Some business models and products have been around so long that we just take them for granted, while others concepts that are becoming new business models are so new that we’re not quite sure what to expect. It is probably easiest to explain what I mean and why this juxtaposition is important by looking at a few examples. Most of these examples involve challenging our orthodoxies.
1. Coffee Shops
In the typical coffee shop pretty much anywhere in the world, the business model works like this – you buy a coffee and it comes along with it the right to take up a place at any table in the café for as long as you want. So, coffee buys you time. An NPR article I came across highlights an entrepreneur in Moscow that has opened a restaurant that loosely translates to the Clockface Café,where instead of buying coffee and getting time, you instead buy time ($4/hr per person for the first hour and $2 an hour after that, up to a maximum of $12 after 5 hours) and get coffee for free. Ivan Meetin, the founder, plans to open his next café in London. Meanwhile I have heard of similar operations in Paris, and by now they can probably also be found elsewhere.
In your business what do people get for free, and what do they pay for? And is there an opportunity to change around what you charge for?
2. Waste Disposal
In many businesses, and in the creation of most products, there is waste. And in most cases, businesses pay to have this waste removed from their premises. Or there may be waste that the customer has to pay to have removed. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.
McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. used to have to pay to have their used fryer oil picked up, but now thanks to the rise of biodiesel they may even make money from this waste product. Broken OREO’s used to have no value before Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream (and now Cookies ‘n’ Cream OREO’s) were discovered.
Speaking of “trash,” I came across an example of a bottle cap concept created by designers from the Lanzhou University of Technology in China, intended to give poor children access to building blocks for play, from what was previously thrown away.
Is there anything in your business that you deem as waste that might be valuable to someone else, or even to your own business if you could determine an innovative way to re-use it?