Business Advice

This Futurist Business Designer can tell if your business idea will stand the test of time

- August 10, 2022 3 MIN READ

The traditional pathway to a thriving business has radically changed, writes Futurist Business Designer Melissa Pepers. Business design helps you pivot traditional models and do something different.

It’s the early 20th century and you’ve just discovered a new type of business on your travels. You spent some time with the owner and learned the ropes. You are excited because you know that when you start this business in your own town, it will change everything because the old way was nowhere near as good.

The concepts at play in this time capsule are a key driver of both the success or failure of businesses today.

If your business is:


  • The only one addressing a need for a given audience
  • Effectively and efficiently delivering its solution like a well-oiled machine
  • Significantly better than what a potential new customer is currently doing
  • Communicating in a way that clearly expresses all this goodness

Then it’s likely your business is thriving.

Done-before means over-done

Unlike this example, to get a thriving business with a model that’s been done before is becoming increasingly difficult. At some point along the way, having a previously successful business idea became more important than the factors that drove that success.

Over time, exponentially more businesses began to emerge following one proven model or another. The question stopped being ‘why use a proven model?’ and instead became ‘which proven model should I choose?’. Fast forward, and thousands of new businesses flood over-served categories every year.

This leads to:


  • Buyer disloyalty increasing as they follow the cheapest price in an abundance of alternatives
  • Owners burning out because of the effort involved in standing out from the competition and keeping up with the latest trends
  • The cost of attention and acquisition increasing as those alternative businesses are demanding the same eyeballs
  • All brands and communications in a category converging to the same style with only superficial differences

Notice how this is the opposite of a thriving business?

Back when you were the only one to meet a need, done-before meant a fairly safe and clear pathway to success. That wasn’t because it was a proven model, it’s because in that context a proven model had the four necessary characteristics for thriving.

Now the context has radically changed and the pathway to a thriving business is nearly the opposite of where the proven model will take you.

Unlocking niche potential

This new pathway is called business design. Business design is a new discipline with strategic processes for the creation or pivoting of business models. It integrates the factors for a thriving business with the needs of a business owner, the discovery of unmet needs in different populations, and the opportunities in a marketplace.

This works for businesses that aren’t proven models also, such as niches. The challenge with doing something new for the first time, is that before business design, most strategies only catered to the proven model. Business designers create niches and deeply differentiated businesses every day. The process allows their unique opportunities to realise their full potential in the marketplace.

Think of the most pressing challenge in your business. The one that if you could move the needle on it, everything would be a lot easier. A business designer knows that there is likely to be an unmet need at the foundation of your business. It’s a gap where there is no strategy that adequately addresses that need.

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll be able to identify that your challenges form a pattern. If your business fails, it’s likely that these unmet weaknesses were behind the how and why of that failure.

It’s a misunderstanding that adverse circumstances create issues. All they do is reveal vulnerabilities that are already there.

Using business design to create strong foundations doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges. It means challenges won’t devastate, confuse, and overwhelm you. And they won’t be exclusive to just one aspect of your business.

Instead, challenges become a welcome signpost when you’ve arrived at your next growth stage – becoming a business that will stand the test of time.


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