ReThink and ReDesign Your Business Model

  2011.1.3 Business Model Bookv2

Now that you've established your 2011 goals you may be having some doubts about how you will go about achieving them. This may be a good time to consider rethinking how well your business model is working to accomplish your small business objectives.

In a recent post I referenced a prediction from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about how every industry (and by default every company) will have to redesign around social within the next five years. I don't doubt this for a minute.  In fact, I am confident this will be necessary within 2-3 years tops – if not right now.

I've definitely lost some sleep over how to stay relevant with my customers this year. Over the next couple of months I'm speaking at several events where the format is completely different from what most of us have experienced even a year ago. Yep, change is here now.

These are exciting times in the meetings and events industry.  Speakers and trainers are being challenged to deliver fresh and relevant content, and to do so with more interaction and engagement. It's a trend that favors those of us that aren't stuck in the past.  And that's why my business model is evolving into one that will allow me to dive deeper with my clients and audiences to deliver more value.

Fortunately, I recalled Chris Brogan mentioning a book a few weeks ago that is helping me immensely with this, while also making the process enjoyable too: 

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

There is a lot to this handbook, as there should be. It was co-created by over 470 practitioners from 45 countries.  The basis of the process for reexamining your business model is a template (called a canvas) that allows you to bring together and examine the the vital ingredients of your business model:

CS – Customer Segments
VP – Value Propositions
CH- Channels
CR – Customer Relationships
R$ – Revenue Streams
KR – Key Resources
KA – Key Activities 
KP – Key Partnerships
C$ – Cost Structure 

This starting point allows you understand the flow of these essential components – how one things does or should lead to another, and where the gaps or opportunities lie.  

2010.1.3 business-model-generationBusiness Model Canvas – Click to Enlarge

It's recommended that you use sticky notes to start laying out the key elements.  I used blue for what is in place now in my current model – with purple indicating gaps and yellow opportunities.  Already I've noticed one pattern – the gaps and opportunities are often associated together. 

You won't be able to read much of this, but here's a look at my canvas to give you a visual of how this works.

2011.1.3 Jeff's Canvasv2

I'm sure you can at least read one word in the center of my canvas – visuals.  Just going through this exercise has sharpened my awareness of the fact that we all understand everythiing better when we have a visual.  This is where social media can be especially helpful.  

Make a commitment this year to use more diagrams, photos, and videos. You don't have to be a master illustrator or photographer.  Even a fuzzy picture like the one above tells a story.  I took it with my iPhone in low light, but Picnik did a nice job of brightening it up.

If you have borrowed your business model from others in your industry, this book is a must read.  It quickly gets you up to speed working with the canvas.  Then there are dozens of real-world models from around the world – practical examples of how businesses today are innovating and adapting for the new opportunities that change inevitably brings. 

There is so much more to this book that you'll need to discover on your own, such as other visual tools and questions that will really help you to rethink and redesign your small business operations for the better.

So, do yourself a favor and give this one a look.  I started with a copy from the local library, but the two weeks they give me is not nearly enough time to put everything into practice.  Business Model Generation lives up to its promise as a practical handbook – one that will help take your business to the next level.  

Feel free to share this with your friends by clicking on the Facebook Like button below, leave a comment, or considering subscribing to the feed. 

Until tomorrow,  Jeff 

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  1. I’ve been using this book since August 2009 (sad to hear my secret’s out ;). I’ve used it so much the binding cover actually fell off. I will also mention that the writer Alexander Osterwalder is extremely accessible. I emailed him a few months ago to ask him some questions for a workshop I was facilitating and he offered a Skype call.

    What this book is really effective at doing is laying out a simple, VISUAL map to tell a Business Model story. Most plans are so verbose and convoluted that no one can understand them. No understand = no follow.

    Anyways, enjoy your read!


  2. Lara – You were evidently an early adopter with this. My book said published this summer, but I dug deeper (and was finally able to access their website today) to discover the interesting story on the release of this book using non-traditional methods.

    So, thanks for sharing this. Also, I enjoyed your article today on Quora over at #engage365.

    Please keep in touch as I’d like to learn more about your baby – #eventprofs.


  3. Thanks for the resource and example Jeff!! I leave your blog always realizing how much there is for me to wrap my head around!

  4. Great article! It’s very informative, straight to the point and well-organized. Thanks for your insights, for inspiring and for posting. Kudos!

  5. Thanks Jen – as always. I really appreciate your feedback and comments. 🙂


  6. Outsourcing services

    I love to hear that! Organization and inspiring are a nice combination. Glad you liked.


  7. Jeff- Thanks for the great post. I enjoyed your point especially about making a commitment to use more diagrams/visuals to get the model out of your head. Just completed an exercise doing that and hope to make it a habit going forward this year

  8. John – Excellent – me too! Especially in this media rich environment we are being conditioned to respond more readily to visuals. It’s a great practice for all of your work. Before speaking I always visualize a smiling and enthusiastic audience.

    Why not? It only takes a few minutes and it can’t hurt. 🙂


  9. Nice post, it’s a good information that we can learn to. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Your welcome. Have a great weekend. 🙂



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