The First Step in Data Driven Success: Using the Business Model Canvas

By Andrew Gaiennie, That Email Marketing Guy

In today’s marketplace, your business faces unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding your business’s blueprint can be the difference between thriving and just surviving. That’s where Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas (BMC) comes in: a powerful tool that provides a one-page snapshot of your business model.

Let’s delve into how your business can use the BMC to refine its strategy, innovate, and ultimately outperform all expectations with data driven success.

Watch to learn more about the charts used alongside this blog post – and insights from Andrew himself!

The Essence of Business Model Canvas

Figure 1: Use this to print out a copy to use along with this blog post

The BMC simplifies the data driven strategic management and planning process with a data-centric methodology. It breaks down a business model into nine essential components: 

  1. Key Partners
  2. Key Activities
  3. Key Resources
  4. Value Propositions
  5. Customer Relationships
  6. Channels
  7. Customer Segments
  8. Cost Structure
  9. Revenue Streams

This visual chart encourages thinking beyond traditional business plans; promoting clarity, focus, and flexibility.

Step 1: Mapping Your Business 

Figure 2: The questions you will answer as you fill out each of the components

Start with a blank canvas and post-it notes. You can also laminate a copy and use dry erase markers, or using presentation paper or whiteboard draw out the boxes in a larger format. Using a physical process is important, as it will engage more of your senses and keep your mind calm, logical and thinking with positive creativity and understanding. Involve your team and mentors during this process as well so everyone can help unearth insights and foster a sense of ownership across the business.

Data is what is known, inferred, and unknown. “I don’t know” IS data, so if you don’t have an answer for a segment put that down in big letters. Not all the blocks need to be filled in!

Many small or niche operations’ competitive advantage is NOT needing to use a typically vital resource or process, or you may just not know what to put in. As long as you can draw a continuous line across boxes that end in profit, you have discovered your Golden Thread: the line of decisions and actions that take you from where you start to wherever you want to end up.

Try to fill in each block in the following order:

  • Customer Segments: Identify who your business serves. Local businesses often have a clear advantage in understanding their community’s needs. Are you targeting busy professionals, companies, or nonprofits or something/someone else? If you don’t know, try remembering your favorite 3 previous clients and try to define them as an audience segment and why they needed you. Needs can be classified as personal, social or professional.
  • Value Propositions: Determine what makes your offerings unique. Why should customers choose you over competitors? This could be your local charm, personalized services, or your commitment to sustainability. What Pain Point does your work relieve, what Value does your work create? Each unique feature of your work should connect to a unique need in your customer segmentation.
  • Channels: Outline how you reach your customers. For local businesses, this might include your physical storefront, local markets, social media, and your website.
  • Customer Relationships: Define how you interact with customers to create and maintain relationships. Personal service, community involvement, and loyalty programs are key strategies for local businesses. The most important relationship is the one that controls the sales process. 

It is often the first major point of improvement to come to understand that a website checkout feature is what owns the most valuable relationship with your clients. If you’re not the one closing the sale in person, it’s worth it to make sure that the thing that is provides all the customer satisfaction you would provide if you were doing it yourself.

  • Revenue Streams: Identify how your business makes money and that attention is currency in our information age. Besides direct sales, consider workshops, memberships, or affiliate marketing. 

Networking with other professionals will provide insights into new or improved revenue streams. Avoid spying on your competition, as what appears to be something they do successfully may in fact be a loss-leader or not a viable option for your particular business model. Talking with friendly professionals in the same kind of work as you gives the chance to make sure what they’re doing is making them happy.

  • Key Resources: List the assets essential to your value proposition. This could be skills, experience, your location, technology, or special relationships

If you’re not listing “email network”, this is your sign to start building one.

  • Key Activities: Highlight the most important things your business must do to deliver its value proposition. For a bookkeeper, this may be recording and tracking financial information, completing payroll function, and submitting reports. 
  • Key Partners: Identify external companies or individuals who help you operate. Local suppliers, marketing agencies, or business associations can be crucial. Listing people and entities that can stop you from working is important too: license requirements, dependent family, and your office’s landlord are all things to keep in mind as you grow.
  • Cost Structure: Understand the costs involved in operating your business. Rent, salaries, marketing, and supply costs are common expenses. Be sure to include your time and salary here. If you need a reference, consider that your time should be worth $105 per hour to your company. This value will help anchor the true worth of everything else, and show you if you can afford to scale up or if you need to get leaner first.

Step 2: Analyzing and Innovating

Figure 3: Begin developing your data driven strategy

Once your canvas is filled, analyze it to identify opportunities for innovation or improvement.

  • Identify Inefficiencies: Look for areas where resources are wasted or activities do not add sufficient value. It is common to identify things that don’t make sense at this point, and the fastest way to get improved outcomes is to correct these inefficiencies first.
  • Spot Opportunities: Use your canvas to pinpoint new customer segments, untapped revenue streams, or potential partnerships. Feel free to be as creative and innovative as you want, but always take on new opportunities in small steps. Hard pivots are difficult and expensive, so make changes or add on functions slowly. 
  • Differentiate: Consider how you can enhance your value proposition. Could you offer more personalized experiences or leverage technology in new ways? How you and you customers think of your value proposition is always misaligned to some degree. A place for constant improvement is learning more and more about what feature your audience values the most and how you can better deliver that to them.  

Step 3: Implementing Changes

Figure 4: Implement your ideas and collect real data of your operations to test and measure success

With insights from your BMC analysis, prioritize changes that could have the biggest impact on your business. 

Start small to test ideas without overcommitting resources.

  • Prototype New Ideas: Test new products or services in a controlled environment. Gather customer feedback to refine your offerings. Try to scale a new idea down to $100, and try to make $101 or better back. Even if only theoretical this will ensure you’re always operating in a well-informed manner and will provide a starting point of measurable data. 
  • Monitor and Adapt: Use customer feedback and sales data to measure the success of your changes. Be prepared to pivot or iterate on your ideas. Always keep in mind that your business only cares about the opinions and actions of people that provide its revenue. Don’t let people or ideas outside that influence how you improve your business. 
Selling the Narrative

In addition to systematizing and scaling your business, creating and applying a BMC sets you up to tell amazing stories. Multiply the value of your efforts by integrating the story of your process into your content publishing. 

The Power of Community

Your business has a unique advantage: a real connection to your community. The BMC can help you deepen your community engagement by identifying new ways to serve and connect with your customers. Whether through community events, partnerships with other local businesses, or social media engagement, strengthening your community ties can be a powerful growth driver.

Conclusion

The Business Model Canvas started as a tool for startups or large corporations, and now it’s also a strategic powerhouse for small and medium local businesses. By providing a clear framework to dissect and understand your business model, it can uncover insights and opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked. Remember, the goal is not to have a perfect canvas on day one but to continuously evolve your business model in response to changing market dynamics and customer needs.

Your business success is essential to the success of your community. By leveraging the BMC, you can ensure your business not only survives but thrives in any market.

Andrew Gaiennie, That Email Marketing Guy
Andrew Gaiennie, That Email Marketing Guy

Small business marketing made simple!

Follow Andrew to learn more at That Email Marketing Guy

Contact: andrew@temg.cc

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