Business modelling – it’s a process typically used by companies to create and develop new business models. On its own, it can be quite useful; but in today’s open and connected world we can take it to the next level. That’s why in this blog post we are going to look at business modelling with a twist and show how to integrate the social component into the modelling mix.

Since essentially our inception, we have been writing about business models. It has been an exploration that coincided almost directly with the launch of the Business Model Generation (BMG) book by Alexander Osterwalder – we started our blog in early 2010, the book came out in mid 2010.

Our earliest posts looked at what a business model actually is, as despite having graduated from business school, we didn’t (embarrassingly) truly know what a business model was.

+ Business Model – What Is It?

After learning the basics, we started using the canvas to analyze business models and help develop ideas. The beauty, it seemed, was in having some basic structure to develop an idea and to put the focus on creating a viable model that fits onto one page rather than a fluffy plan that takes thirty (not that you don’t need a plan).

Then we started openly dissecting innovative and popular business models in what has now become our most popular set of blog posts, Business Model Breakdown.

+ Business Model Breakdown

While we don’t fully subscribe to the theories that the business plan is dead or put the canvas on a holy grail, the whole ‘business model generation’ concept is certainly a challenge to the concepts preached by the old boys of the business world’s most prestigious institutions. The same institutions who failed to foresee the financial crisis in 2008 and who, for the most part, have continued to teach the business-as-usual ideals in its wake.

The whole BMG book and canvas came like a bit of a spring rain in the arid deserts of business literature, both in terms of content and physical design. From our perspective, it has helped to bring an entirely new focus to the planning process.

And that’s why, in the age of the social internet, there is a great opportunity to use newly created tools like the business model canvas and collaborate across the networks. Because the secret to getting a business off the ground has nothing to do with where you graduated from or how many years you occupied the C-suite, and everything to do with being the right person in the moment to push an idea into the market. The key is to ensure that the idea has a sustainable business model behind it so that it doesn’t just become a hobby; and that’s where the business model canvas comes into play.

So we are going to talk about one way to do it.

Assuming that you have an idea, you are analyzing a new opportunity in the market for your company, or any combination of the two:

Download the initial 72-page preview of the business model canvas and / or read about the nine key components of the canvas on our blog:

+ Key Components of a Business Model

Print out a copy of the business model canvas by downloading the PDF below:

+ Business Model Canvas (PDF)

Now apply what you have learned about the key components of the business model canvas to your idea / business. You should either go to the store and buy poster board and Post-IT notes to make a big copy of the canvas, or print off a bunch of copies of the PDF; this way you will be able to experiment.

This is not an activity that you should be timing yourself on. Experiment with different ideas for revenue streams, partners, channels to connect with customers, etc. And get colourful in the process!

After you are confident that you have developed a model that you can share with other people, then it’s time to think about the 2.0 part of business modeling. Download a copy of the Powerpoint (PPT) business model canvas:

+ Business Model Canvas (PPT)

Fill out the PPT with the model you developed at home. After you have filled in the model, save it locally and also load it into Google Drive. Now you have three ways to share the canvas:

  • you can share the physical canvas with people around you in your home/community/office;
  • you can share the PPT model by email, as Powerpoint is practically ubiquitous and can even be read using Apple Keynote;
  • you can use the Google Drive version to collaborate live with your Gmail / Google+ contacts.

With a canvas in hand / online, you can then start to share it with people who you think can help you move it forward. It’s not so much about finding people who fall in love with the idea at first sight, but rather finding those with domain experience / market intelligence / a good head on their shoulders to give you critical feedback. By using different channels and soliciting feedback from more than just the people who immediately surround you, you can incorporate diverse opinions into the development of your canvas and develop real confidence that you are on a good path moving forward.

Download the business model canvas. Learn the concepts. Incorporate your idea. Get feedback.

It’s a simple and social to way to begin.

There is also an iPad app for canvas creation (Business Model Toolbox), and an online community dedicated to developing business models (Business Model Hub), for those who are interested.

And voila! That’s our way to do business modelling 2.0.


+ DIGITAL: InterC Strategy
+ Time For BMi


PLAN – the Business Model

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