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Letting Your Business Model Drift

William Buist

Business Mentor and Founder of the xTEN Club

Do you remember when you started your business? Surely you developed a business model for that purpose.

At that moment there is often real clarity about why.

Yet in time, customers ask for things that the business can do, but are not aligned with the business purpose. Their consistent requirements and sometimes the incapability to meet them makes one question the selected business model.

You do what your customer asks because you can and because it means you can make some money you might otherwise forego, the cornerstone of the business model developed.

Then another slightly different request arrives that takes things further away. A few years of that and the core purpose of the business can become confused, or even lost.

Does it matter? You are still making money after all. Or are you?

Business Model: Having A Clear Purpose

When I started my business we had a clear purpose, but ‘opportunities’ came along and over time that purpose shifted.

I found I was no longer working on things that gave me joy. My customers felt that I was no longer the ‘heart and mind’ behind their work and gradually they drifted away.

I began to analyse what actually happened and found that every business operates according to a set of protocols and practices that create value.

Those processes link knowledge, skills and experience of the people in the business teams, to their work.

That creates real value: value for customers that leads to an exchange of money for the goods and services that makes a real difference to them.

Business Model Alteration 

My mistake led me to develop a way of documenting and analysing the business model. It gives business owners real clarity about what they seek to do and to achieve.

A powerful business model is consistent and coherent. A well-designed strategy takes the business forward by purposefully designing a better business model for the future of the business.

I am not suggesting that a business that has evolved off-purpose is necessarily a bad business, but it is not the best business it could be.

Elements of it will be mediocre.

If we are being purposeful, mediocrity has no place.

Business Model Development Process

That is why reconnecting with your business model and its core identity is powerful.

Doing so requires being honest about some of the wrong turns taken along the way.

Use those mistakes to learn how to avoid repeating them, and creating a better future than the past.

As a result of learning how to understand my own business model made me much better at understanding and analysing how other models work.

The right questions to ask when given sufficient thought, really do provide insights to a business and can make a big difference.

Questions such as:

  • Why are you leading the business you are in?
  • What difference did you really want to make? To whom?
  • How will you know when you are working at your best?
  • Why is it you, specifically, that has to do that work?

Great mistakes often lead to the best innovations.


William Buist

Business Mentor and Founder of the xTEN Club

William is a strategy mentor for owner-led businesses in London and Bristol. His work unlocks sustainable profits and avoids costly mistakes for his clients to release them to make a more meaningful difference. William's lifetime of business experience works alongside yours to create successful collaborative teams along with a practical design of the operational model.

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