Transforming Your Business Model to Reflect the Changing World

January 16, 2018

Advancing technologies continue to disrupt business norms, leaving behind companies unwilling or unable to adapt. Industry leaders that are open to embracing change and reframing their traditional business models with innovative alternatives stand to gain a competitive advantage. Learn how to challenge conventions and expand possibilities, and discover new ways your business plan can transform to better reflect emerging trends.

At the intersection of new technology, market trends, and positive growth is an innovative business model. Surviving the challenges of a rapidly changing world means brands must learn how to incorporate trends and technologies into their business plans. Periodic deconstruction of old models to make way for new ideas will clarify your overall vision, and the new approach will stimulate growth, open new markets, and help you endure inevitable industry disruptions.   

While there are dozens of standard business models and millions of possible variations, successful reframing begins with the simple notion of “what if…?”. Many of the top companies in the world are successfully adapting to change by harnessing technology, borrowing ideas from other industries, and reimagining what was once unthinkable. What begins as a little question turns into big ideas that drive some of today’s most transformative business models. Study some of these innovative approaches to spark new ideas for your business plan.  

> Resource Optimization. Business plans that incorporate renewable energy sources and efficiency technologies empower companies to streamline processes and product design. Consider ways your business plan can include regenerative resourcing to minimize waste and optimize cost management. Examples: Offering discounts for equipment trade-ins or reusing shredded paper for packaging.

> Shared Assets. Digital technology allows some companies to avoid the cost of owning assets (like real estate, vehicles, and equipment) while still profiting from the consumption of these goods and services. Are there assets that you can rent, borrow, or harness in another way?  Think of ways you can create value while sharing the cost of infrequently or inconsistently used assets. Examples: Using a branded app for services provided by a third party or leveraging partnerships to share car fleets or office space. 

> Personalization. Highly adaptive business models embrace the emergence of segment-of-one marketing as the next iteration of niche marketing and mass customization. In this model, brands predict customer preferences by tracking behaviors, then customize their products and services to meet those preferences. How are you harnessing technology to create personalized experiences for your customers? Example: Online recommendations based on past purchases or customized reports.    

> Volume-based Pricing. Advancements in digitization allow multiple customers to consume products simultaneously and at zero marginal cost to the company. Identify products or services that can be digitized and offered to a wider audience. Examples: Online sale of educational courses or subscription-based access to digital programs, books, music, or other information. 

> Interconnectedness. Globalization and rising costs are driving companies to embrace technological interconnectedness. How can you optimize value chain collaboration and keep your stakeholders connected? Examples: Handheld tracking systems help manage deliveries and monitor supply chains, and sensors on machinery alert management to production problems.  

> Agility. The ability to stay flexible and adaptive while releasing improved iterations of products and services is how agile business models empower brands to meet rapidly changing demands. If your operations plan over-emphasizes efficiency and ignores flexibility, you may want to consider more agile approaches. Examples: Maintaining low inventory while constantly developing and testing new designs, or implementing temporary solutions and rolling out rapid updates until a problem is solved. 

Whether your business plan needs a complete transformation or just a few tweaks, looking at your operations in new ways and challenging business assumptions can help your company adapt to a rapidly changing world. 

Think Like an Industry Disrupter! 

Most business leaders rely on time-honored, standard business practices, but what if some of your core beliefs limit your growth? Teaching yourself to challenge traditional thinking can help you to reinvent your old business model and grow your company in a whole new way. Try these simple steps:

> Outline your business model or one most common to your industry. 

> Break down the main components of the plan and categorize them in broad terms, like Audience, Value Proposition, Resources, Revenue, Distribution, and Processes.

Tease out the underlying assumptions that support each category by stating what personal beliefs validate that approach. Pay attention to how you understand consumer behavior, technology, economics, and contracting. 

> Temporarily reject these core beliefs and brainstorm radical “what-if” approaches for each, even if you know they might be rejected. 

> Look to other industries that use nontraditional models similar to your ideas, and broaden your understanding of why these approaches might work or fail in your market.

> Pick one idea at a time and fine-tune it to meet your company’s needs. 

> Test the approach on a small scale, refine the plan, and repeat until ready to scale.