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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib


When you light up a candle on earth you will get the typical yellow flame. What happens if you light the same candle in zero gravity space? You get a different result: a blue round flame with a bit of pink hue. In nature, the environment has a huge influence on the outcome of anything we do. The same can be applied on the business model level.

Business Model Environment Mapping

A common and recurring mistake I observe in the field: entrepreneurs design business models in vacuum. In other words, they design business models without considering the impact of the industry forces, market forces, key trends and the macroeconomic forces. These forces can positively/negatively influence your business model. You can't ignore it. As an entrepreneur, you can change your business model but you can only adapt to your business model environment.

There are some cases where a startup were able to revolt on the business model environment and force it to adapt to its business model. Example for that is the UBER case. They were able in the past 10 years to force the concept of ride sharing on the environment. But it came at the very heavy price of continuous daily challenges and millions of dollars spent on PR activities and lawyers.

Business model environment mapping is one of the most important activities you must conduct at least on quarterly basis. Use this analysis to make small iterations to your business model and constantly upgrade your strategy and on the ground activities. Many entrepreneurs make the common mistake of ignoring this critical activity.

So what happens when your business model environment offers you a drastic change like the corona virus spread?

The corona virus spread is an alarming situation with very strong ramifications on both the world economy and the health of the world’s populations.However, from an entrepreneurial point of view, it can offer great opportunities as well. It all depends on the nature of your startup and what your value proposition is.

In this article, I am sharing some thoughts about how some type of startups can actually benefit from the current conditions.

For digital content startups: One of the direct effects of the corona virus is the customer’s natural motivation to stay at home the most possible time. It will offer startups with digital content and entertainment oriented value propositions the great opportunity of acquiring customers at a lower/free costs, depending on the brand visibility. Already companies like Netflix are witnessing a growth of 12% in the number of subscribers in the past few weeks.

If your startup is in the domain of digital content like Netflix, Spotify, or any news and magazine site, you must take the opportunity to gain market traction and quickly acquire new customers with your content. My advice is that you tackle customers directly with special short term subscription offers. Remember, customer are currently naturally drawn to find something to keep them busy. They are motivated to find your product. Make it worth their while in terms of content interest and financial terms.

For delivery startups: As mentioned earlier, customers will be naturally inclined to stay home longer. A natural result for that is the rise in home delivery apps usage. If you are working in this domain, you need to focus your value proposition not on delivery but rather on “Assured clean” home delivery service for a small extra fees. Make sure to do the extra effort of explaining how you make the service clean and sanitized. The faster you do that, the quicker you will acquire the highly concerned customers who will be content to pay for that.

For robotics and drone tech startups: In the past few years, there is a rise in robotics and drone startups. The corona virus represent a great opportunity to transform all your R&D efforts into value in action. If there is ever a time to deploy robotics and drones on the streets with regulators willing to be more flexible about it, it is now.

Already in China, drones have been used to monitor streets and measure citizen temperatures remotely. Other applications can range from using robotics in hospitals to distributing meds to delivering critical supplies to citizens in their homes. Quickly modify the tech to go with a value proposition that better suits the critically needed tools in the corona virus battle.

There is no doubt in my mind that the current business model environment is challenging to say the least. By adapting your business model quickly to it, you can definitely find useful ways to sustain your startup and perhaps actually benefit from it. Your adaptation is critical for your survival. Work on it. Adapt.

Goodwill and Respect

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