When in Doubt, Copy Someone Else’s Business Model

“When it comes to defining your business model, it’s best to copy somebody”, observes Guy Kawasaki.

If you are an entrepreneur yourself, you must know there is credence to this brilliant advice. Fine-tuning sale systems doesn’t come naturally to most of us (unless you have an MBA), not to mention it could be costly.

Hence, the solution to borrow a system from someone more experienced makes total sense. The only problem is–until you gain some business experience, you have no idea who is worth copying. But how do you gain experience without copying someone first? It is an ironic loop, which leaves you with heartburn a slight sense of derangement. In that state, you are in the frame of mind that acting blindly is better than acting at all.

And so, before I knew better, I blindly copied:

  1. A model for selling events for holistic practitioners (a miserable flop)
  2. A workshop model that didn’t work because I didn’t have the email list
  3. The retainer model, which was successful until scope creep swallowed me

And can we talk about the unpleasant, sneaky feeling of pretending? The hard truth is, when you are following someone else’s model of anything–making money, marketing, computational fluid dynamics, whatever–you don’t come out and say, hey I am duplicating this information because I have no process of my own and my limited trust in my own abilities is debilitating.

Of course not! What you do is you go out there and pretend that you’ve just stumbled upon the most genius invention since coffee liqueur, and you choose not to talk about it.

For me, it wasn’t until I fully understood our business identity as a branding agency that I found the perfect business model to adopt.

I knew the small agency me and my husband Bob owned needed a framework that speeds the delivery of cash. I missed my son’s childhood because I was busy writing proposals. And even after spending time answering questions and concerns, prospects proceeded to vanished into thin without as much as bidding us sayonara.

I also wanted to start offering brand strategy in addition to our graphic design services. Brand strategy has this charismatic aura: it is really hard to learn, and even harder to sell. And not due to it being Eucledean-Geometry level of hard, but because nobody teaches you how to do it. I certainly din’t learn brand strategy in college, nor did I grasped it from a real expert (brand experts hog information, this is so very maddening to me, but an entirely different conversation).

Until I met Pia Silva.

I took her whole model of brand strategy creation and lead product philosophy, two angels which turned the tides for my own business, and in the process I also learned…there are experts like her who dissect, explain, and unpack the process for you with full transparency, no bars held! Pia was unusually candid and accurate with her teaching.

Yes, you will have to pay with dollars and your own time for something like that.

But the rewards are the ability to double your rates and deliver enormous value for your clients. The only regret I have is that I didn’t meet Pia Silva earlier in my career.

But when I look back, I realize that the timing for adopting her systems was perfect for another reason.

Had I met Pia earlier, I wound’t have known what to do with her information as I didn’t quite know who I was. For a very long time, I was running my business as a graphic designer, but when I drilled deeper into myself, I knew I wanted to spend my time writing, not designing.

Did I have a clue how to turn from a visual designer into a brand strategist? Nope. But it was a threshold moment. Too bad Requiem for A Dream wasn’t in the air mark the occasion.

And I have to admit, while Pia’s model accommodated us in most respects, I still had to adjust it to our personality (which the model allowed for because it was flexible). And the work was hard. But finding out who I really was as a business owner and who I wasn’t was the real work.

Getting to the heart of your own identity will allow you to selectively adopt business models and systems that make sense for your goals.

Not to mention the byproduct of confidence.

See how confident I am with announcing Pia’s name? This is huge. After two years of being my secret weapon, she is now a real person in my article.

I am no longer Bogarting this gem for myself. Of course there are worse things than pretending, and hiding, and hogging information (like no coffee liquer in your house for the holidays?), but if you’re gonna do it, why not do it bravely?

Schedule a chat with me here if you need help digging into your business identity the brave way.

You can learn more about Pia’s method by going to https://www.nobsagencies.com/


Partner & Troublemaker, Bigfish Smallpond Design
Brave Brander and Salad Smarty

Come, follow me, and leave the world to its babblings:
LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook  

Scroll to top