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The Difference Between Business Ideas and Business Models

Be bold, not bland.

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BY Michael E. Gerber - 27 Apr 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Let's be brutally honest for a moment, shall we?

If you are seeking the life of an entrepreneur - the ups and downs, the incredible amount of sweat equity, and the personal sacrifices that are all hallmarks of creating a business - and you don't have an idea that is bigger and bolder than all that has ever come before it...

Don't do it.

All the work, all the time, all the energy you expend in the creation of a subpar enterprise will be disappointing in nearly every way imaginable.

Think about it like a fine dinner - carefully selecting the best ingredients at the grocery store and hours of preparation to only end up with a bowl of undercooked oatmeal. There is far too much at stake in building your own great growing company to create something underwhelming, and yet hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women seek out that as a course of action every day.

The success lies not in the business idea, but in the business model.

The determination to start a business is where the germination of the business idea lies. This is the point at which entrepreneurs or business owners are born. I would daresay that the entrepreneur's idea is bigger, bolder, and blinding in its intensity whereas the business owner merely wants to create a job for themselves.

The business idea was to create personal technology to be used with radical new means of delivery.

The business model grew into Apple.

The business idea was to create a turnkey system to employ minimum wage employees to serve quickly prepared food.

The business model grew into McDonalds.

Or, on the other side, the business idea was to use a knowledge of accounting and own a business.

The business model was never grown and you never heard of the company because it failed.

See the difference? When you seek to change the world, you can create your own space. When you seek to merely fit in, you have to jostle with everyone else in a crowded market.

Now, that isn't to say that any business model can be embraced and is a sure-fire recipe for success. There is no replacement for due diligence and determination in the idea and your own burning desire to do it better than it has ever been done before. There is also no excuse for failing to properly design the model that the idea will follow.

When you have seized upon that idea and carefully honed it to perfection, the next step, as you begin to build and comprehend the actual business model must be the plain realization that whatever it is that you seek to provide to your customer or market (and those terms are not synonymous) must be provided in a way that successfully differentiates you from all the competition that is or will be.

Your customer - the day-to-day man or woman that gives you money for your product or service - is only your customer because of the result that your business gives them.

If your product, service, or brand doesn't stand out and produce the incredible results that you thought it should, then you have to understand that the model you built is not up to the task. A great idea may still turn into a failure due to a poorly executed model. A great idea coupled with a great model will change the world.