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The Only Business Model: Individual Value

Mark Mzyk | April 16, 2008

I came across this article today: The Young Man’s Business Model.

It stuck me as being needed advice that most people can use, me included.  It highlights several points:

  • When you’re young, you brute force everything.  Literally, everything, until you finally get some experience and learn that there are other ways.
  • In business, brute force generally isn’t the best way to operate, like in almost everything else.

I’m now going to take a detour into the world of food, to illustrate my point.  In the food industry, brute forcing food equates to the fast food restaurants of the world.  Sure, you get your food at a cheap cost, but then, the food is also of a cheap quality.  I doubt any one who’s been lucky enough to enjoy a wide array of restaurants counts a fast establishment as the best food they’ve ever had.  It’s the nuances and subtly of fine restaurants that make them so good.  It’s that small hint of garlic hidden behind the herbs that make you remember the dish, along with the splash of wine that was added for flavor that you taste and don’t even realize what it is.

Business is just like food.  The good one’s take subtly and nuance to be successful and great.  However, it’s hard to scale that subtly and nuance to a large audience quickly.  The young man wants to reach everyone now.  The old man wants to reach one person now, and extend the value given to that one person to two people tomorrow, four the day after, and in five, ten years, everyone will be enjoying the value provided by the business.  Which of the two ways strikes you as the more likely to succeed?

I’m reminded about another article, this one about design: The Del.icio.us Lession.

The point of the del.icio.us lession: develop value for the individual user before trying to develop value for the network of users, as it is ultimately individual value that people want.

This links back to the first article: it’s all about building value, one customer at a time.  To be successful, you need to be singularly focused on giving value to one person (or one entity) at a time.  Reflect that drive to add value for the indivdual in all places of your business: from the design to the business plan.  If you don’t, you’re making the achievement of success much harder on yourself and your business.

P.S. Think this doesn’t apply to you because you work for someone else?  Think again.  Evaluate your place of work and see what value it’s adding for the indivual.  If the answer is none, you might want to examine what the business’ prospects are, because I’ll bet that you might be looking for a job sometime in the future.