Once upon a time, Emily was on her way to meet up with some friends at a local rock bar. As she walked down the street, the sound of guitars and drums beckoned her closer.
She walked in and was immediately transported back in time: a dim room, neon glow, and the smell of leather and hairspray filling her nostrils. The band was playing "Walk This Way" and a full slate of classic 80's rock. As the band played on, Emily let herself fantasize about being on stage, playing her heart out to a crowd of adoring fans. She'd played guitar all her life, but never really did anything with it.
"Maybe it's time." She thought to herself.
Emily began working to launch her rock music career. Hair teased to the sky, the leather pants, and blazing guitar skills that would put Eddie Van Halen to shame. She was a little rusty, but it all came back quickly. She went to open mics, talent showcases, and started connecting with other musicians. Still, despite her passion and dedication, launching wasn't as easy as she'd hoped. She sounded like every other 80's rocker and - let's face it - there's not as much demand as there once was for 80's rockers (sad face)!
After one showcase, one of the featured artists shared with Emily the secret to her success: "It's not just about the music, kid," she says. "It's about your values and your vision. It's about who you are, why you do what you do, and your audience. And of course, it's about having a killer sound that sets you apart from the rest."
Emily takes this advice to heart and re-evaluates her approach to building her band. She starts by looking inward and examining her own values and vision for her music. Who is she as an artist? Why does she want to create this type of music? Who does she want to connect with through her music? With a clear sense of purpose and direction, Emily is able to attract other like-minded musicians who share her values and vision.
Together, they work on developing a sound that's fresh and unique, but still true to their roots. They experiment with different instruments, lyrics, and melodies until they land on something that feels right. And with each rehearsal and performance, they continue to refine their sound and their message.
Eventually, Emily's band catches the attention of a record label, and they're offered a contract to record their first album. But even with this newfound success, Emily never loses sight of her values and vision. She remains true to herself and her music, and continues to connect with fans who share her passion and love for 80's rock.
While Emily might be a fictional character, the lesson still holds: building a successful business is about more than just the product or service you offer. It's about understanding your values and vision, identifying your target audience, and creating a unique and compelling message that sets you apart from the competition.
THAT is what makes up your business model. I know. Saying that might just make your eyes glaze over, but hear me out. If you're tired of feeling like your business doesn't align with your unique values and vision, the problem is likely your business model. If you feel like your business doesn't truly reflect who you are and what you stand for, the answer probably lies in your business model.
In short, if you don't have the time, the income, the freedom, the reach, the alignment, or ease that you thought you'd get from your business... then chances are good there's something amiss in your business model!
Like it or not, if you're bringing in any revenue at all, you already have a business model. It may or may not be profitable. It may or may not be sustainable. Being intentional about your business model allows you to have a business that works with your natural abilities instead of against them. And I believe everyone can have a business that works for how you're wired to work.
The way we do that here at Creative Freedom HQ is through the Creative Freedom Business Model Equation.
Business Models For Creative Entrepreneurs
You Linear Creatives are already salivating, I know. But, this isn't a traditional mathematical equation. It's part art and part science, so Chaotics and Fusions can have some fun, too! The Creative Freedom Business Model Equation helps you define the various elements of your business model based on a few factors - including your unique values and vision.
The equation is simple: (You + Why + Who) + What + How
Let's break it down.
The Creative Freedom Business Model Equation is a set of flexible "pieces" that tell the story of how your business creates value in the world. There are plenty of tools to help you design business models in the world, but most of them are unwieldy and complicated. Based on the Strategyzer business model canvas, our business model equation is a straightforward, easy to understand way for micro-business owners to approach business model design.
The Creative Freedom Business Model Equation Explained
You probably noticed that the first part of the equation is in parentheses. That indicates the "internal" part of the business model. The part of doing business that is most directly impacted by your values and beliefs - much of which is internal to your company and not on public display. The second part of the equation is your offer. That's the part that the public gets to see and interact with regularly. You offer is both the "what" you're selling and "how" you're delivering it.
Now, let's take a closer look at each piece of the equation.
Who are you, really? What matters to you as a person? It's important to understand your context and constraints in order to design a business that works for how you're uniquely wired. We take a 360-degree view of the entrepreneur to truly understand what you're all about and what you can realistically bring to the table, considering your circumstances. Ask yourself things like:
- What do I value most in life?
- What impact do I want to personally have?
- What's going on for me that could limit my ability to work?
- What does success really look like for me?
This is often the hardest part, because you have to unpack the layers of stuff that come from "shoulding" on yourself, and get to what's really true. It's important to take the time to deeply reflect on these questions and come up with genuine answers that align with what's true for you. Once you have a clear understanding of your values and vision, you can move on to the next step.
This is about your motivations and your vision for the future. If you've read Simon Sinek's book, Start With Why, this may feel familiar. Simon's position is that people "don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." This is all about purpose and mission. Understanding your "why" and communicating it helps the right people connect. By creating resonance with your audience, you'll attract more of the right people with greater ease. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did you choose this line of entrepreneurship?
- What makes you qualified to do it?
- Why does the world need what you offer?
- What change do you want to see in the world?
This is about your audience - or primary audience, if you serve multiple audiences. Who are you here to serve? By identifying your core audience, your messaging can speak directly to those folks. There's nothing for sale in this world that's meant for everyone. And that's the way it's supposed to be. There are people already primed and ready - excited even - to experience the that thing that you offer. Why waste your energy chasing everyone when your right audience is "already ready already"? Ask yourself questions like:
- What kind of people are already on board with what you're about?
- What do my best clients have in common?
- Who gets the best results from what I offer?
- Who do I ADORE working with?
- Who makes it easy for me?
- Who do I make it easy for?
Your offer is made up of both the "What" and the "How" - which we'll talk more about in a minute. The "What" is all about what you're selling. This is the transformation, not just the object. It's not just a pair of socks, it's warm feet. It's more than a song, it's a sense of belonging. It's the thing, but it's also the end result of experiencing that thing.
As a business coach, I sell tools for business growth. But at a deeper level, what I really sell are things like self-worth, confidence, peace of mind, and clarity. Because when your business is growing in ways that work for how you're wired to work, you feel more confident, you've got clarity on what to do, and peace of mind that things are working. That all contributes to your sense of self-worth.
As you're thinking about what you sell, ask yourself:
- What is the end result my clients get from my work?
- What is the change they hope to see from my offer?
- How do I make my client's life better?
The second part of your offer is the the "How" - the delivery mechanism. You can offer the same "What" in different ways. When I wrote my book, Creative Freedom, we made it available as an audiobook, a digital book, and a physical edition. I've also extracted parts of the book for some of the training I do. Same "What" - the knowledge and information - delivered with a different "How".
Different delivery methods may come with different pricing, so we put that inside the "How" as well. Consider different delivery methods and pricing models to find the best fit for your business and your audience. As you're looking at this final piece of the Equation, ask yourself questions like this:
- How are you delivering your offer?
- What's the pricing?
- What are you asking for in return for the delivery of this offer?
- What are the different possible ways I can combine these elements - that will also work for me and my best audience?
When you put it all together, the Creative Freedom Business Model Equation is flexible and only limited by your answers. By aligning your business with your unique values and vision, you'll create a business that truly reflects who you are and what you stand for.
Aligning Your Business Model with Your Values and Vision
With a clear understanding of your unique values and vision, and a defined business model based on the Equation, you can now operate and make choices from a more aligned starting point. Look for areas where things can be re-aligned with your business model to create a more authentic and fulfilling experience for both you and your customers.
For example, if one of your values is sustainability, you might look for ways to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your business model, such as using recycled materials or reducing your carbon footprint. Or, if your ultimate vision is to create a positive impact on your community, you might explore ways to give back or donate a portion of your profits to a local charity.
Testing and Refining Your Business Model
Once you have things in alignment, it's important to test it out and see how it works in the real world. You will evolve over time, so it's important to go back and review your business model from time to time, to make sure everything is working effectively, profitably, and sustainably for you. If it's not, it's time for a review!
In April, I'm leading a business model workshop to help you work through the Creative Freedom Business Model Equation and apply it to your business. I call it the Cashflow Creator Workshop because I know that only Linears get excited about business models - but everyone wants better cashflow! Seats are limited, so if you're ready to take the first step towards creating a business that truly resonates with you and your audience, join us! Can't wait to see you there!