Companies can offer the best customer support, resources, and opportunities, but they still need to make money. If you're running an early stage startup, you need to figure out how to make the jump from product to profit. That means selling, networking, and finding viable customers.
'One of the most popular questions for startups online (and even major ones like Twitter and Facebook) is 'what is your business model?,' says Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten at The Next Web.
A business model is the way that a company creates and distributes value, encompassing how it makes and delivers its products and services.
'The interesting thing about business models is that there is not much magic involved,' Van Zanten wrote.' Business models are pretty much set and all of you have to do is apply one of them to your business. The trick of course is to pick the right one. Or a combination of models.'
Even though business models are simple - they are different ways to make stuff or provide a service, then get money - applications can be as creative as you'd like.
For inspiration, check out these three companies:
1. Udacity: Monetizing Education
Stanford professor and expert computer scientist Sebastian Thrun launched Udacity with one goal in mind — to make education more accessible to the world. Since Udacity's launch, Thrun's company has educated hundreds of thousands of students from around the world in topics including python programming, web design, and entrepreneurship. The company provides course materials designed for the ivy leagues without the pricetag.
So, how will Udacity bring in the bucks?
First, Udacity has begun offering a series of proficiency exams in technical topic areas that require a testing fee. Second, Udacity connects top-performing students with corporate employers in exchange for a referral fee. Following this model, everyone in the cycle wins: the employer meets high-quality applicants, Udacity earns a commission, and students have easy access to learning.
2. Blank Label: Monetizing Personalization
Mens' style is tough to get right. That's why the founders at Blank Label have built a platform to help men personalize their own styles.
'If you've ever been frustrated by the lack of dress shirt options at JCrew or Brooks Brothers, Blank Label may just be the solution to your woes,' writes Lara Indvik for Mashable. 'The company's online shirt design application enables consumers to co-design their own dress shirts with a wide range of customizable options, from fabrics and lining colors to fit and stitching details.'
The company takes a new twist to a classic e-commerce challenge of personalization and getting the fit 'just right.' It's a fun way for male shoppers to get exactly what they want.
How does Blank Label make money?
Blank Label earns millions of dollars in revenue by selling to an audience of professional men — the company earns a profit on every transaction.
3. BuySellAds: The Classic Online Advertising Model — Simplified
It would be an understatement to say that online advertising can be a very intricate and complex industry. From bidding algorithms to auction-based placements, it can be tough to put your brand on the map.
BuySellAds is simplifying the process by directly connecting advertisers with publishers who have available display inventory. You can handpick where you want your advertisements to appear and what brands you want your company to be associated with.
How does BuySellAds make it rain?
The idea is genius in its straightforward approach. Publishers and advertisers can work directly with each other in partnering up with BuySellAds as the 'middle man.' BuySellAds fosters the advertiser to publisher relationship and earns a commission on every transaction.
Business Models Aren't Evolving — But Business Values Are
Core business models have remained unchanged for the last two decades, according to Brad McCarty. What's changing is how companies are using them.
'The models haven't changed, but the systems are more democratic than ever,' he wrote.
What cool business models have you recently come across? Do you think business models are changing? Share your feedback in the comments section below.