By Eric Dickmann

March 17, 2023

Business Model

Starting a business can be an exciting but challenging endeavor, and one of the most critical steps in building a successful business is developing a strong business model. A business model is essentially a blueprint for how your business will operate, generate revenue, and sustain profitability over time. It can be a complex process, but with careful planning and execution, you can create a solid foundation for your business to thrive. In this blog post, we will explore some key steps and considerations for developing a business model that can help you achieve your goals and build a sustainable business. 

According to a recent study, having no business model for a product resulted in 17% of startup failures. In these unsuccessful businesses, founders often focused on developing a product but failed to conceptualize a business model for making the product successful. Building a product or service model is only a part of starting a successful business, you also need to ensure you understand how you’re going to make money. This is the function of a business model.

What is a Business Model?

A business model is a strategic framework that outlines how a company creates, delivers, and captures value. It involves identifying the target market, understanding the customers' needs, developing a product or service that meets those needs, and determining the most efficient and effective way to sell that product or service to the customers. A business model also outlines how a company plans to generate revenue and achieve profitability over time. This includes factors such as pricing strategy, cost structure, and distribution channels. A well-defined business model is critical for any company, as it provides a roadmap for how the business will operate and succeed in the long run. Ultimately, a successful business model enables a company to create value for its customers while generating sustainable profits for itself.

Why is a Business Model Important?

A business model is important because it provides direction, identifies opportunities, enables efficient resource allocation, attracts investors, and facilitates adaptation to change. A well-defined and viable business model is essential for the success and longevity of any company.

A business model is crucial for the success of a company for several reasons:

  • Provides Direction - A business model helps a company to define its goals, identify its target market, and develop a clear strategy for achieving success. It serves as a roadmap that guides decision-making and helps a company to stay focused on its objectives.
  • Helps to Identify Opportunities - Developing a business model involves analyzing market trends, identifying customer needs, and exploring potential revenue streams. This process can help a company to identify new opportunities and untapped markets, which can help it to stay ahead of competitors.
  • Enables Efficient Resource Allocation - By understanding the cost structure and revenue streams of a business, a business model enables a company to allocate its resources more efficiently. It helps a company to prioritize investments, manage costs, and optimize its operations to achieve profitability.
  • Attracts Investors - A well-defined and viable business model is attractive to investors as it demonstrates the potential for growth and profitability. It provides investors with a clear understanding of how their investment will be used, what the company's revenue streams are, and how they can expect to receive a return on their investment.
  • Facilitates Adaptation to Change - A business model is not a static document and needs to be adapted over time to reflect changes in the market, customer needs, and other external factors. A well-defined business model enables a company to be agile and responsive to changes, allowing it to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

Business Models for SMBs

A business model is the strategy that a company uses to generate revenue and profits. For a small business, a business model typically involves identifying a target market and determining how to sell a product or service to that market in a profitable way.


A business model is a structure that supports the viability of a product or company. It explains how the company operates, makes money, and how it intends to achieve its goals. It’s an explanation of how you deliver value to your customers at an appropriate cost.

In their simplest forms, business models have three parts: 

  1. What it takes to make something - design, raw materials, manufacturing, labor, etc.
  2. What it takes to sell that thing - marketing, distribution, delivery, and processing
  3. How and what the customer pays - pricing strategy, payment methods, payment timing, etc.

A business model is what costs and expenses you have and how much you can charge for your product or service. You need to collect more money from customers than it costs to make, market and sell the product.

Common Business Models

Here are some common business models used by small and midsize businesses:

  • Retail - Purchase products from suppliers and selling them directly to customers. Retail businesses may operate in physical storefronts, online marketplaces, or both.
  • Service-Based - Provide services to customers in exchange for a fee. Examples include consulting firms, accounting firms, and legal services.
  • Subscription-Based - Charge customers a recurring fee for access to a product or service. Examples include software as a service (SaaS) companies and subscription box services.
  • Franchise - A small business can become a franchise by purchasing the right to operate a business model developed by another company. This allows the small business to benefit from the established brand recognition and support of the larger company.
  • E-Commerce - Sell products or services online. E-commerce businesses may operate through their own website or on third-party marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy.
  • Licensing - License intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks, to other companies in exchange for a fee.

It's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a business model. The right model for a small business will depend on factors such as the product or service being offered, the target market, and the resources available to the business.

Marketing is not just a department, it's the heartbeat of a business model. It's the art of understanding customer needs and desires, and the science of crafting solutions that meet those needs. Without effective marketing, even the best products and services will struggle to succeed in a crowded and competitive marketplace."

Eric Dickmann

Fractional CMO at The Five Echelon Group

Developing an Ideal Business Model

The process of developing a business model involves identifying the target market, developing a value proposition, analyzing the competition, determining revenue streams and cost structure, choosing a distribution channel, and testing and refining the model over time. A well-developed and viable business model is essential for the success and longevity of any company.

The process of developing a business model involves several key steps:

  1. Identify the Target Market - The first step in developing a business model is to identify the target market. This involves understanding the needs and preferences of potential customers, as well as any gaps in the market that your product or service could fill.
  2. Develop a Value Proposition - Once the target market has been identified, the next step is to develop a value proposition. This is a statement that outlines how your product or service will solve a problem or meet a need for the customer.
  3. Analyze the Competition - Understanding the competition is essential for developing a successful business model. Analyze your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, their pricing strategies, and their target markets to identify potential opportunities and threats.
  4. Determine Revenue Streams - Revenue streams refer to the different ways in which a company generates income. Identify potential revenue streams for your business, such as product sales, subscriptions, or advertising.
  5. Determine Cost Structure - It is important to understand the costs associated with running your business. Determine the fixed and variable costs, and identify opportunities for cost optimization.
  6. Choose a Distribution Channel - The distribution channel refers to how your product or service will be delivered to the customer. Choose the most effective and efficient distribution channel for your business, such as a physical storefront, e-commerce, or a third-party platform.
  7. Test and Refine - Once the business model has been developed, test it in the market and gather feedback from customers and stakeholders. Use this feedback to refine and improve the business model over time.

Developing an ideal business model involves several steps, including identifying the target market, understanding customer needs, creating a unique value proposition, designing a revenue model, defining key performance indicators (KPIs), and continuously testing and refining the model. Marketing plays a crucial role in the development of a business model by helping to identify customer needs, build brand awareness, increase sales, and enhance customer loyalty. By incorporating marketing from the beginning and continuously refining the model, businesses can create a sustainable and profitable model that meets the needs of their target market and achieves their business objectives.

Marketing Expertise in Building Your Business Model

Marketing should be an integral part of the business model development, and it should be incorporated from the very beginning. By identifying the target market, developing a value proposition, choosing marketing channels, creating a marketing budget, and measuring results, companies can create an effective marketing strategy that supports their business objectives.

This is where the services of a fractional CMO come in. Many companies lack an experienced marketing leader that can validate assumptions in the company's business model and build a strategy to bring products to market. Fractional CMOs do this on a part-time basis at a much lower cost than a full-time hire. When your money is on the line, get the experience you need to bring your products to market successfully!

Marketing Strategy and Your Business Model

Marketing is important when building a business model because it helps to understand customer needs, identify market opportunities, build brand awareness, increase sales, and enhance customer loyalty. By integrating a marketing strategy into the business model, companies can increase their chances of success and create a sustainable and profitable business.

Marketing is a crucial component of building a successful business model for several reasons:

  • Understanding Customer Needs - Marketing research provides valuable insights into customer needs and preferences. By understanding your target audience, you can tailor your product or service to meet their specific needs and preferences, which increases the likelihood of success.
  • Identifying Market Opportunities - Marketing research can help identify gaps in the market that your product or service can fill. This can help you to create a unique selling proposition that differentiates your business from competitors and increases the chances of success.
  • Building Brand Awareness - Effective marketing helps to build brand awareness and reputation. This is essential for attracting and retaining customers, especially in crowded and competitive markets.
  • Increasing Sales - Marketing activities such as advertising, promotions, and sales campaigns can increase sales and revenue. By effectively communicating the value proposition of your product or service to potential customers, you can encourage them to purchase and become loyal customers.
  • Enhancing Customer Loyalty - Marketing activities can help to build customer loyalty by providing a positive experience and building trust with your target audience. This can result in repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals, which can help to attract new customers.

Marketing strategy is crucial in a business model as it helps to identify and understand the target market, differentiate the product or service from competitors, build brand awareness and reputation, increase sales and revenue, and enhance customer loyalty. By incorporating marketing from the beginning and continuously refining the marketing strategy, businesses can create a sustainable and profitable business model that meets the needs of their target market and achieves their business objectives. A well-designed marketing strategy is essential for the success of a business model, as it helps to effectively communicate the value proposition of the product or service to potential customers and build a positive reputation in the market.

A Fractional CMO to Validate Your Business Model

Fractional CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) can help companies validate their business model and bring new products and services to market by providing expert guidance and support in various areas such as market research, product development, branding, and marketing strategy. They can conduct market research to identify customer needs and preferences and help companies develop products and services that meet those needs. They can also help companies build strong brands that differentiate them from competitors and develop marketing strategies that effectively reach target customers. Additionally, fractional CMOs can provide valuable insights and feedback throughout the product development and launch process, helping companies make informed decisions and stay on track towards success. By leveraging the expertise of fractional CMOs, companies can increase their chances of success in a highly competitive market.


In conclusion, developing a business model is a crucial step in starting and growing a successful business. By taking the time to analyze your market, your customers, and your competition, you can create a plan that sets you up for success. Remember, your business model is not set in stone; it can evolve and adapt as your business grows and changes. So take these tips and get started on building the foundation for your business today!

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Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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