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Deconstruct and Innovate Your Business Model

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Business Model Innovation (30-slide PowerPoint presentation). Innovative business models can reshape industries and drive tremendous growth. However, many organization find business model innovation difficult. The framework outlined in this presentation is based on the HBR article "Reinventing Your Business Model," authored by Clayton Christensen, [read more]

Also, if you are interested in becoming an expert on Innovation Management, take a look at Flevy's Innovation Management Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

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The business model is at the core of any organization’s Corporate Strategy.  It defines how the company creates, delivers, and captures value.

Most tech startups fail because they lack a viable business model.  Even for enterprises with established business models, they often need to revisit and innovate on their business models.

To understand the essence of a successful business model, first, let’s look at its 4 core components:

Customer Value Proposition

A successful company helps its customers get a “job” done.  Doing the “job”—this is the “value” the business is delivering for its customer.  For instance, Google helps customers with the job of finding information online.  McDonalds helps customers with the job of feeding a greasy appetite quickly and cheaply.  Flevy helps customers with the job of finding business documents they need for work.

High customer value proposition is correlated with

  • Importance of the job to the customer;
  • Low customer satisfaction with alternative options in the market; and
  • Higher quality (or lower price) of your product relative to alternative options.

Profit Formula

It’s great to offer customers great value, but, as a business, the economics still need to work in your favor.  We need to make money!  This is the profit formula.

The profit formula is the blueprint that defines how the company creates value for itself, while providing value for the customer.  The profit formula consists of numerous economic components, including:

  • Revenue model
  • Cost structure
  • Margin model
  • Asset turnover and velocity

Many tech startups fail because their “business models” lack this critical component: the profit formula.  They aim to amass an impressive user base, but don’t have a practical way of making a profit from its users.

Key Resources and Key Processes

A company must have access to the key resources and processes necessary to deliver its value proposition and profit formula.  In other words, the key resources and processes describe how value will be created for both the customers and the company, itself.  For instance, for a consulting firm, the key resources are its people and its key processes are people-related (e.g. training, recruiting programs).

Key resources are assets, such as people, technology, products, facilities, equipment, channels, and brand required to deliver the value proposition to the targeted customers.  It must also have the key processes to properly leverage these resources.  Key processes of are usually characterized by operational and managerial processes that allow them to deliver value in a way that is repeatable and scalable.  Processes can take the form policies, metrics, and culture, as well.

As alluded to, even with a concrete business model, there may come a time to modify and innovate it.  So, the question is…

What circumstances require business model innovation?

There are five circumstances that often require business model innovation.  They can be categorized into Opportunities and Needs.

Opportunity #1: Disruptive Innovation

The opportunity to address, through disruptive innovation, the needs of large groups of potential customers who are shut out of the market entirely because existing solutions are too expensive or complicated for them.

Opportunity #2: New Technology

The opportunity to capitalize on a new technology by wrapping a new business around it or the opportunity to leverage a tested technology by introducing it to a new market.

Opportunity #3: Focus on Unmet Need

The opportunity to bring a focus on a customer need that currently is unmet.  This is common in industries where companies focus on products or customers segments, which lead them to refine existing products more and more.

Need #1: Low-end Disruptors

The need to fend off low-end disrupters.  I.e., these are new entrants that are low cost, niche players.

Need #2: Shifting Competitive Landscape

The need to respond to a shifting basis of competition.  It’s simply inevitable that what defines an acceptable solution in a market now will change with time, leading core market segments to commoditize.

Oftentimes, barriers exist that prevent a shift in business model.  A barrier is not necessarily overt political opposition to a shift in way business has been done.  Rather, with time, the fundamental understanding of the core business model often fades into institutional memory.  These are considered institutional barriers and may be financial, operational, or strategic in nature.

To combat institutional barriers to business model innovation, many companies decide to launch a separate brand or business to adopt the new business model.  It’s best for the new entity to be based in a completely separate office.  This way, it won’t be mired down by any of the parent organization’s habits.

Changing an organization’s business model is a BIG change.  We need to be patient—patient for profit.  Successful companies usually revise their business models four or more times on the road to profitability.

To learn more about Business Model Innovation, check out this business framework published by PPT Lab.  You can view more of PPT Lab’s business frameworks here.

27-slide PowerPoint presentation
As core markets become saturated with new entrants and products, we find it more and more difficult to grow the core. We find traditional approaches that have successfully driven growth historically are also reaching points of diminishing returns. Business Model Innovation (BMI) is a powerful, [read more]

Want to Achieve Excellence in Innovation Management?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Innovation Management. Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. Click here for full details.

To be competitive and sustain growth, we need to constantly develop new products, services, processes, technologies, and business models. In other words, we need to constantly innovate.

Ironically, the more we grow, the harder it becomes to innovate. Large organizations tend to be far better executors than they are innovators. To effectively manage the Innovation process, we need to master both the art and science of Innovation. Only then can we leverage Innovation as a Competitive Advantage, instead of viewing Innovation as a potential disruptive threat.

Learn about our Innovation Management Best Practice Frameworks here.

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One of many good reasons for you to focus on your business model is that companies focusing on Business Model Innovation outperform their industry peers in terms of operating margin and total shareholder return. In this in depth article Marc Sniukas provides you with a framework to describe your [read more]

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240-slide PowerPoint presentation

About David Tang

David Tang is an entrepreneur and management consultant. His current focus is Flevy, the marketplace for business best practices (e.g. frameworks & methodologies, presentation templates, financial models). Prior to Flevy, David worked as a management consultant for 8 years. His consulting experience spans corporate strategy, marketing, operations, change management, and IT; both domestic and international (EMEA + APAC). Industries served include Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Consumer Products/Retail, High-Tech, Life Sciences, and Business Services. You can connect with David here on LinkedIn.

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