Business Model


A Business Model is a conceptual structure that supports the viability of a product or company and explains how the company operates, makes money, and how it intends to achieve its goals. All the business processes and policies that a company adopts and follows are part of the business model.Thus a business model is a description of the rationale of how a company creates, delivers and captures value for itself as well as the customer.

Using the principles of Design Thinking we can now develop our Business Model. Every business model intrinsically has three parts

– everything related to designing and manufacturing the product
– everything related to selling the product, from finding the right customers to distributing the product
– everything related to how the customer will pay and how the company will make money

Different Types of Business Models

There are different types of business models meant for different businesses. Some of the basic types of business models are:


A manufacturer makes finished products from raw materials. It may sell directly to the customers or sell it to a middleman i.e another business that sells it finally to the customer.  Examples – Ford, 3M, General Electric.
A distributor buys products from manufacturers and resells them to the retailers or the public. Examples – Auto Dealerships.
A retailer sells directly to the public after purchasing the products from a distributor or wholesaler. Examples  – Amazon, Tesco.
A franchise can be a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. Instead of creating a new product, the franchisee uses the parent business’s model and brand while paying royalties to it. Examples – McDonald’s, Pizza Hut.
Brick-and-mortar is a traditional business model where the retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers deal with the customers face-to-face in an office, a shop, or a store that the business owns or rents.


E-Commerce business model is an upgradation of the traditional brick-and-mortar business model. It focuses on selling products by creating a web-store on the internet.
A company that has both an online and offline presence allows customers to pick up products from the physical stores while they can place the order online. This model gives flexibility to the business since it is present online for customers who live in areas where they do not have brick-and-mortar stores. Examples – Almost all apparel companies nowadays.


In this model, the basic product provided to the customers is very cost-sensitive and hence priced as low as possible. For every other service that comes with it, a certain amount is charged. Examples – All low-cost air carriers.
This is one of the most common business models on the Internet. Companies offer basic services to the customers for free while charging a certain premium for extra add-ons. So there will be multiple plans with various benefits for different customers. Generally, the basic service comes with certain restrictions or limitations, such as in-app advertisements, storage restrictions etc., which the premium plans shall not have. For example, the basic version of Dropbox comes with 2 GB storage. If you want to increase that limit, you can move to the Pro plan and pay a premium of $9.99 a month for it. Some online image editors allow you to edit only a certain number of images in the free basic plan while an unlimited number of images in the paid plan. Youtube’s free plan comes with ads while the premium (Red) plan has no ad interruption plus it has other benefits too. This model is one of the most adopted models for online companies because it is not only a great marketing tool but also a cost-effective way to scale up and attract new users.


If customer acquisition costs are high, this business model might be the most suitable option. The subscription business model lets you keep customers over a long-term contract and get recurring revenues from them through repeat purchases. Examples – Netflix, Dollar Shave Club.
Aggregator business model is a recently developed model where the company various service providers of a niche and sell their services under its own brand. The money is earned as commissions. Examples – Uber, Airbnb, Oyo.

Online Marketplace

Online marketplaces aggregate different sellers into one platform who then compete with each other to provide the same product/service at competitive prices. The marketplace builds its brand over different factors like trust, free and/or on-time home delivery, quality sellers, etc. and earns commission on every sale carried on its platform. Examples – Amazon, Alibaba.


Advertisement business models are evolving even more with the rise of the demand for free products and services on the internet. Just like the earlier times, these business models are popular with media publishers like Youtube, Forbes, etc. where the information is provided for free but are accompanied with advertisements which are paid for by identified sponsors.

Data Licencing / Data Selling

With the advent of the internet, there has been an increase in the amount of data generated upon the users’ activities over the internet. This has led to the advent of a new business model – the data licencing business model. Many companies like Twitter and Onesignal sell or licence the data of its users or users of users to third parties which then use the same for analysis, advertising, and other purposes.


An agency can be considered as a partner company which specialises in handling the non-core business activities like advertising, digital marketing, PR, ORM,

This company partners with several other companies that outsource their non-core tasks to them and is responsible to maintain privacy and efficiency in their work. Examples of such agencies are Ogilvy & Mathers, Dentsu Aegis Network, etc.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing business model is a commission-based model where the affiliate builds its business around promoting a partner’s product and directs all its efforts to convince its followers and users to buy the same. In return, the affiliate gets a commission for every sale referred. An example of a business operating on affiliate marketing business model is


Dropshipping is a type of e-commerce business model where the business owns no product or inventory but just a store. The actual product is sold by partner sellers who receive the order as soon as the store receives an order from the ultimate customer. These partner sellers then deliver the products directly to the customer.

Network Marketing

Network marketing or multi-level marketing involves a pyramid structured network of people who sell a company’s products. The model runs on a commission basis where the participants are remunerated when –
They make a sale of the company’s product.
Their recruits make a sale of the product.
Network marketing business model works on direct marketing and direct selling philosophy where there are no retail shops but the offerings are marketed to the target market directly by the participants. The market is tapped by making more and more people part of the pyramid structure where they make money by selling more goods and getting more people on board.


Crowdsourcing business model involves the users to contribute to the value provided. This business model is often combined with other business and revenue models to create an ultimate solution for the user and to earn money. Examples of businesses using the crowdsourcing business model are Wikipedia, reCAPTCHA, Duolingo, etc.

Peer 2 Peer Catalyst/Platform

A P2P economy is a decentralized internet-based economy where two parties interact directly with each other to buy or sell goods or to conduct a transaction without the intervention of any third party. A P2P catalyst is a platform where these users meet. Examples of P2P platforms are Craigslist, OLX, Airbnb etc.


The Blockchain is an immutable, decentralized, digital ledger. It is a digital database that no one owns but anyone can contribute to. Many businesses are taking this decentralised route to develop their business models. Models based on blockchain are not owned or monitored by a single entity. Rather, they work on peer-to-peer interactions and record everything on a digital decentralized ledger.


Many companies have started offering their software, platform, and infrastructure as a service. The ‘as a service’ business model works on the principle of pay as you go where the customer pays for his usage of such software, platform, and infrastructure; he pays for what and how many features he has used and not for what he hasn’t.

High Touch

The High Touch model is one which requires lots of human interaction. The relationship between the salesperson and the customer has a huge impact on the overall revenues of the company. The companies with this business model operate on trust and credibility. Examples – Hair salons, consulting firms.

Low Touch

The opposite of the High Touch model, the Low Touch model requires minimal human assistance or intervention in selling a product or service. Since as a company, you do not have to maintain a huge sales force, your costs decrease, though such companies also focus on improving technology to further reduce human intervention while making the customer experience better at the same time. Examples – Ikea, SurveyMonkey.

Of course, most companies do not operate on any one of these business models but rather on a combination of some. Like it is perfectly possible for you to be a Bricks-and-clicks Low Touch Retailer or a High Touch Subscription-Based Manufacturer. What business model you choose depends on your business needs and what value you want to create for your stakeholders.

A business model with Societal Impact

The Forprofit Social Enterprise Is The Impact Model Of The Future
Contrary to popular belief, profitability and positive social impact are not mutually exclusive. It is, in fact, possible to build a successful company and do good.

A “forprofit social enterprise” bakes social impact mission directly into its business model. Doing good is the core of the business, not just something that happens along the way. For a social enterprise, growth is a means to greater impact.

The forprofit social impact model is the model of the future. There are four reasons why:

1. First, as a forprofit business, a social enterprise is more sustainable than a nonprofit organization that must rely on grant money, donations or federal programs alone. As a for-profit model, you control your own density.

2. Second, a forprofit business can scale in ways other organizations cannot. The incentives of the company are designed such that greater impact directly correlates to a great profit.

3. Third, customers, investors and business partners today want to know that the companies they choose are doing more than just providing a product or service. They look for companies that are doing good. They will feel a special connection to companies whose values align with their own.

4. Fourth, social impact companies have an advantage in hiring and retaining staff. Top job candidates weigh many things when deciding where to take their skills. Salary alone is not enough. They seek companies whose values and goals align with their own.

Social enterprises don’t happen accidentally. They require planning and commitment. New companies can get it right from the start.

Established companies can transition over time. Either way, it turns out, “doing the right thing” may be the best business decision you ever make for your company.

What Makes A Social Enterprise Effective?

Effective social enterprises like these share a few common characteristics:
• A social enterprise chooses a big problem. Social impact companies don’t think small. They start with something big like the environment, healthcare, equity or underserved populations, and figure out how they can make a big difference. A company that aims low and thinks small might exceed expectations, but if it comes up short, the low bar means it will miss even lower. A social impact company that aims for something truly big might come up short, but there is a lot of room to do good short of a lofty goal.

• A social enterprise tracks the bottom line. It measures success based on business/financial metrics as well as social metrics. Most nonprofits do good while losing money. They care only about impact. Many corporations make money without actually doing much good. Each cares about one bottom line: impact or profits. In contrast, a social impact company sets goals for its impact priorities in the same way it does for sales and marketing. It tracks both bottom lines. The best ones share their experiences framing and tracking objectives so that others can learn from their successes and failures.

• A social enterprise focuses on a single mission. It identifies a single core goal within the big problem and builds that into its mission statement. That goal becomes part of the company’s DNA and informs every decision.
Large or small, social enterprises that focus on building a successful forprofit company can change the world for the better. And the businesses that truly change the world are the businesses that last.

A business model with Environmental Impact

When it comes to sustainability, good enough isn’t good enough. For businesses to achieve longevity, they require a planet that can sustain them.
Acting on this belief will challenge enterprises to transform their operations in ways that support and invest in our natural world.

A business model inspired by nature asserts that it is no longer enough to neutralize harm; instead we must create systemic change that benefits all.

This can only begin by inviting businesses, governments, organizations and citizens to work together towards the common goal of creating a sustainable future. We must hold each other mutually accountable for making progress at the pace our planet requires.

Best-practice partnerships are emerging that offer innovative business models to follow.

Developing new economic models

As consumers become more aware of the environmental implications of their purchases, global brands are also working harder to address climate impacts across their supply chains.

Beyond carbon footprint reductions, companies are beginning to work with local partners to drive new economic models.