Emmit Takes On Business Models: An Intuitive Approach (Part 2)

Jan 23

This entry is part of a series, Business Models»

This Business Model article comes in Puzzle Pieces. This is the 2nd one. A Few Days Ago…

I rambled through an explanation of business models, and cobbled together five questions that a proper business model addresses.  You might want to keep them handy, so here they are again:

  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?

Seems pretty logical, so far.

Ready For The Weird Part?

This is where Emmit-His-Self got involved.

(If you’re not familar with Emmit yet, well… he’s a bit hard to explain. Emmit is my business plan, and he’s sort of a cross between Eddie Izzard and Bozo The Clown  – if Bozo were a closeted drag queen with a fetish for sparklies)

Anyway, when he first heard I was writing about business models, Emmit got all excited. On went his best Italian clown nose, and the  Big Shoes from Prada, and he strutted off to the Fashion District in search of a new career.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we weren’t talking about that kind of model, so I just sorta went with the flow.

I mean, who am I to say he’ll never be one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels?  Once your business plan dresses up in circus lights, the idea of him becoming a fashion model doesn’t seem all that shocking.

So I Got Out Of The Way

… and let the image develop in my brain.

There, in my mind’s eye, was Emmit was, strutting in the spotlights and looking quite yummy, actually.  Confident, cool, suave, without even a shade of the self-conscious goofiness you’d expect from, say, me.  Or from pretty much anyone, if they were modeling the latest styles of business-clown wear.

Flashbulbs were going off all around; the audience was going wild.  As he moved down the runway, His Emmit-ness interacted with the crowd, handing out info-packets, books and swag as he went. Every so often he stopped, bent over, whispered something in an ear, and they’d either grin and nod, or double over in laughter.

But no matter what he did, it somehow seemed both responsive, and self-determined.

And he was rocking it.

Now, This Is Where It Gets Useful:

Remember those five business model questions at the top of the post? I used them to sort of interview Emmit, as he stood on the runway, playing at being a business model. (Actually, it was more like interviewing the visualization, because Emmit hisself was too busy strutting to stop and answer.)

The result? Some surprisingly useful information. But before I tell you my model, let’s see if we can’t get yours visualized first. Ready?

(If you’re really serious about this, you can turn it into an audio session, recording it as you go – me, I’m never THAT serious. I just wing it and hope I remember what happens.)

It's A Flourish!

Relax your eyes, your jaw, your shoulders.
Take a deep breath.

Find your center, if you need to.

Now, look at that big movie screen inside your head; let the images start to play across it freely.  Maybe it’s just a flicker of light, at first, but slowly, it comes into focus.

There… do you see that, up on the screen?

It’s the model for your business!

Let it take whatever form it chooses; don’t try to force or shape the images. Allow them to find their own way, gently, on their own terms.

Maybe the image is resolving itself into a fashion model on a runway, or in a magazine, or catalog.

Maybe it’s a model plane.

Maybe it’s a cabin made out of popsicle sticks.


Just let it be.

Notice as many details about it as you can, the color, texture, any emotions, scents, sounds.  Explore.  Poke at it.  Interact.

And when you’re ready,
ask the first of your five questions:

What value does this Thing create or enhance?

Your Thing is your business, project, adventure or whatever.  Ask the question, and let the image do whatever it wants to do, even if it seems absurd. Maybe especially if it seems absurd. Record the resulting images,  with as much detail, and as many senses as you can. And give the answer some space.  Got it? Awesome.  When you are ready, repeat with each remaining question.




How does this Thing capture that value?




How does this Thing deliver that value?




Who does this Thing deliver the value to?




How does this Thing keep the process sustainable?




Rinse, Lather, Record, Repeat.


It's Another Flourish!

When you’re finished, you should have some interesting, perhaps puzzling new information about your potential business model.

If it seems unclear or puzzling, try analyzing it like a dream.

But don’t think because I’m comparing this visualization to dream analysis that it’s all woo-woo-fluffy-stuff.  This may seem wacky, but it’s pretty grounded,  practical, psychological stuff.

The point is to get your preconceived, limited ideas of business models out of your way by shutting down the limits on your vision.   It’s about turning things over to your subconscious, broadening your horizons.

It’s about looking at your business potential with fresh eyes, and fresh imagination, and taking the most formal, intimidating business concepts and making them approachable, even fun.

It’s about shedding the (ridiculous) idea that you, as a Quirkipreneur, should deliver your value in the sort of package you’d be happy buying from a major corporation.

Or a street-arts vendor.

Or a high-end gallery.

Or anyone but someone like *you*

Because while your business model may share some similarities with those established ways-of-doing-business, you’re quirky.  Your model should, by definition, be different – it needs to not just allow for those differences, but exploit them.

Coming Up Next?

My own results from this exercise, complete with the visualization, interpretation, an official proposed business model and maybe even an action plan.

Oh, and of course Emmit’s own commentary!

Have your own commentary to share?

Variations on the idea?
Refinement to the questions?
Just want to share your results or talk about what kind of tea you like best?
Go for it!


  1. Oh, wow! I think I get, now, why I haven’t gotten my attempts at marketing my thing weren’t jiving–I was treating it like some egalitarian playground, open for all, when really it’s a black-and-white-era Hollywood starlet VIP lounge with limited access and incredibly high standards. And why not, right?

  2. Maureen /

    Hmmm. I will sit down tomorrow with this. I keep getting this vision of a roaring lion. Then something pops up and says don’t be so silly and then the lion roars again. I thought it might be my internal editor stopping the play….
    But I’m getting this excited feeling there is some sort of interplay between the lion and what keeps popping up. Not sure what keeps popping up.
    I need a good nite sleep

  3. Tori Deaux /

    @Scraps: Oh, that makes total sense for you! The irony, of course, is that by making it VIP with limited access, suddenly everyone will want in and the crowd will stretch for blocks, dahling!

    @Maureen: Rawr! I’m so curious as to what’s going on there… updates when you figure it out, please? (because I know you will. that’s how you roll)

    • That’s what SHE said, too! lol And the (semi-)sad thing is that I’ve “known” this all along–I keep reading niche this and micro-niche that–but it just didn’t click until pearls-and-mink told me herself.

  4. This is awesome! Thank you!

  5. Still thinking and yes it is an interplay….
    I want this done since I plan on setting up my website this weekend….

  6. Maureen /

    Okay I am ready. This seems so personal but exciting so here goes…

    A beautiful snow leopard pacing, at a gentle lope, through a jungle. Not an ordinary jungle. Instead of vines hanging down it is wires: thick, thin, shiny, dull, colours, iridescent, dark. The leopard has a name: Portentia. She is restless and every once in awhile she lets out a snarl and soft roar. At first I thought I was the leopard. But I am running beside her. Both of us side by side. I can see what I am wearing but what it is is not important. How it feels is what matters. What matters is how I feel. Free, wind brushing against my skin, coolness of the air on my face. When she roars, I smile reach over to stroke her and calmly whisper, “Don’t be silly. I’m right here.” it is the most exhilarating feeling the world.

    This thing will produce that value I feel: freedom, inspiration, the impact that I, a mere mortal can feel, in the presence of such a majestic creature. It will lead everyone I reach, to that feeling they are looking for. Whatever it is for them. That sense of exhilaration I feel when i imagine this. But they have to be daring and take a chance to run beside such a creature as Portenia.

    • Tori Deaux /

      Interesting stuff, Maureen! It’s going to be even more interesting to see how it manifests in your new site; thanks for being brave enough to post it 🙂

      • Okay an idea of being a guide in a maze or going through the maze and offering maps on how to find your way through it… Still thinking…

      • Tori Deaux /

        Just checking in on you, Maureen… any clarification on how these images translate into your business plans and models?

      • OMGosh Tori. I’m up and running. I carried my reply to onto a post on my sparkling new website and added a bit more to it. Not quite finished. Looking for a different theme but I wanted to finish the Right Brained Business Plan book before I did that and added a few more pages. I even mentioned you! and our course Circus Serene!
        Plus I think it was you who recommended the Novel Website Design. Totally cool course which I took and it was worth every single dime and then some!
        By the way, Portentia is my own mind, running beside me! Cool eh?

  7. I’m still caught in the straightjacket words of ordinariness. I’m finding it difficult to break out of my limitatiions. Will have to give this some more thought.

  8. @jacquelinejewel OMGosh that is so visually appropriate for how I feel as well.
    I’ve always thought I was a bit of a renegade on how a business plan should look and work but to do what Tori is doing is WAY out of my comfort zone.
    On the other hand it is soooo exciting because I love to be creative and even being a renegade has it’s stifling moments.

  9. Jacqueline:Can I use what you said in a quote?

  10. Please excuse all the typos in my response. Was way to excited to spell check.