On the one hand, it’s soooo much easier to build a business when you have a blueprint to follow. Not to mention how it’s human nature to be wary of change, so if you can follow in someone else’s footsteps and build a similar business, it doesn’t feel as risky. (Right?)
And let’s not forget the steep learning curve we encounter any time we try something new (like start a business).
So it makes perfect sense to follow a proven model to make sure we’re building our business correctly … doesn’t it?
Well, yes. All of that is true. And quite honestly, this isn’t meant to be a knock against following proven business models. In many ways, it’s smart to model success.
But, for every “plus,” there’s also a “minus,” and in my experience, the minuses around following a proven business model aren’t talked about.
So, let’s take a moment and look at two reasons you just might want to step off the “proven business model” beaten path to strike off on your own.
1. You could end up building a business that isn’t right for you. I’ve shared this in many articles on this blog (Shawn Driscoll’s excellent Love-Based Business Models book goes into this in-depth, as well) because I think this is a major problem in the online business industry.
It’s easier now than ever to start a business. Which, again, is great news … UNTIL you end up with a bunch of entrepreneurs who are slowly dying … trapped in businesses they can’t stand.
By and large, that happens as a result of entrepreneurs investing in a program, mastermind, or mentor who tells them to build their business on a “proven” business model.
While that can work, it does depend on your definition of “works.”
Sure, in many cases (if the entrepreneur sticks with it), they make money. But it typically comes with a high cost—resenting (or even hating) what they built.
That’s why I think it’s SO important to get clear on the type of business that is right for you BEFORE you start following a proven business model.
(Shawn’s book comes with an assessment to help you pinpoint the right business model for you, which you might want to check out.)
2. You could struggle needlessly to stand out and attract clients.
When you’re following a “proven” business model, there’s a high probability that lots of other entrepreneurs are also following that same “proven” business model.
Which means it’s going to get awfully crowded in the marketplace.
Unless you’re the first business in a new industry or marketplace.
Not only would it then be MUCH easier to stand out, to build your credibility and your visibility, but it’s also going to help you be seen as a leader.
After all, if you’re first, you’re pretty much defining “leader.”
And there are a lot more benefits to being first in an industry. Of course, there’s a giant old obstacle here—how can you possibly be first in anything NOW? The entire online business industry is saturated. Hasn’t that whole “first in the industry” ship sailed?
Well … not necessarily.
You see, this is where innovation comes into play.
How can you innovate an existing industry in order to make it fresh and new?
Here are a few things to look at:
- Can you put two markets together to create a third? My good friend and business coach Andrea J. Lee calls this “peanut-butter cup” innovation—combining two previously separate markets together to create something fresh and new.
I’ll give you an example of how this would work:
I’m starting a publishing company (Love-Based Publishing) which combines book publishing with book marketing.
There are many, many book coaches, editors, and online courses that will help you publish a book. There are also many online courses and agencies that will help you market your book once it’s published, but there really isn’t much out there that combines the two. (What happens with traditional publishing is close, but even traditional publishing wants the author to do much of the promotion, and rarely will publishers do much of anything with older books.)
Here’s the link if you want to read more about this opportunity.
- Can you put a fresh spin on an established industry? My friend Joanna Lindenbaum is taking the coaching industry by storm by “training the trainer.” Her business is designed to improve coaching skills while utilizing tools not previously considered a “standard” of coaching, such as rituals.
- Can you bring an existing industry to a new client base? Take coaching, for instance. Is there a market out there that doesn’t have coaches? (Hard to believe, but it’s totally possible.) Or maybe there’s a market of people who want to make money doing something (such as teaching horse owners how to be better at dressage), so they need coaches to teach them how to build a business around what they love. (One caveat here is that sometimes, the reason there isn’t already an existing market in an area is because there’s no demand for it. It’s always wise to do your due diligence and research before jumping into a new industry.)
- Can you provide a “fix” for something in your current industry and build a business around it? That’s precisely what my new publishing company is doing. Over and over, I see entrepreneurs publish a book only to have it gather dust on a lonely Amazon bookshelf. If you want your book to be successful, you need a plan to consistently promote it—but most entrepreneurs don’t have the time. That’s not an issue for a book in my Love-Based Business series.
There’s always room for something new and fresh in the marketplace, even if it feels like everything has been “done before.” In fact, offering something fresh and new is a good way to ensure you DON’T feel like you’re drowning in an overcrowded marketplace.
I have an entire series of Love-Based Business books if you’d like to dig into this topic more deeply.
This is what I’ve done, but which I haven’t found the best way to market yet. I’ve started from the base of being a Professional Organiser, but moved out from there because I’m interested in how decluttering principles can be applied beyond stuff to social issues and the wider environment. And, yes — I’m still evolving the best business model for that!