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Understanding Your Business Model – It’s Not the Same as Understanding What You Offer

By on April 21, 2015

Recently I’ve noticed that a surprisingly simple concept trips up a lot of new entrepreneurs as they begin the planning process for their new business: the difference between what your business offers and what your business model is. It’s so simple this will be a very short post, but I see lots of people struggle with this distinction, so I’m going to try to clarify it for everyone so that none of my lovely followers get into trouble.

What you offer is simply what product or service you provide and the benefits of those products or services, and there may be many of them. Your business model, however, is much more than that. It is the overall framework of your business – what you offer, but also specifically how you generate revenue and keep that revenue above your costs for delivering your offerings.

The reason this issue can get tricky is that, for many businesses, there isn’t a lot of a difference between what they offer and what their business model is and the two often get conflated in conversation. Then that lack of distinction gets carried over into similar conversations about different businesses, however, and those other companies may have business models that are not just what the offering is and now the lack of distinction is a big issue because the conversation’s gone off track.

Let’s flesh this out with some examples:

Company One is a clothing retailer. The company buys clothes from suppliers and sells those clothes to consumers. What the company offers is clothing and its business model is to sell clothing to consumers for a profit. Nothing complicated there: there isn’t a big leap to get from the offering to the business model.

Company Two, however, isn’t as straight-forward. Company Two is a website that provides home improvement information and tutorials to the public through a blog and DIY instructional videos. What the company offers to consumers is this information, but that’s not how it makes money. It also offers advertising opportunities to companies that would want access to its readers and that advertising is its revenue source. So, in this case, there isn’t as straight a line between what the company’s offerings are and its business model. Its primary offering is home improvement information but its business model is to sell advertising to companies and show those ads to its readers.

You can’t build a successful business if you don’t understand your business model so it’s important that you understand the difference between what you offer and what your business model is. If you need additional help, check out my book or take my Business Builder Workshop and you’ll get access to some worksheets and exercises that will walk you through exactly how to determine what your offerings and business model are.


What Travel Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

By on April 14, 2015

As many of you know, I have spent the past 2 years as en entrepreneurial nomad moving to a different country every couple of months and exploring the entrepreneurial ecosystems in each. I’ve interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs, investors, and incubator


The Startup Pitch Advice, “Tell a Story,” Doesn’t Mean Tell Your Story

By on April 7, 2015

If you follow the general rules of giving good presentations, especially giving a good pitch presentation to an investor, you’ll see the idea of telling a story repeated over and over. Unfortunately, I think a lot of entrepreneurs misunderstand this


The Truth About Lawsuits for Entrepreneurs

By on March 31, 2015

Before I jump in to this week’s post I want to apologize in advance for the fact that I am going to be a bit of a negative Nancy this week. Why’s that? Because we’re going to talk about the real


The Difference Between a Cheap Entrepreneur and a Frugal Entrepreneur

By on March 24, 2015

Today we’re going to talk about the difference between being cheap and being frugal as an entrepreneur and how it can affect your business’ success. I often refer to myself as the cheapest person alive. I’m not big into spending


The Difference Between a Great Idea and a Great Business

By on March 17, 2015

Clearly, the first step to becoming a real entrepreneur instead of an aspiring entrepreneur is to come up with a great business idea, but that phrase can be a little deceptive. There is a difference between a great idea and


Are You Addressing Your Business’ Problems or Just Its Symptoms?

By on March 9, 2015

As any entrepreneur knows, there are a never-ending number of issues that will arise as you run your business and, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to make sure that you’re able to keep all of


How Should Startup Founders Split Equity?

By on March 3, 2015

As you put together your team for building your business, it can be a bit of an awkward conversation to sit down and start doling out ownership of a company that doesn’t exist yet, especially if you have personal relationships


The Tools I Use to Run My Business, Take 2

By on February 24, 2015

A lot of people ask me about the tools I use to help me run my business and I have done a couple of posts on this before. Of course, as time passes I find new tools that I love


Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business

By on February 17, 2015

My cousin recently had a new baby – the cutest little munchkin ever, I might add – so her bookshelf was filled with books of baby names to help her choose. Your child is going to carry the name you