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Creative Career Path

A Business Model for Your Career2012.04.23

    A business model is the rationale, or strategy for how a business creates and delivers value, as well as earns revenues and makes a profit. The term business model has come into popular use with the recognition that business models can be analyzed, and in some ways replicated.


    Companies which lead their industries, such as McDonalds in fast food, Walmart in mass merchandising, Toyota in manufacturing, in e-commerce, and Starbucks in coffee houses, have all been studied and copied based on the assumption that what works for one company can work for another.


    The word model has become a verb as well as a noun, as people realize that success patterns can be duplicated. However, the reason that some companies are more successful than others is that there is often more to the business model than meets the eye. Business is more of a culture than a system of practices, and there are many elements that are not easily copied.


    A groundbreaking book for understanding the business model is Business Model Generation, written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. This book puts all of the key elements of a business model on a single page, in a framework that the authors call the Business Model Canvas. The 9 building blocks of the canvas are what they call the Key Activities (KA), Key Partners (KP), Key Resources (KR), Customer Relationships (CR), Customer Segments (CS), Value Propositions (VP), Channels (CH), Cost Structure (CS), and Revenue Streams (RS).


    To demonstrate the universal applicability of the Business Model Canvas, the book features 470 practitioners from 45 countries, and looks at the models by which many familiar companies operate, such as Google, Apple, Skype, Proctor & Gamble,, and Nintendo. The book is attractively illustrated, and is promoted as “a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers” who want to go beyond outdated business models and build enterprises for tomorrow.


    Tim Clark, one of the editors and contributors to this book, has collaborated with the authors to produce a companion volume that applies the same canvas to individuals, recasting it as a one-page method for reinventing your career, released under the title, Business Model YOU, also published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This is more than a marketing ploy. It is a seriously fun look at the personal business model canvas, reframing it in terms that help you discover who you are, what you do, and how you interact with people in the workplace that defines your career.


    The book also looks at life beyond work, using a Wheel of Life exercise to visualize your life in 8 categories, only one of which is your career. And it includes a section on understanding your key personality tendencies and inclinations regarding work, which leads in a very different direction if you are conventional vs artistic, or enterprising vs realistic. The book is attractively designed and illustrated with examples of 328 people from 43 countries who have made successfully reinvented their careers.


    Unlike many books on career planning, this book also puts your career in the context of the enterprise you work for. That perspective can give you a strong advantage in communicating your value to the organization. There is a website where you can preview the book and gain access to a community of like-minded members, at


    There is even an iPad App called Business Model Toolbox, which contains many useful questions that help you fill in the canvas, working with all of the elements using virtual sticky notes, and also includes a calculator for projecting revenues and costs. The virtual canvas works equally well as a model for your business or for your career.


    While it is difficult enough to clone a company, it is nearly impossible to copy a career. The circumstances that go into one person's career path and success are so complex that even if you copied many of the outer elements, you will not get the same results. Nor would you want to.


    The Business Model Canvas focuses your mind on the process, not the characteristics of the career. It guides your intuition, and keeps your feet on solid ground. Whether you want to or have to make a career change, you will be much better off if you think about it proactively, rather than compromising with the status quo that you know. The Business Model Canvas makes you the artist and designer of your career.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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