changing my business model
You might start in one place and end up in another

The Changing Business Model

One of the interesting things about small businesses (side hustles included) is the changing business model.They almost never end up what they begin as.  I have started many businesses and I was always sure that I had the idea, the customer demand, and the solution all locked down before I started putting it all together.

Almost universally those ideas evolved into something I had not originally imagined.

Of course, you should start with commitment to an idea and a plan.

But you should also do the things that will allow you to “bob and weave” as you learn new things change your mind, and realize you might have to pivot.

Leave Yourself Wiggle Room

I’m talking about things like:

Let me give you an example of a real life changing business model. One of my assets is TravelnursingUSA.com. Here’s some background.

In the early 2000’s, (sounds kind of like the midieval ages lol) I was in the “job board” business. The Internet was fairly new and it was on fire in that space  with companies like Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com.

While most people don’t realize it, the newspaper industry generated a huge part of their revenue from classified advertising. Job listing was the most lucrative part of that. Meanwhile the Internet came along and provided a new and better solution to job recruitment ads and it devastated the print news business.

My First Idea

At the time I was running a regional “job board” and got the idea to turn it on it’s head, niche down, and choose an industry to focus on.

Nursing jobs was my first idea.

I started a website and planned to make it a traditional job board that just had nursing jobs. The business model was the same as all of the others. My business model would charge employers for job postings and make a bit of display ad revenue.

It was an expensive build out. I needed sophisticated applications to perform all of the functions needed to satisfy two different customers….employers and applicants.

In those days banner ads were a pretty big thing. If you were generating eyeballs to your site(traffic)  you could charge significant dollars for banner ads. The good news is that it was basically passive income. Critically the bad news was that it took those eyeballs to someone else’s website. When they clicked on that banner they were gone.

My traffic was registered nurses. It didn’t take long for a niche in nursing called travel nursing to discover that I had that RN traffic they were interested in. I began getting inquiries from travel nurse agencies about putting banner ads on my nursing site site.

Then Careerbuilder and Monster came calling.

I said yes to everyone and before I knew it, my banner ad revenue was outpacing my posting revenue.

And of course, this was not the original plan but I was thrilled anyway.

Eventually, the travel nurse agencies who really wanted to meet these nurses looking for jobs, were my biggest source of income.

Then Came My Changing Business Model

I decided to pivot. My team and I quickly put together a niche nursing site called TravelnursingUSA.com and created content and links to drive traffic to it. We also put a form on the site for those who wanted more information.

My ideal customer avatar changed from a nurse looking for a job to an RN with experience who wanted to explore the idea of travel nursing.

But little did I know that the form was the key. That part of the business exploded. I learned Google Ads and before you knew it I was generating hundreds of nurses a month who wanted more information on “travel.” They were filling out the forms asking for more information.

This became the basis of a vibrant business of lead generation.Travel nursing agencies who were desperate to find RNs who wanted to “travel” purchased access to information on a subscription basis.

Meanwhile the banner ads became a minor part of the business. Job posting was even smaller. Lead generation ended up becoming a multiple 6 figure business for me.

My point is this.

  • I started it out as a job board. (Posting jobs for money)
  • It morphed into a banner ads business.
  • Eventually became successful as a lead generation business.

I never would have imagined all of the pivots my job board business model would take and what it would eventually become. Staying nimble allowed me to take advantage of the new things I learned as I went along.

The Lesson

This happens in small businesses and large businesses. Facebook, Google, Linkedin and Nursetown all started out as one thing and ended up making most of their revenue by bobbing and weaving and figuring out what their users wanted or needed.

The lesson?  Follow your plan but….

  • Keep learning about the industry you are in
  • Stay flexible and ahead of the curve. Be prepared for a changing business model
  • Pivot when you need to
  • No matter what the informercial guy says, do NOT “set it and forget it”

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