Never before in the history of humanity have there been a time as this when the whole world seems to be realizing finally, the very intent and purpose for creation – collaboration. The stiff competition that often characterized the industrial age is gradually giving way to this new age where passion thrives and information rules. Businesses are beginning to awaken to the fact that unless there’s something SIGNIFICANTLY unusual about their business, there’s no way they are going to remain relevant. It is increasingly becoming obvious, that the businesses that will thrive in this new age are those who are consistently willing to touch a heart before asking for a hand – being helpful.
No longer will the market tolerate businesses that are out to get before giving, no longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not different and making a difference, no longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not unique and being useful, no longer will the market tolerate businesses that don’t stand for something, no longer will the market tolerate businesses that are not contributing to the success of their customers.
In this new age, the law of exchange which states that; ‘to get, you must first give’ is the standard on which every business that aspires to grow must be built. Every site I visit is now giving away something, mostly an eBook in exchange for my email. Everyone is sharing something, whether it’s a link on Twitter, a video on YouTube or a picture on FaceBook. The whole world seems to be in the business of helping someone. To thrive in this new age, being Helpful must become your new business model. Woven under the very fabric of your business must be a strong desire to help. Your business must be built on the principle of helping someone accomplish a particular goal or objective as a result of coming in contact with the product or service your business offers.
What is a Business Model?
Looking at this concept, two words come into play, business and model. For better understanding, I am going to separate them and look at each individually, ok?
The Meaning of Business
A business is a social institution that provides a product or service to a particular group of people known as customers or clients for a particular agreed fee or price.
The first word in the definition that I will like to talk about is social institution. A business at its core is purely built on social interaction. Meaning, everything in the world of business revolves around people. Your employees are people, so are your customers and your suppliers and bankers and lawyers and partners or investors. There’s no way you can do business outside of people. So what does this suggest to you? It clearly means that to succeed in business, you cannot avoid dealing with people and when people are involved, the golden rule must apply; “do unto others how you would have them do unto you.” Underlying the golden rule is the law of exchange [giving before getting] at work.
Going back to the definition, you would see the law of exchange at play again. How do I mean? You would notice that the definition of business clearly states that a business must first provide [give] products or services to a particular group of people who would then pay an agreed fee or price [get]. In other words, you are not permitted to get until you give. Therefore, business is a discipline that involves dealing with people through the provision of goods and services that attract payment in return.
The meaning of a Model
A model by itself is the interpretation, representation or simulation of a theory in real life. It’s how we mentally try to imagine or portray what a theory, principle, concept or idea will look like in practice.
According to Dr. Phil Walker,
“Models are used to help us understand how things might work in real life. They are the mental representation of an outward reality. A good working model must be exact enough to give us answers to how things will work yet flexible enough to allow for adjustments and changes.”
In case all of the grammar in the definition above didn’t sink, here’s one that might sink. I’m sure you are very familiar with models, they come in different categories; we have beauty models, fashion models and role models. Picture a fashion model for example, what do they do? They basically portray how a particular design of an apparel or clothing will look like when worn in real life. They are in other words, the representation of what the cloth will look like on your body. Merely looking at them gives you a clue of how it would look on you even though you haven’t actually worn the cloth or apparel yourself. A model works basically in the same manner.
Looking at another example, role models, we all know what they are meant for. They are the physical representations of what we would like our life to look like when it is finally done. They give us a clue that when we lead our life in a particular way just as that of our role model, eventually we’ll be just like them. The same again, is how models in business work. They give us a mental clue, representation or interpretation of what a concept, idea, principle, thought, philosophy etc. will look like in reality.
The definition of a Business Model
In the words of Seth Godin, an international bestselling author of 12 business books, entrepreneur and agent of change;
“This classic MBA phrase describes how you set up a business so you can get money out of it. A business model is a machine, a method, a plan for extracting money from a system. Without a business model, a company can get publicity, hire employees and spend money, but it won’t make a profit.”
Below are some sample business models extracted from Seth Godin’s groundbreaking manifesto “the bootstrapper’s bible”. See if you can guess which company each comes from:
1. HIRE THE WORLD’S BEST ATHLETES AS SPOKESPEOPLE.Buy an enormous amount of advertising. Use the advertising to get every sporting goods store to carry your products. Make your product overseas for a very little money. Charge very high prices.
2. FIND LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT CARE ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES.Offer them a free water cooler if they allow you refill it. Earn money by making deliveries on a regular basis.
3. CREATE THE OPERATING SYSTEM that runs every personal computer in the world. Then use the power you gain from knowing that system, which controls the computers, to create software, web sites, online services, even travel agencies.
These are the business models of NIKE, POLANDSPRING, and MICROSOFT.
Permit me to add a fourth one; I’m sure you would love this one.
4. CREATE A SOCIAL UTILITY that will allow people to socialize by connecting and sharing things with family and friends online for FREE, then make room for businesses, celebrities and organizations to also do the same, but charge them a token for this in form of advertisement to those who use the platform for free.
You must have probably guessed right, Facebooks business model.
Therefore, a business model is the way a company has decided to setup and portray itself in such a way that it is able to attract money [get] by providing specific products or services [give]. It basically serves as a framework, blueprint, or prototype that attempts to describe or capture the underlying, thought, philosophy, idea, concept, principle, or mindset that will drive or guide the operations of a business in real life in a way that will allow it to be profitable. It’s an ideal representation of what the operations of a business would look like in reality woven around a particular mentality or philosophy. That is, it gives a clue about how your business should be done in the real world. A business model is not the same as a business plan. A business plan is a strategic course of action. Meaning, it basically outlines several action steps a business should take as regarding different aspects of its operation.
A business model on the other hand is not a list of action steps, it is not as tangible or concrete as a plan, but rather, it’s a conceptual or mental projection of your business when it is ready. It doesn’t present action steps as a business plan does; it presents the actual picture of the business when the action steps have been executed for maximum results. The business model is what is underneath the business plan. Meaning, a plan is built on a model. So without a model, a plan cannot be created. A model is what guides the creation of a plan. It is the business model that gives a business plan its inherent meaning.
Creating A Plan Built On The Desire To HELP
The desire to help must underlie everything your business represents and does. You can have the best business plan in the world, if it is not built around a strong ideology or philosophy of helping others [those you’ve targeted to be your customers], then your plan is as good as useless. Your business must be built on and around the desire to sincerely provide help in the form of product or services to those it serves. How you create, communicate and deliver this help is totally up to you, but the key thing here is to understand that help is the new business model. That is, helping people is the new way of looking at and doing business, unless, you don’t want to succeed. Therefore, only those companies who are in the business of providing help will succeed in this new age.
So what then is the meaning of HELP?
Helpin the context of business and in life, means the same thing. A business provides help so do other non-profit making organizations concerned about certain aspects of life too. While a business provides help for a FEE, non-profit organizations provides help for FREE. Whichever way you choose to look at it, they are both in the service of providing help.
Helpmeans Value. Let me be more precise; help is adding Value. Value is anything that is capable of providing satisfaction or gratification in one way or another to an individual or group of individuals. Value is something that is worth something to somebody. Value is anything that can be measured as a unit of satisfaction or gratification irrespective of personal preferences. If it can be quantified, then it has value.
How to make HELP Your New Business Model
1. Definition of HELP: The first step to making help your new business model is to sit down and define what you want to call help in your business. Every business cannot provide the same kind of help, so it’s highly important you define your own kind of help because this is what separates your business from all others who are in similar industries or providing similar products or services. So what kind of help do you want your business to provide? In other words, what kind of value do you want your business to be adding to its target customers? Your first task as an entrepreneur is to identify and define the value [help] your business is offering or bringing to the world.
2. Creation of HELP: the second step in making help your new business model after identifying the kind of help [value] your business wants to offer the world is to ask yourself; how do we create this help? That you have identified your company’s definition of help [value] doesn’t mean your company currently possesses or provides that help. After all, you cannot possibly give what you do not have. So the next step is to create your own version of help [value] which you’ve decided to offer the world in exchange for money.
3. Communication of HELP: no one will ever know that your business has identified and created something of value to the world if it never comes out to proclaim such a thing exists. There are a million and one people in the world who are in need of the kind of help [value] your business has identified and created, it is the responsibility of your business to make the existence of such help known to the world. This is the place of communication. You have to announce the existence of your company’s rare kind of help [value] so that those in need of it can come for it while giving you money in exchange for the help your business provided.
4. Delivery of HELP: the final step in making help your new business model is the actual delivery of the help you have identified, created and communicated to the world that your business offers. In delivering the help [value] you want to be sure that it is exactly as you have communicated. You certainly don’t want to over promise and under-deliver. So make sure you deliver on the same quality and quantity of help [value] you have previously communicated. Doing this makes your business indispensable in the eyes of the world or those you serve.