How to Turn your Business Idea into a Business Model with Ease
Feature image: Business Model Canvas: nine business model building blocks, Osterwalder, Pigneur & al. 2010, Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 1.0
Like many entrepreneurs, I was thrust into a mindset of making lemonade out of lemons due to a series of life hardships and experiences. I had suffocating debts that were affecting my credit score and making it impossible to secure loans or land a traditional 9-5 job. With no financial resources available to me, and bills to pay, I was forced to think outside the box. I started freelancing on jobs that I was actually good at and enjoyed doing. With time, I gained some loyal clients and expanded my skill set. I also took on partners, roped in collaborators, and networked with advisors. I’m now excited to be on the verge of turning my solopreneur business into a full-service communications firm.
For any startup, getting clarity on your business can be a difficult task. Even though all businesses need better planning in their startup, it sometimes takes more than one version of the idea before the business becomes a success.
When faced with the overwhelm of creating a new business from scratch, or when planning our next big moves, it helps to have a system for organizing our thoughts to make the process easier. Having a system also ensures that everyone involved is using a common language for understanding the business. Having a visual way of organizing our business model also assists in making quick and efficient changes to the plan – reworking it until we find our most efficient and sustainable model.
Enter the Business Model Canvas: a free system with a creative commons license proposed and developed by Alexander Osterwalder in the late 2000s alongside hundreds of other collaborators. It’s a new way of modeling businesses that is now widely used and taught in institutions around the world. This system simplifies the business model, allowing business founders and startups to not only view all the moving pieces of their business at once, but also easily explain and present their plan to others.
When I first sat down with my own blank “canvas” I was intimidated and didn’t know where to start. Even though I had technically been in business for over two years, compartmentalizing and conceptualizing my business to better understand what I was, and am, doing was a daunting task.
I started with what I knew best – the activities I do all day for my clients. As a content marketer and copywriter the majority of my time is actually, ironically, not spent writing. To create powerful content I spend the majority of my time communicating with clients, understanding and clarifying their needs, researching, brainstorming, outlining, and planning our approach. The actual content creation, putting pen to paper so to speak, takes up only about 10% of my time.
Once I was able to narrow down what it is I actually do for my clients, then it was easier for me to work backwards to understand who I was doing it for, what types of services I was offering, and how I was delivering them. The canvas plan even forced me to list and analyze all the resources I was utilizing, the partners I collaborate with, and the channels I was using to reach my clients – all in an easy to understand visual format.
As an entrepreneur, working with my canvas has also been especially helpful in outlining the roles and responsibilities of everyone I work with, from my boutique accountant to my graphic designers and from my web developers, to admin. assistants. I was able to clarify how they support my business and help shoulder the jobs that need to get done each day. Learning about this open-source business model canvas was a breakthrough for me, and undoubtedly a resource I will be using for many years to come – well, at least until someone invents an even better system.