Finding Opportunities

1. Business Model Canvas

Whether you’re starting a business, buying into one, or hoping to join an existing business as an employee, commercial understanding and business acumen will be key to your success. Recruiters often feedback that although students have excellent academic ability, they are unable to translate that into industry and the workplace. Simply put, they don’t know how the business operates, lack understanding of the sector, and are unable to identify what gives a competitive edge in the market. We’ll move on to a more in-depth look in this section, but a useful basic tool is to understand the SWOT model (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). This is a strategic planning technique which many businesses use to understand their own business in relation to competitors.

The Business Model canvas is a fantastic tool to enable you to focus your research into all areas of any business. In addition, it can be used to help you to understand where your role of interest fits within the wider business. Say for example, that you are hoping to work in the marketing department of your chosen company, in order to show your aptitude during recruitment you would firstly need to understand your audience and the why they are interested in the product or service on offer. But this is a basic-level understanding… to go further, you could think about the channels that would be available to you when in post, the resources the company is able to provide, the partners who could help, etc. to help you to build a wider picture which allows you to offer recommendations and demonstrate how you could make an impact if in post. Keep in mind, you’ll never know everything when you’re looking in from the outside but you can easily complete a deeper level of research than skimming the company website and finding out what it does.

It is made up of 9 parts:

  • Key activities
  • Key resources
  • Partners
  • Value propositions
  • Customer segments
  • Channels
  • Customer relationships
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue streams

Here’s a handy video to show you how it works:

Activity: imagine you are a consultant and choose a company or organisation you are interested in working for. Keep in mind that it is more difficult to find a wealth of information about SMEs online, so depending on your career aspirations or further the purposes of this exercise, choose accordingly.

Complete the Business Model Canvas to the best of your ability for the company. Aim to have at least two comments in each segment.

Identify two of its competitors and compare the company against them. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What is unique about the company you chose?
  • What are its value propositions and how are they useful against its competition? Are there any that aren’t being utilised as they could be?
  • What are the weaknesses of its competitors and how could the company capitalise on those?
  • Are there any new customer segments the company could move into?