Are you looking to discover new opportunities in life and career? If you haven’t had the chance to do so, taking the time to do some structured reflection is a great way to start off the year.

While many tools can help you do this, creating your personal business model using the Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a great way to discover new opportunities in your life and career.

For those familiar with it, the BMC is a simple yet powerful tool used by businesses to discover optimal ways to create and deliver value to the customers they identify. Originally created by Alexander Osterwalder, this tool evolved to help individuals create a personal business model to define their purpose and values, inventory their skills and competencies, and chart a path for growth. You might want to check out the book Business Model You by Tim Clark in collaboration with Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

Here is a version of the Personal Business Model Canvas:

The Personal Business Model Canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analyzing the Personal Business Model Canvas

The BMC is based on a canvas divided into nine blocks: Key Partners, Key Activities, Key Resources, Value Proposition, Customer Relationships, Customer Segment, Channels, Cost Structure, and Revenue Streams. Its power comes from the opportunity to create a concise model on one page thereby making it easier to make connections between the various elements. The following highlights each block of the personalized Business Model Canvas:

  1. Key Partners: Who are your key collaborators, suppliers, vendors within and outside your organization? Who will help you?
  2. Key Activities: What do you do? What are the most important, significant activities you do? Taking stock of these will also help you see which ones you should prioritize or at least begin to reflect on the ones to prioritize, reduce or abandon for the sake of focus.
  3. Key Resources: What are your key resources? Include tangible and intangible assets such as certifications, investments, knowledge, certifications, soft skills, and so on.
  4. Value Proposition: What do you have to offer? What’s your uniqueness? Why should anyone hire you or do business with you? Take stock of your skills, competencies, and abilities. Find the edge you have, create a short statement.
  5. Customer Relationships: How do you interact with your customers? Phone calls, email, chat? Virtual meetings, newsletters, blog posts, or articles? How will your customers reach you when they need you?
  6. Channels: Through what platforms do you work or serve your customers–people, groups, or organizations?
  7. Customer Segment: Who are the people you serve? You may be an employee but you need to know the people who benefit from your work directly and indirectly, for example, the people your work affects. If you are a business leader, founder, or freelancer, this becomes even clearer.
  8. Cost Structure: What are the most significant things you spend money on? Determining these will lead to reviewing how to manage or streamline your expenses efficiently. What do you give?
  9. Revenue Streams: How will you make money? Salary, commissions, wages, royalties, sales income? Determine the activities tied directly to generating income for you.

 

The Benefits of Creating Your Personal Business Model

  • Creating your personal business model helps to pause to review your life’s progress
  • It provides a concise status report and inventory of your life and career
  • Your business model helps you to identify gaps between your current and ideal models of life and career
  • It offers an opportunity to identify potential growth areas and the impetus to begin to live and work more intentionally based on your discoveries

 

How To Create Your Personal Business Model

You can create your personal business model today by taking this simple but powerful exercise using the BMC. Ultimately, the idea is to create two models, the first of your current status: your key partners, resources, activities, and so on. The second model will be your vision of the future, based on the identified gaps and growth areas, a model of your ideal life and career. Finally, you will enumerate the action steps you need to take to move from where you are to where you want to be.

These are the steps again:

  1. Create your current personal business model
  2. Create your future or ideal personal business model
  3. Identify the gaps or changes you want to make
  4. List the action steps you need to achieve your goal(s)
  5. Go for it!

Let’s see this personal BMC in action.

 

An Example of a Personal Business Model

Here is an example of a fictional character John’s personal business model:

A. John’s Current Personal Business Model:

John's Current Personal BMC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. John’s Ideal or Future Personal Business Model

John's Ideal or Future Personal BMC

 

 

 

Your Turn Now

What will you do next? Take the next steps to create your personal BMC. Start working on the elements you have identified. Be more intentional as you act regarding all various aspects.

For instance, our fictional professional will probably have some of these:

  • Take software development courses
  • Sign up for a business course
  • Learn more about blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  • Start a social enterprise

Are you curious to have a go at creating your own personal business model? We promise it will be an amusing exercise at the very least, but it might just jumpstart a revolution in the way you think about yourself and your career.

You may download and print the template or create yours. You may also visit the Business Model You website to download a copy (requires joining the online community). Record your responses in each block as you discover new opportunities for your life and career.


If you are a leader tasked with delivering innovation, your job is to guide your team or organization to discover and develop new ideas in order to deliver value to clients and customers. This note serves to remind you of some key elements you can put in place as you and your team prepare to do amazing things in the days ahead.

 

Welcome All Ideas, from Everyone

First, appreciate ideas for their own sake. It’s a good sign. Why? It tells you people are thinking, it tells you that they are invested in accomplishing results. Now ideas may be great, good, bad, or even stupid but that’s of secondary importance. Ideas are dynamic.

You can influence the quality of ideas showing up within the team by taking certain measures. We will see some of those below. Again, bad ideas in one context can become great ones in another. Ask everyone to pitch in, not just as an assignment but as a habit. 

 

Plant Idea Seeds

You do this by cultivating a culture and work environment where learning is centerstage, where it is celebrated. This is how to shape the ideas coming from your team. Support professional learning opportunities as well as non-work-related learning experiences.

You can employ courses, workshops, books, events, mentoring sessions. Do what you can to expose your people to the best learning experiences. You are seeding their minds with data and information that will birth new ideas and idea connections that will bring forth innovation.

 

Create A Healthy Environment

Foster a culture of empathy, mutual respect, and collaboration. Lead by relating to people as individuals, not just employees. This requires more effort than treating them as contracted employees earning salaries or commissions, but it creates important connections, to varying degrees.

Two things happen when you do this: 1, the connection you create leads to better communication, and understanding of roles and expectations. 2, You set a model for communication and interaction among the team, the trust and mutual respect spread across the team creating a web of engagement and goodwill. Remember, an idea may come from one person, but the resulting innovation is usually due to teamwork.

 

Applaud Innovation — and Effort and Improvement

Recognize and reward innovation whether it be the huge, revenue-generating idea or a cost-saving one as simple as reducing power consumption or paper or toner usage. In the same vein, recognize and reward effort and risk-taking, too — within the borders of the organization’s objectives, ethical or regulatory requirements. As Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson said in The One Minute Manager, “Catch them doing something right.”

Conversely, avoid blaming and shaming, whether in private or in public. Where someone falls short, guide them to learn from such events, emphasize learning from such events. They are opportunities for both individual and organizational learning and growth.

 

Allow Change

Many leaders solicit ideas, even celebrate them, and yet prefer to maintain the status quo. The joy isn’t in the applause, people embrace the call to innovate because they want to see actual results and are frustrated when they don’t get the support they expect.

What do you do with the ideas people bring to you? How many ideas have you run with or investigated in the last year? Allow change. Take them as experiments, small bets with support and resources within the bounds of the organization’s budget. Who knows, they just might turn out to be the future of your organization.

 

Communication plays a huge role in innovation. 

It also involves listening. Communicate the team’s or organization’s vision and goals and be open to contributions from the un-usual suspects: seek out perspectives and opinions from the quietest people, from the rebels, from non-management staff.

Create a system for eliciting feedback on the organization’s most important goals and aspirations from the rank and file. A suggestion box might be useful, or an email address, or an app. Choose what works best for your organization.

So, remember to welcome all ideas, promote a learning culture and a healthy working environment, celebrate innovation and effort, and be willing to support the new ideas for innovation.