, based on customer feedback, the larger the audience it will reach.

Lean makes sense when capital is scarce and when you need to keep burn rates low.

Lean was designed to inform the founders’ vision while they operated frugally at speed. It was not built as a focus group for consensus for those without deep convictions.

Is the lean startup still a valuable model?

As Steve Blank has pointed out in an HBR article entitled “Is the Lean Startup Dead?

I realized it was time for a new startup heuristic: the amount of customer discovery and product-market fit you need to find is inversely proportional to the amount and availability of risk capital.

In other words, the more risk capital that is available on the market the least the lean startup model might work.

The reason is, that if you have massive risk capital, you won’t need to test all your assumptions.

Quite the opposite, you’ll need to execute them fast.

Also, one of the primary logic of the lean startup is to burn cash at the slowest rate possible, while evolving (so-called pivoting) your business model.

If money is not an issue, then why go for the lean startup?

Steve Blank went further:

Rather than the“first mover advantage”of the last bubble, today’s theory is that “massive capital infusion owns the entire market.”

Therefore, if you secured a massive injection of money, then your aim might be primarily toward growth, rather than profits.

In that context, the lean startup might not work!

Are capital moats sustainable?

blitzscaling-business-model-innovation-canvas
The Blitzscaling business model canvas is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling, which is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency and focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.

When a company or startup has a substantial capital allocate for growth, that is when this injection can become a short-term competitive advantage.

However, as companies finance growth through artificial injection of capital, those also become extremely risky, because many of the assumptions underlying the business model can’t be tested organically, thus leaving the company’s foundations weak.

An example of this excess of use of capital as a competitive moat has been WeWork, which has proved one of the most disastrous business endeavors of the last decade.

Thus, capital moats and technological moats need to be balanced with careful business model testing and organic validation in the marketplace!

Other business resources:

FourWeekMBA Business Toolbox

Business Engineering

business-engineering-manifesto

Tech Business Model Template

business-model-template
A tech business model is made of four main components: value model (value propositions, missionvision), technological model (R&D management), distribution model (sales and marketing organizational structure), and financial model (revenue modeling, cost structure, profitability and cash generation/management). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build a solid tech business model.

Web3 Business Model Template

vbde-framework
A Blockchain Business Model according to the FourWeekMBA framework is made of four main components: Value Model (Core Philosophy, Core Values and Value Propositions for the key stakeholders), Blockchain Model (Protocol Rules, Network Shape and Applications Layer/Ecosystem), Distribution Model (the key channels amplifying the protocol and its communities), and the Economic Model (the dynamics/incentives through which protocol players make money). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build and analyze a solid Blockchain Business Model.

Asymmetric Business Models

asymmetric-business-models
In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Business Competition

business-competition
In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Technological Modeling

technological-modeling
Technological modeling is a discipline to provide the basis for companies to sustain innovation, thus developing incremental products. While also looking at breakthrough innovative products that can pave the way for long-term success. In a sort of Barbell Strategy, technological modeling suggests having a two-sided approach, on the one hand, to keep sustaining continuous innovation as a core part of the business model. On the other hand, it places bets on future developments that have the potential to break through and take a leap forward.

Transitional Business Models

transitional-business-models
A transitional business model is used by companies to enter a market (usually a niche) to gain initial traction and prove the idea is sound. The transitional business model helps the company secure the needed capital while having a reality check. It helps shape the long-term vision and a scalable business model.

Minimum Viable Audience

minimum-viable-audience
The minimum viable audience (MVA) represents the smallest possible audience that can sustain your business as you get it started from a microniche (the smallest subset of a market). The main aspect of the MVA is to zoom into existing markets to find those people which needs are unmet by existing players.

Business Scaling

business-scaling
Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Market Expansion Theory

market-expansion
The market expansion consists in providing a product or service to a broader portion of an existing market or perhaps expanding that market. Or yet, market expansions can be about creating a whole new market. At each step, as a result, a company scales together with the market covered.

Speed-Reversibility

decision-making-matrix

Asymmetric Betting

asymmetric-bets

Growth Matrix

growth-strategies
In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Revenue Streams Matrix

revenue-streams-model-matrix
In the FourWeekMBA Revenue Streams Matrix, revenue streams are classified according to the kind of interactions the business has with its key customers. The first dimension is the “Frequency” of interaction with the key customer. As the second dimension, there is the “Ownership” of the interaction with the key customer.

Revenue Modeling

revenue-model-patterns
Revenue model patterns are a way for companies to monetize their business models. A revenue model pattern is a crucial building block of a business model because it informs how the company will generate short-term financial resources to invest back into the business. Thus, the way a company makes money will also influence its overall business model.

Pricing Strategies

pricing-strategies
A pricing strategy or model helps companies find the pricing formula in fit with their business models. Thus aligning the customer needs with the product type while trying to enable profitability for the company. A good pricing strategy aligns the customer with the company’s long term financial sustainability to build a solid business model.

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