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The 7 Elements of a Strong Business Model Envisioning the many moving parts of a functioning business is the first step to success.

By Larry Alton

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Creating a business model isn't simply about completing your business plan or determining which products to pursue. It's about mapping out how you will create ongoing value for your customers.

Where will your business idea start, how should it progress, and when will you know you've been successful? How will you create value for customers? Follow these simple steps to securing a strong business model.

1. Identify your specific audience.

Targeting a wide audience won't allow your business to hone in on customers who truly need and want your product or service. Instead, when creating your business model, narrow your audience down to two or three detailed buyer personas. Outline each persona's demographics, common challenges and the solutions your company will offer. As an example, Home Depot might appeal to everyone or carry a product the average person needs, but the company's primary target market is homeowners and builders.

Related: The Science of Building Buyer Personas (Infographic)

2. Establish business processes.

Before your business can go live, you need to have an understanding of the activities required to make your business model work. Determine key business activities by first identifying the core aspect of your business's offering. Are you responsible for providing a service, shipping a product or offering consulting? In the case of Ticketbis, an online ticket exchange marketplace, key business processes include marketing and product delivery management.

3. Record key business resources.

What does your company need to carry out daily processes, find new customers and reach business goals? Document essential business resources to ensure your business model is adequately prepared to sustain the needs of your business. Common resource examples may include a website, capital, warehouses, intellectual property and customer lists.

4. Develop a strong value proposition.

How will your company stand out among the competition? Do you provide an innovative service, revolutionary product or a new twist on an old favorite? Establishing exactly what your business offers and why it's better than competitors is the beginning of a strong value proposition. Once you've got a few value propositions defined, link each one to a service or product delivery system to determine how you will remain valuable to customers over time.

Related: How to Develop and Evaluate Your Startup's Value Proposition

5. Determine key business partners.

No business can function properly (let alone reach established goals) without key partners that contribute to the business's ability to serve customers. When creating a business model, select key partners, like suppliers, strategic alliances or advertising partners. Using the previous example of Home Depot, key business partners may be lumber suppliers, parts wholesalers and logistics companies.

6. Create a demand generation strategy.

Unless you're taking a radical approach to launching your company, you'll need a strategy that builds interest in your business, generates leads and is designed to close sales. How will customers find you? More importantly, what should they do once they become aware of your brand? Developing a demand generation strategy creates a blueprint of the customer's journey while documenting the key motivators for taking action.

7. Leave room for innovation.

When launching a company and developing a business model, your business plan is based on many assumptions. After all, until you begin to welcome paying customers, you don't truly know if your business model will meet their ongoing needs. For this reason, it's important to leave room for future innovations. Don't make a critical mistake by thinking your initial plan is a static document. Instead, review it often and implement changes as needed.

Keeping these seven tips in mind will lead to the creation of a solid business plan capable of fueling your startup's success.

Related: 5 Strategies for Generating Consumer Demand

Larry Alton

Freelance Writer & Former Entrepreneur

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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