A step-by-step guide to creating a business model (2024)

Crafting a thriving business model that not only generates substantial income but also navigates through a market with minimal competition can often feel like discovering a hidden treasure at the end of a rainbow. The exciting reality, however, is that this is not an elusive fantasy but an achievable goal.


Crafting a thriving business model that not only generates substantial income but also navigates through a market with minimal competition can often feel like discovering a hidden treasure at the end of a rainbow. The exciting reality, however, is that this is not an elusive fantasy but an achievable goal.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through each step, providing you with the tools to leverage the Business Model Canvas. By following this systematic process, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of how to structure your ideas, providing a crystal-clear roadmap for your business to attain remarkable success.

Before delving into the intricacies, let’s establish some foundational knowledge:

Understanding business models

What is a business model?

At the heart of every successful business lies a well-defined business model. A business model is the blueprint that outlines how value is created, delivered, and captured. It’s the strategic framework that orchestrates how a company operates, generates revenue, and ensures its sustainable presence in the market.

Why is it important to develop a business model?

Creating a business model is a crucial step in the strategic planning process, and individuals invest time in this endeavour for several compelling reasons:

  • Clarity and focus:

Developing a business model brings clarity to the entrepreneur’s vision. It helps articulate the fundamental components of the business, ensuring a clear understanding of how it operates and creates value.

  • Strategic planning:

A well-crafted business model serves as the foundation for strategic planning. It enables businesses to align their activities, resources, and partnerships with their objectives, fostering a more coherent and effective strategy.

  • Communication and collaboration:

A well-crafted business model serves as a clear and visual guide to the company, simplifying the communication of ideas with stakeholders, team members, partners, and investors. This shared understanding fosters collaboration and streamlines decision-making processes.

  • Risk mitigation:

By thoroughly examining each element of the business model, entrepreneurs can identify potential risks and challenges. This proactive approach allows for developing contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies.

  • Resource allocation:

Understanding the business model helps in allocating resources effectively. Entrepreneurs can prioritize key activities, allocate budgets, and deploy resources where they are most needed, optimizing overall efficiency.

  • Attracting investment:

Investors and partners often scrutinize a business model to evaluate its viability and potential returns. A well-constructed business model instils confidence and can be instrumental in attracting investment or securing partnerships.

In essence, the time invested in creating a business model is an investment in the long-term success, sustainability, and growth of the business. It serves as a roadmap, guiding entrepreneurs through the complexities of the business landscape and positioning them for informed and strategic decision-making.

The Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool used for developing new business models and documenting existing ones. It is a visual chart with elements describing a firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances, assisting businesses in aligning their activities by illustrating potential trade-offs.

The canvas was first proposed by Alexander Osterwalder, a Swiss entrepreneur and consultant, and consists of nine building blocks, providing a general, holistic, and complete overview of a company’s workings, in a simple one-page format.

Osterwalder, Alexander; Pigneur, Yves; Clark, Tim (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook For Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

How to create a business model

Utilising the Business Model Canvas to develop and communicate your business model is a straightforward process.

Let’s go through the process, step by step:

Step 1: Define your customer segment(s)

Begin by identifying your target customers:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their needs?

An effective practice for identifying your customer segments involves engaging in brainstorming sessions to craft detailed buyer personas for your company.

A buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who represents a business’s target audience. It is a fictional but research-based profile that depicts a target customer’s demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals.

By narrowing down your primary customer base, you’ll make it easier to allocate resources and select effective communication channels later on.

Step 2: Craft your value proposition

After identifying your target audience, it’s crucial to articulate how your company will deliver significant value to your customers. Begin by pinpointing the specific problems your products or services aim to solve.

Peter Thomson’s value proposition canvas delves into the various elements within a company that play a role in crafting a robust value proposition. Thomson contends that employing such a method can guide team members toward achieving “minimum viable clarity,” ultimately distilled into a concise, one-sentence value proposition.

We highly recommend adopting Thomson’s model to shape a compelling value proposition that effectively addresses the wants, fears, and needs of your target audience. This strategic approach ensures your value proposition resonates with your customers and sets the stage for a strong market presence.

Value Proposition Canvas Template
Peter Thomson’s value proposition canvas.

Step 3: Choose effective channels

Determine how you will reach your identified customer segments.

Tailor your approach to your audience; consider the most appropriate channels for both promoting your product and delivering your offerings.

For instance, in the context of a retailer, make a deliberate choice between exclusive reliance on e-commerce or the inclusion of physical stores in your approach.

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Step 4: Establish customer relationships

Once you’ve identified your target customer base and outlined the value proposition you intend to deliver, the next crucial step is to develop a comprehensive strategy for establishing and nurturing lasting customer relationships.

Customer relationships take on diverse forms, each carefully crafted to address specific needs and expectations. Consider whether your approach will involve providing personalized services, offering self-service options, or implementing a combination of both. This decision should seamlessly align with the inherent nature of your product or service, ensuring a harmonious and satisfying interaction for your customers.

Read more about how businesses build positive customer relationships in this article by Digital Leadership.

Step 5: Identify revenue streams

When creating a sustainable business model, it is important to have a clear understanding of how the business will make money and what measures it can take to ensure a steady, ideally growing, revenue stream.

Revenue streams can be categorised into three main categories:

  • Transaction-based revenue streams: One-time payments.
  • Recurring revenue streams: Ongoing charges, often in the form of a subscription.
  • Balancing revenue streams: A combination of one-time payments and subscriptions.

Today, a growing number of businesses tend to focus on recurring revenue streams. And that is with good reason:

According to Zuora Subscription Economy Index, subscription-based enterprises have experienced a growth rate that is 4.6 times higher over the last decade in comparison to the S&P 500.

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model emerges as a prominent and widely embraced paradigm within subscription-based enterprises, particularly in sectors like music and video streaming services. However, the scope of recurring revenues extends beyond these domains. Consequently, if you have not yet incorporated recurring revenue streams into your business model, we strongly advocate exploring its potential integration and assessing how it can fortify your overall business strategy.

Step 6: Assess Your Resources

Having a clear revenue strategy is essential, but to execute it successfully, you need to assess your resources. These are the assets and human capital required to deliver the value proposition you’ve identified.

For instance, if you’re in retail, your key resources may include stock, stores, and employees. Your resources can also be a source of competitive advantage, whether it’s a robust logistics network or a highly converting website.

By aligning your revenue streams with the necessary resources, you not only enhance your overall business strategy but also ensure the practical implementation of your revenue-generating plans.

Step 7: Determine key activities

The next step is to determine your business’ key activities. Key activities are the activities you need to be good at to get customers and keep customers happy.

Expanding on the example of a retailer, these key activities could be categorized as follows:

  • Efficient Supply Chain: Streamlining the flow of products from manufacturers to end-users, ensuring timely delivery and minimizing bottlenecks.
  • Manufacturing: If applicable, ensuring the production process is optimized for quality, efficiency, and meeting customer demands.
  • Recruitment: Building and maintaining a skilled and motivated workforce, aligning human resources with the overarching business goals.

Identifying and mastering these key activities will not only bolster your competitive edge but also contribute significantly to the overall success of your business model. This strategic focus on operational excellence ensures that your business is not only attracting customers but also consistently delivering on its promises, fostering long-term loyalty.

Step 8: Cultivate partnerships

As an entrepreneur, it is difficult to run a successful business without good partners.

Partners can include everything from suppliers to customers and investors. These behind-the-scenes allies contribute to ensuring your business has all the necessary resources for success.

Partners can often help each other blossom. A great example is the partnership between Red Bull and GoPro.

In 2012, Red Bull teamed up with GoPro to sponsor a record-breaking skydive, capturing the moment with a GoPro camera. This collaboration evolved into a long-term strategic alliance for extreme sports events like the Red Bull Rampage, where GoPro cameras exclusively capture athletes’ point-of-view shots. The success of this partnership lies in the shared audience of adrenaline enthusiasts, enhancing both brands’ association with high-level thrills.

Step 9: Outline your costs

Running a successful business is fundamentally rooted in the ability to generate greater value for customers than the costs associated with delivering products or services.

Therefore, it is imperative to formulate a well-defined strategy that delineates the costs a company ought to embrace and those it should steer clear of. Strategic cost management involves judiciously categorizing expenses into fixed costs, variable costs, operational costs, distribution costs, and customer acquisition costs. This deliberate approach ensures optimal resource allocation and enhances the overall efficiency of the business.

Consider your costs as investments in delivering value to your customers. Evaluate each cost element critically, understanding its impact on your value proposition. Identify areas where efficiency can be improved and costs can be optimized without compromising quality.

By outlining your costs strategically, you not only gain better control over your financial landscape but also create a foundation for sustained profitability. This step is integral to the holistic view of your business model, aligning your costs with your revenue streams, resources, and key activities to ensure a balanced and thriving enterprise.

Final thoughts

Crafting your business model is a dynamic journey requiring determination and vision. No two ventures are identical, and success lacks a one-size-fits-all formula.

Discover your niche, assemble a stellar team, and consistently deliver outstanding results. Your business model is your unique compass to success.

Good luck! 🙂