How To Design Winning Business Model

A business model is a holistic approach, to understand how businesses work, and also to building a viable, and scalable business, from scratch. Business modeling, indeed, is about experimenting with the underlying assumptions around a business to make it viable, quickly, thus reducing the chances of failure.

Step 1: Define the problem to solve

One of the most common mistakes, when building a business model from scratch, is to fall into the trap of looking for possible solutions, without guessing a problem.

Indeed, the first step is about finding a problem, worth solving.

customer-problem quadrant
A great simple tool, for guessing the problem, is Ash Maurya’s Leaner Canvas.

Once you find a problem, the next step is about guessing if there is a minimum viable audience around that problem.

Step 2: Find a minimum viable audience

Once you figured out what problem to solve.

The next question is about making sure there is an audience for that problem. It doesn’t have to be a big audience, quite the opposite.

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 whose needs are unmet by existing players.

Initially, you want to keep it very small, why?

First, it’s easier to test, and get feedback. Second, you get less competition. Third, you are able to build a personal relationship, which helps create positive feedback loops in the product.

Once you got a minimum viable audience, it’s time to test whether they are really interested.

Step 3: Sell first, then build

When building something from scratch, it’s easy to fall into the trap of asking around people what they think.

For the sake of building a business, asking around, is not a good idea.

You need to sell. Indeed, the sale of your product carries way more information about the customer’s preferences, than anything else.

This is the basic premise of revealed preferences.

You want to cut through the noise, and only look for a signal. If you’re able to pre-sell a product, then you know, customers want it.

Step 4: Build, launch and iterate fast

Once you got to pre-sell the product, you can start building it.

The first version needs to be extremely simple. As the main aim is to keep testing the market, rather than getting bogged down in technical details.

There is always time to make a product more sophisticated and complex.

Yet, at this stage, your business advantage comes from understanding your market, fast.

Thus, you want to build a first version, which is good enough, for your audience to be happy with that and start giving you valuable feedback.

Step 5: Refine, and test your assumptions, keep tweaking

The main point of building a viable business model is about testing your assumptions fast.

To remove them, and remove the limiting beliefs about your business model.

In many cases, you’ll be surprised about the things that might work and those that don’t.

Indeed, you’ll notice that ideas that seemed ingenious and destined to work, won’t. And those you might have thought wouldn’t have worked will.

Also, you’ll learn the difference between fake feedback (compliments, likes) vs. real feedback (sales, engagement, community).

This is at the core of business model experimentation.

business-experimentation
Business experiments help entrepreneurs test their hypotheses. Rather than define the problem by making too many hypotheses, a digital entrepreneur can formulate a few assumptions, design experiments, and check them against the actions of potential customers. Once measured, the impact, the entrepreneur, will be closer to defining the problem.

Key takeaways

Read Next: Business Model, Minimum Viable Audience, Lean Startup.

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