I’ve spent a bunch of time getting to know folks in the startup community, and limited time working with startups.
The interesting thing I notice about a lot of startups, and especially people in the startup community who have not yet run a business, is that they tend to have some big fantasies about how a business can operate.
Namely, too many startup folks get obsessed with things like user base, and start operating on the assumption that if they get enough users for their (free) product, they’ll somehow have a business.
The startups, and businesses in general, that I see succeed are those with a clear revenue model in place.
I dug into my notes recently, and found a listing of 29 different revenue models you could apply in building your business.
Not all businesses are limited to one revenue model, but if you want to have a business, you should have at least one that you can use to generate a profit.
- Sell physical products. Sell online to consumers, sell offline to consumers, make products to sell wholesale to other businesses.
- Sell digital products. Audio, video, text, software, etc.
- Sell hourly services. Billed based on timed engagement or time performing service.
- Sell packaged or project-based services. Rather than hourly, deliverable is a project for a price.
- Sell vouchers for future product or service. This is the “gift certificate” business.
- Daily or flash deals. You build an audience and make regular offers to them.
- Content or software subscription. Software as a service (SAAS). Newsletters. Membership sites.
- Consumable product subscription. “Of the month club.” Cosmetics or supplements sold on recurring basis. New product arrives as previous is used.
- Usage fees. This is the “utility” business. Phones paid based on usage. Etc.
- Product rental. Cars, lodging, tools, etc.
- Licensed use of intellectual property. Create something, others pay to use it. Inventions, writing royalties, etc. Can be industry- or area-exclusive.
- Certification. Certify product, service, knowledge.
- Auction services. Conduct auctions for others.
- Auction platform. Think eBay.
- Dynamic pricing of service. Think AdWords, hotel/flight deal sites.
- Ad-supported publisher model. Can be print, online. Ads can be served using ad networks, direct sales, affiliate relationships.
- Promoted content. Publish free and paid content, use free content to promote paid content.
- Sponsored content. Free content is paid for by sponsors.
- Data gathering — get raw data.
- Data aggregation — cluster big trends.
- Data analysis — explain what trends mean, implications.
- Broker. Get leads, traffic, transactions, business deals for others. Connect buyer and seller.
- Enabler. “Pick and shovel” business. Process transactions, host website, etc.
- Affiliate platform. Connect advertisers with publishers.
- Marketplace. Centralized location where shoppers come and businesses can set up shop.
- Freemium. Offer widely-useful free service, higher-end paid version. Paid version can remove ads, remove restrictions, add features. Trial period can be version of freemium.
- Interest income. Make/broker loans and get paid while loan is outstanding.
- Asset management. Make money by managing others’ money.
- Insurance. Protect others from catastrophic loss, earn money from underwriting margin, and from “float” profits earned.
Obviously each of these are a lesson in themselves — and perhaps there are individual items here which really represent multiple models.
The idea of this list is to get you thinking.
What are all the different ways your business (current or future) can earn money?
Is there an offshoot of your current products or services that can add another revenue stream to your business?
Is there a complimentary revenue model that would provide your current customers more value, and you more profits in return?
One business I know started in the consumables subscription business… But quickly discovered that was a limited part of its total market opportunity, and succeeded by expanding into selling individual products online.
Another has a successful subscription business that brings customers in the door, but the real opportunity is in selling those customers physical products.
The list goes on.
There’s a ton of ways to make money. Pick one. Pick three. Whatever you can manage.
Just make sure that when you’re dreaming up your next big business idea that you do have at least one solid revenue model that you’re building it around.
Have a great weekend.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets