We hear a lot about Business Models these days. Building businesses has become a spectator sport. As it is required for a proper sport, everyone in the audience has an opinion.
Much of it is seductively simple. “Hey what’s your business model?” “His business model is E-commerce.” “They are the Facebook of Industry X”. “Have you already heard about the next Google?”.
The term “business model” has become a kind of silver bullet to all of our challenges. Some of it comes with three-step methodologies, packaged into easy-to-digest block diagrams with repeating taglines. And sometimes we even come across “movements” that we can join.
But if it’s really that simple, why do we need that much advice? Amazon for example lists 40.000 results for the term “business model”. Then there are another 10.000 results for ‘design thinking’.
So what’s the problem? The problem is, we can’t boil a complex business down into one word or a checklist. Neither is a great idea or definition sufficient to build a profitable and sustainable business.
Each business is unique and each business has different drivers of success. If we don’t understand these drivers, we will end up comparing apples with oranges. To have an impact in reality, any great idea needs to work within the constraints of the specific environment the business operates in.
This is because essentially, businesses are made up of constraints. Those constraints are for example customers needs, our available resources, our suppliers, competitors or available technologies. The task of the entrepreneur is to find solutions to problems within these constraints.
Let’s say we come across an article that tells us what made Apple successful. What this article really is telling us is what made Apple successful under those particular circumstances. To understand whether there are any lessons to be learned for our business, we first need to be sure to understand what our business is about, and what constraints we operate in.
This is why here we take a step back to dissect what makes businesses successful. We explore the various building blocks, and we highlight the ones are have the biggest impact for a particular business. And of course we show how they change.
We ask, “what are the real drivers of the performance for a business?“
In other words we unmodel the business.