Subscription businesses are growing at 500% to 800% faster than traditional businesses and are estimated to be worth well over $200 billion at the end of 2022.
Why it matters
Making money online isn’t just about having a good idea, how much venture capital you have raised, or how hard you work.
It’s about how good your timing is.
Launching a new business into a fading and failing trend is a surefire way to lose a lot of money (Hint: You wouldn’t want to be starting a video rental store).
It would, however, be smart to start an online video streaming business with a subscription business model. And a company called Netflix comes to mind in that regard.
In the news
In a Ted Talk by Bill Gross on “The Single Biggest Reason Why Start-ups Succeed” (currently viewed over 10 million times on YouTube), Bill reveals that after analyzing 200+ startups the biggest reason for success was “timing” at 42%. Team and execution came second, and the uniqueness of an idea came third.
Trend spotting is a skill the best entrepreneurs often have in common.
Here are 5 Books that will challenge your thinking about being an entrepreneur in a digital world. These books are worth exploring slowly and thoughtfully.
These books reveal a few different business models that work well and are proven in the digital business world. These include:
- Subscription Business Models (Physical and Information Products)
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) e-Commerce Business Models
- Software as a Service (SaaS) business models
1. The Lean Startup: How Relentless Change Creates Radically Successful Businesses
This book by Eric Ries provides a broad landscape of the world of an online business.
In essence, it outlines the importance of measuring what works and what doesn’t with data in real-time. And we should always start with a “Minimal Viable Product” (MVP) to test what works and what doesn’t.
Business is both an art and a science and new technology has allowed anyone to test and trial ideas fast and cheaply to measure what succeeds, engages or fails.
Out of this have come a few terms that may shape your approach to launching a new online business.
- MVP – Minimal Viable Product
- MTP – Minimal Testable Product
- MLP- Minimal Lovable Product
The Lean Startup provides insight into the fast-evolving landscape of digital businesses. It also provides great context for emerging online business models.
The digital age has turned almost every aspect of our world on its head. This extends to our personal lives and how we do business.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late.
2. The Forever Transaction: How to Build a Subscription Model So Compelling, Your Customers Will Never Want to Leave
This book by Robbie Kellman Baxter reveals how digital subscription business models are changing how we acquire, access and use products and services.
The idea is simple. Your customers pay a subscription fee and periodically receive delivery of your goods.
These can be physical goods such as HelloFresh (healthy food) and Dollar Shave Club (men’s razors) or they can be digital products or even services in the B2B category. An innovator in this space is Shuttlerock. They offer “Creative as a Service” (CaaS) where you can purchase video advertising creative for a fixed fee each month.
More and more companies are concluding that the potential rewards of subscription-based products and services are worth the risk of radically changing their business models. They’re correct.
The membership economy is here and it’s here to stay—and if you want to compete for the long run, you need to join it.
Strategy consultant Robbie Kellman Baxter (who I interviewed on my Podcast “The Jeff Bullas Show”), has been helping companies excel in this business environment for more than a decade.
In her book, The Forever Transaction, she reveals all her secrets. You can also find a few more of them on my YouTube Channel!
Whatever industry you’re in, Baxter provides the inspiration, tools, and insight you need to build and execute a business model that will leave your competition in the dust.
You’ll also master all the essentials of succeeding in the membership economy, like subscription pricing, Software-as-a-Service, digital community engagement, and freemium incentives as a way to turn casual browsers into cash-paying super-users.
With The Forever Transaction, you have everything you need to build durable, long-term relationships with every customer, and leverage them for ultimate business success―today, tomorrow, and forever.
3. Aggregator Navigator: The Ultimate Playbook for Selling Your Amazon Brand Successfully
This is a short but revealing book on building multi-million dollar e-commerce businesses on Amazon.
In a recent interview with Josh Dittrich on my Podcast “The Jeff Bullas Show” titled “Turning an Amazon Side Hustle into a Multi-Million Dollar Business” we discussed the fast-growing online business opportunities in the “FBA” eCommerce segment (Fulfillment by Amazon).
The rise of a new business model that outsources the acquisition of products on Amazon and the distribution and fulfillment on the platform is a huge opportunity for potential entrepreneurs and those who want to start a side hustle.
In Aggregator Navigator, Josh Dittrich shares what he’s learned from building and selling two Amazon businesses for an eight-figure amount.
He says, “I didn’t have any special training in this. I’m a father of five from Minnesota who learned as I went along. I’ve written this book so that anyone who hopes to do what I did is able to learn from my experiments, mistakes and wins, whether they’re self-taught, as I am, or have an MBA from Harvard Business School. Building a business you can sell for millions of dollars takes the right strategy and daily steps, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to pull it off”.
4. That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea
In 1997 Marc Randolph had an idea, using and leveraging the internet to rent movies.
It worked for a while and then the advent of high-speed broadband changed the game. You no longer needed to watch a video on your VHS machine as the movie could be watched instantly via the web.
Many ideas end in failure, but some lead to billion-dollar companies. In this book, Marc Randolph outlines how an idea worked and then it didn’t.
The Internet changed how we create media and distribute media. The online media business model has been evolving since the web and search engines changed the game. The subscription media model is everywhere.
- News Media – Washington Post and Wired Magazine
- Entertainment Media – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and many more
- Investment Newsletter media – Motley Fool
Almost every media company offers its information as a subscription. You now don’t own a movie, you “rent” or subscribe.
5. Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry
The rise of the Internet disrupted how we bought and used software to power our businesses.
This industry is known as “Software as a Service” (SaaS).
In this book by Marc Benioff, we learn how salesforce.com grew from a start-up in a rented apartment into the world’s fastest-growing software company in less than a decade.
For the first time, Marc Benioff, the visionary founder, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, tells how he and his team created and used new business, technology, and philanthropic models tailored to this time of extraordinary change.
Showing how salesforce.com not only survived the dotcom implosion of 2001, but went on to define itself as the leader of the cloud computing revolution and sparked a $46-billion dollar industry.
Benioff’s story will help business leaders and entrepreneurs stand out, innovate better, and grow faster in any economic climate.
Wrapping it up
Traditional business models have been disrupted and they will keep evolving. You need to discover what you are good at, what you enjoy doing and then create. Seth Godin said it well, “Do what you love is for amateurs. Love what you do is for professionals”.
So create a product or service that is built on your “good” and fall in love with the process.
Enjoy the process and practice of creating every day as an artist and entrepreneur. Show up every day and step into the process and routine so you are not at the whim of emotion. The flow will come out of the routine of “go”.
Then share your creation and discover the answer to a big question: Will the world pay me for that?
Your business model will be imperfect at first. But the process of turning up every day and being curious about what your daily action produces will be the difference between success and failure.
Read Part 1 of this series: 6 Books That Inspired My Online Side Hustle Success
Read Part 2 of this series: 5 Books To Supercharge Your Creativity
Read Part 3 of this series: These 6 Books Reveal How to Get Free Traffic on Social Media