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225 of 237 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 9, 2010
This book is very different as a business book. Instead of being filled with dense, usually overly wordy pages, it is beautifully laid out, the wording is kept to a minimum, and there are lots of illustrations.

The book is focused on ways to think of the model for your business... with some nice guidelines for structuring the thought process... as well as a bunch of examinations of different types of businesses.

It has good discussions on thinking through what is critical for the business, where the cost structures are, where the benefits are, and how to organize and present those ideas.

It also has a number of cases studies of various companies that changed or invented new business models, such as Amazon's introduction of Web Services.

The book is fast to read, and there were several sections I bookmarked to put into use in my company, which to me is always a good sign for a book.

Where the book is lacking is that I would really have liked more case studies -- a bit more meat so to speak -- once a company came up with the new model, how did the artifacts of the book's discussions come into play with the execution? Did any of the techniques discussed help with the inevitable pitfalls associated? What are some case studies for when people tried the techniques discussed and failed miserably? Innovator's Dilemma, by comparison, does a much better look at both positive and negative case studies, which can provide a lot more learning.

I also would have liked more depth on the blue ocean discussion.

Altogether though, an interesting read and a good addition to my management book shelf.
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126 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
"Business Model Generation" is a breezy read and a well-organized introduction to several related topics including: basic types of business models, techniques and strategies for generating ideas and thinking creatively about them, along with process steps for moving good ideas forward. But the promising title makes it sound like this is a more substantive resource than it really is.

PROS: Anyone new to these topics would likely have to read four to six separate books to get the broad coverage you'll find here. The authors have done a service for folks who want to come up to speed more quickly. I felt that I came away with some useful info in most of the chapters and each has additional references for further reading. The designers also deserve some credit for a creative and varied layout that makes the text seem fresher. Plus, you can feel good about yourself as you plow through 50+ pages in half an hour without fatigue. The bonus: this is a business book that won't have you drowning in business jargon.

CONS: As several reviewers have noted, there's breadth here but not much depth on the core topics. Those expecting more may be disappointed and some may find the book's suggestive title misleading. Probably more accurate if they called it "A *PRIMER* for Business Model Generation" instead of a Handbook. It's a place to get started, not a definitive resource as the term handbook implies. Finally, the small font sizes that a few reviewers mentioned will surely be difficult to read for those with less-than-great eyesight.
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166 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2009
This is an absolutely superb book and my first and only book on business models. It is so up to date and filled with gems that I feel no need to read another anytime soon.

The book is aptly titled, being all about how to generate business models. However, you have to know what it is before you can generate it. To this end, the first section of the book is devoted to introducing a standard language and format for talking about business models. They introduce nine key items which serve as the building blocks for all business models. These are listed below, illustrated with Skype's business model.

CUSTOMER SEGMENTS: Who will use the product?
1) web users globally 2) people who want to call phones

VALUE PROPOSITION: Why will they use the product?
1) free Internet and video calling 2) cheap calls to phones (SkypeOut)

CHANNELS: How will the product be delivered to the customers?
[...] and headset partnerships

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS: how will you develop and maintain contact with your customers in each segment?
Mass customizedMass customized

REVENUE STREAMS: How is revenue generated from which customer segments?
1) Free 2) SkypeOut prepaid or subscription

ACTIVITIES: What are the key things that you need to do to create and deliver the product?
Software development

RESOURCES: What assets are required to create and deliver the product?

PARTNERS: Who will you want to partner with (e.g suppliers, outsourcing)
Payment providers, Distribution partners, Telco Partners

COST STRUCTURE: What are the main sources of cost required to create and deliver the product?
Software development, complaint management

These building blocks are laid out on a page in a very specific way, referred to as a "business model canvas". As each chapter unfolds, we get a clearer and clearer understanding of each building block and how to use them to create, evaluate and communicate business models.

The business model canvas can be used to describe any of a wide variety of business models. Patterns emerge which correspond to categories of business models. For example, the Long Tail business model is all about selling less of more. The focus is on "offering a large number of niche products, each of which sells relatively infrequently". This pattern is illustrated with the transformation of the book publishing industry and Netflix.

Another example is the so-called "Freemium" business model used by Skype and countless other Internet businesses. This is compared with the standard Telco model making the two models easy to compare. A similar analysis compares the traditional computer gaming model used by Sony and Microsoft which competes on high performance with Nintendo's Wii business model which focuses on casual gamers and a dramatic reduction in development costs. Visualizing these alternatives on a canvas is very powerful (much easier than the above lists).

The Freemium model is a special case of a more general "multi-sided market" pattern which "brings together two or more distinct but interdependent groups of customers". For example, Google gives away a variety of services to one customer segment, the average web user, and earn income from keyword auctions from advertisers, which comprise the other side of the pattern. As is typical with the multi-sided market pattern, the key resource is the platform which facilitates interactions between the two customer segments.

Another major section of the book is devoted to designing business models. Very explicit instructions and tips are given in the context of an overall process. Different phases include: gathering customer insights, ideation/brainstorming, visual thinking, prototyping, storytelling and scenarios.

A major section on strategy includes a section on how to evaluate existing business models, identifying problems, and brainstorming about possible solutions. Nintendo's Wii is featured. One problem with the traditional gaming model is that consoles are sold at a loss to a relatively small market. By eliminating the huge cost of gaming platform development and adding motion-controlled games with a family focus, the market grew much larger.

The design and layout of the book is equally delightful. It is a cross between a Powerpoint pitch and a regular book, and is easy and fun to read.

The only negative I can think of is the binding. I don't know the lingo, but basically, the front and back (hard) covers are not directly connected to each other. Between them are the sewn and glued sections of the book that are normally hidden. Unfortunately, the book seems to be flimsy. But this is a minor niggle.

Overall, this is a brilliant book. If you have any interest in business models, get it as soon as you can. I got mine by chance on a recent trip to Europe while visiting a colleague. I saw that it was not available yet in the US, so he traded me for my copy of an equally excellent book: The new business road test: What entrepreneurs and executives should do before writing a business plan (2nd Edition).
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104 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2011
I purchased this book to refine what I know about business models, which always seemed like an ill-defined concept when found in popular writings and even through my business school experience. I wanted to know about the fundamentals of a business model and its creation as well as providing sound examples of business model structures along with the underpinnings of when they work and why. This book seemed perfect for my undertaking but falls short of an essential book on the subject, coming off merely as an overview with some random unrelated business topics thrown in for good measure.

One problem that proliferates throughout the book is in how it categorizes components when dissecting model elements. Their categories are time and again overlapping and incomplete - thus appearing arbitrary. For example, when detailing the different types of revenue streams, the following categories are given as distinct and complete: Asset Sale, Usage Fee, Subscription Fee, Lending/Renting/Leasing, Licensing, Brokerage Fees, and, Advertising. How would you categorize the hotel business? The authors put this under Usage Fee. Why? It seems a lot like Renting to me. How about Gillette's razor blade model? The authors talk about it later in the book (termed the Bait-And-Hook model), but do not categorize this type of revenue stream here. Odd. But the overarching problem is that the categorization throughout the book is consistently arbitrary, and reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office proclaiming, "There are four kinds of businesses: tourism, food service, rail roads, and sales, ... and hospitals/manufacturing, ... and air travel".

Another problem is that the book delves into topics that are ancillary at best to the primary topic and are better covered in books dedicated to the topic. For example, under the guise of how to design a business model, the authors get diverted into the topic of creating an innovative ideation process. If you really want to know how to do this, read Innovation Tournaments by Terwiesch & Ulrich. The section of the book about scenario planning is cursory at best and overly simplistic at worst. Read The Entrepreneurial Mindset by McGrath & MacMillan to learn about discovery-driven planning, a very useful framework which isn't even covered in Business Model Generation.

The book contains a major section on strategy, which is nothing more than a bastardization of Porter's 5-Force model. The issue here is that Porter's model is clear and concise whereas the BMG book again suffers from bad categorization. I am not sure why they felt they needed to re-invent Porter's framework (perhaps copyright restrictions), but what really bothered me was the misapplication of the framework. Porter's model, contained within the Positioning school of strategic thought, deals only with static corporate strategy, i.e. the question of in which businesses you should compete assuming they are not changing. It does not tell you how to compete once your business is chosen. At the time of generating business models, I would assume that your business is already chosen. Sure, it is fundamental to have a deep understanding of the business itself, so at the time of generating a business model, if you haven't already done a 5-Forces analysis, you should probably do it post-haste. In fairness, the authors use their bastardized strategy analysis with hopes of developing a disruptive business model. They defer to the popular book Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne, but if you really want to learn how to generate disruptive ideas, read both The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution by Christenson.

The part of the book that I most looked forward to was the section on Patterns, i.e. the primary architectures of business models. This was indeed a good section, but it is hardly a treatise on the subject, and what's more, has a bent toward IT examples and the dotcom mindset - which proliferates throughout the entire book. I was hoping for something more academic and fundamental. I wanted to know what patterns work in which situations and why. There was no depth to be found here.

One point that struck me as particularly curious is that on one of the final pages of the book, the authors admit that the business model is only one part of the full business plan. It would seem to me better to write a book about generating business plans, in total, with business models contributing a meaty chapter.

The best part of the book is their Business Model Canvas, which is a template used to dissect and even generate business models. It would be useful when doing strategy cases in business school, and I am sure I can find some application for it in my strategy work. It's novel, but not groundbreaking - plus you can download it for free from their website.
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53 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2011
I had high hopes for this book, which is billed as a practical, hands-on guide and an antidote to the clunky writing and inflated word count of most business books. The reality is that this book mostly provides a superficial and somewhat arbitrary tour of business concepts. It may be useful to you if you're encountering many of these concepts for the first time, but otherwise you're likely to be underwhelmed. Here, for example, are the book's final words on the matter of sales channels: "The trick is to find the right balance between the different types of Channels, to integrate them in a way to create a great customer experience, and to maximize revenues."

That is indeed the trick! Does the book offer any insight into how one might pull off this trick, either in terms of specific strategies or compelling case studies? The answer is pretty much: nope. If you've literally never considered how different sales channels affect your business, then the book might provide a useful spark. Otherwise, don't expect to learn anything.

The portions of the book that do focus on specific strategies are in some ways worse, because they tend to be overly selective and fadddish. For example, the book devotes a few pages each to exactly five possible patterns for business models: unbundling, long tail, multi-sided platforms, freemium, and open. Perhaps useful as an extremely abbreviated summary of trendy business ideas in the early 2000s, the list seems more likely to lead entrepreneurs astray than yield any true insight.

From a practical standpoint, I think it's useful to have a systematic framework through which to analyze and compare business models, and if this book provides such a framework for you, then great. And at least it's a quick read. But don't expect to learn much from the content itself.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
If you are planning to read this book on your Kindle do not waste your time or money. The diagrams displayed terribly
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
The content of the book is allright, but the adaptation is pathetic.
There no way to see, let alone, read any of the images/examples/canvas/graphics.
I threw away 18 euros, it's terrible!!!!!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
This book is beautifully laid out and illustrated and the writing style is compelling.

If you're a college grad or first/second year web person, the book is great for you. Anyone with more experience, however, should avoid it. The concepts (building a platform, for example) are so basic and straight forward, that there's really no new information here that you can't learn by reading Techcrunch or completing an online MBA. The case studies, although great examples of each of the points, have been repeated ten times over (i.e. Apple releasing iTunes and the App Store).

I heard about the book from Steve Blank, who described it as an essential compendium to 'Four Steps to the Epiphany.' I would agree, if this is your first business. Otherwise, steer clear.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
I am starting a new business, very busy, and am frantically sucking up every available sliver of business advice. I must have read hundreds of business books and issues of Inc. So grateful when I can find something I can put into action.

This book seemed to have a lot of promise, but while it's pretty to look it, I found the contents neither accurate (i.e. reporting on what people actually did), nor actionable/useful. Words and pictures on a page, giving the impression of substance while teaching nothing.

It's just cute - maybe interesting for people who want to imagine themselves being in business without actually doing the thing described - building a business model and starting a company.

A much better book on startups that lacks pretty pictures but DOES provide a usable *process* is Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean Series). If you're a busy businessperson or entrepreneur, read that instead.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2014
For those interested in the Kindle version of Business Model Generation, be warned that terrible formatting plagues every single page of the book. Fonts cannot be specified by the user, and the scale of type will force you to turn pages every 20 seconds.

There are also numerous sub-sections not included in the table on contents, as well as no index of any kind, making navigation between sections almost impossible.
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