Emmit Takes On Business Models: The Intro + 5 Questions (Part 1)

Jan 19

This entry is part of a series, Business Models»


Twice last week,Emmit and I scheduled Twitter chats for discussing business models.  Twice last week, Twitter totally fell down on the job! It was a major Tweet-chat fail. So I’m taking the planned chat content, expanding it a bit, and plonking it down here. There’s more than one way to skin a clown, dang nabbit!

The Topic? Business Models.

Ok, first things first… Emmit is a business plan, not a business model.

What’s the difference?

A business plan is like a road-map and itinerary;  it shows you where you’re going, when you plan to get there, a bit of the surrounding terrain, and gives you milestones by which you can track your progress.

A business model is more akin to the vehicle that carries you on that road-trip – or at least, a blueprint for the vehicle.

Done correctly, a business model reveals how a business intends to make its money – how it turns a profit, or at least pay it’s bills and stay out of bankruptcy court.

In its most basic form, a business model identifies what products or services you sell, and some of the details of how you struture those sales:   retail outlets, advertising,  subscription models,  commissions, etc.

But just like cars are more than just four wheels and a seat, a well-defined business model is more than just “what you’re selling”.

Here’s a (maybe) better definition:

It's A Flourish!
“A business model is how an organization
creates, captures and delivers value.”

It's Another Flourish!

Notice that this shifts the focus from “selling something” to “providing value” – which is what actually convinces people to give you their money (or live chickens, or whatever you get paid in). It’s a big change in approach for most of us, but nearly every element of  business, from product development to marketing, gets just a little easier to wrangle when you focus on providing value, as opposed to selling *stuff*.

Now, at this point, fancy pants business advisors usually start throwing out terms like “Customer Value Proposition”, “Differentation” “Foothold” and “Distribution Channel Logistics”.

They’d also use a lot of acronyms.

I know this, because Mr. Spouse works for a Fortune 500 company,  full of fancy pants business people.  He assures me that ARVI (Acronyms-R-Very-Important) holds a treasured place on all conference calls and meetings with upper management.  He also assures me that me no one really remembers what the acronyms mean, but everyone pretends that they do, because ARVI is what distinguishes real business people from people like Quirkipreneurs.

But we’re Quirkipreneurs, right?

So we won’t be doing the whole ARVI thing. (No Acronyms For You! NAFU!)

Instead of an obscure and irritating acronym, I’ve come up with five little questions and one really wacky visualization.

It's A Flourish!

The Five Questions (beta version!)

These questions are still dressed up in their business clothes, because they’re in beta. By the time we’re done corrupting them, they’ll be much friendlier, and will likely be wandering around in tie-dyed t-shirts and flip-flops. Ready? Here they are:

  1. What value does your thing create or enhance?
  2. How do you capture that value?
  3. How do you deliver that value?
  4. Who do you deliver the value to?
  5. How do you keep that process sustainable?


If you already know the answers to those questions, I’m incredibly impressed.  Go write ‘em down, then read the rest of the posts in this series for added insight.

But If you haven’t got single clue how to answer, and those questions make your head want to explode?  I’m here for you, and so is Emmit and his promised wacky visualization.

So hang on, that’s coming just as soon as I can get it typed up!

P.S. While you’re waiting, you could check out @bizfinanceforum’s latest BlogTalk episode at http://tobtr.com/s/1464438.   It’s  all about business plans, and she even answers some of the questions that came up on the #emmit stream.

It's Another Flourish!

Comments? Ok, we can do that.
How about this as a conversation starter:  Do you have trouble getting out of  a  “gotta sell stuff” mindset and into a “providing value” way of thinking?


  1. Okay, so the five questions, they now live in a sticky on my desktop. So I’ll see them and be reminded of them, and an answer to each will come in it’s own time.


    And ice cream, since it’s really hot here.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve stopped making sense, so thank you for this post, and I’m going to go stew on it for a bit.

  2. Loving this, Tori! Great job!

    I, personally, don’t have to switch gears to change from “selling stuff” to “providing value.” I feel I’m very lucky in that regard. I think the reason is that I’m a member of the niche I’m marketing to, so it’s much easier to think less “gimme yo money!” and more “let me help you out!”

    I will say that I never thought of it in exactly those terms, though, not until reading this. 😉

  3. Regrettably, yes. Or at least, sometimes.

    I’m still in this weird black-and-white mentality: I’d be perfectly happy giving it all away for free, but if I’m to be charging money, then whoa nellie! Give me the goods already!

    This gets worse the higher my stress levels get re: is my Mr. Spouse going to be able to quit his job before his job quits him?

  4. @birdydiamond – oh I’m so there! I’m having long conversations with myself about why I won’t let myself charge money and I now developing a secret weapon which I only have to pick up… hmmm, next challenge!
    Thanks Tori, I need you to keep me quirky! The 5 questions are going on my desktop for ponderage. Yay!

  5. I can get paid in chickens? What about puppies?

    Now don’t get me started on Fancy Pants Biz Terms. I would have to go into a full glitter stomping rant. Suffice to say you don’t need any of those words to run a profitable business.

    Finally thanks for the shout out Tori!

  6. I’m a bit like Birdy, perhaps. I’m comfortable thinking in terms of providing value, and I’m moderately happy selling stuff, but when I’m selling stuff I have a weird need for it to be stuff. Actual real things.

    I have some draft answers to the five questions, the kind of answers that only even make sense to me, but it’s a start. Number 5 is a tricky one, though.

  7. An ex used to refer to the TLA (three letter acronyms) in state government all the time. I just call ’em Alphabet Soup.

    And, considering that reference and the watery and mealy textures of said canned soup… no wonder the idea is distasteful! (Pun unintended, at first.)

    Value always seems so ethereal (there’s that word I was looking for last night!) and subjective while stuff is stuff, and stuff is easier to charge for (if you can get up the nerve to ask, that is). Perhaps I need to spend a little time making value real and not so filmy and vague?


  8. NAFU is the best anti-acronym acronym ever.

    p.s. In my head, the letter A is an anarchy sign. Because, you know, it just has that vibe.

  9. Maureen /

    I think buyers who buy from sellers, LET the seller THINK it’s just stuff. BUT what people REALLY believe they buy is value. I don’t buy something for myself because it’s stuff I buy it because it can give me something I value ie peace of mind, time and energy saved. That’s what buyers look for. If you give someone value instead of just stuff they will purchase it from you rather than from someone else.If you are successful at selling stuff its because you’ve shown your buyer the value the will get from the purchase.
    Also I have this absolutely horrid visualization embedded in my brain of a clown being skinned. It will take a LOT of magic dust to make it go away. Ok a rum and coke might do it.

  10. I’m hoping that your business plan model will be easier for me to follow than the one’s I’ve been trying so far.

    I filled out the five questions. I’m pretty focused, but it’s mostly been in my head until now.