What if there was a business that could save children’s lives, protect women from rape, improve the environment, and even pay people money to use its product. And, what if that business also made money with two sources of revenue.
Sounds unbelievable but it’s true. I was lucky to be in the audience at the TEDx Amsterdam Women Conference to hear Anjali Sarker from Bangladesh tell her story about what inspired her to create Toilet Plus, a business that does all of this for the rural poor in her country.
It all boils down to the motivation to get people to change their behavior, to buy and use the toilet. This is accomplished by offering them money for their waste. Anjali describes this as, “Sh*t and Earn” or in other words, crap and collect.
The affordable, long-lasting, and sustainable toilets her company sells offer a never ending revenue source for its clients because they are able to sell their human and bio waste to the company. Then her company uses the waste to create organic fertilizer which they sell to local companies.
This is a business model that saves live, changes lives, benefits the local community, and makes money. It’s got to be the most ingenious and fascinating business model I’ve ever encountered.
Anjali believes “Sanitation is a right, not a privilege” and she is on a mission to redefine sanitation. You can watch her entire 12 minute talk here:
So what does this story have to do with you and your business?
My intention is to inspire you to take a long hard look at your business and imagine and brainstorm how you could reinvent your business model so that you are able to make an even bigger impact.
10 Ideas to Consider for Your Business Model
- Add a new revenue stream. You could do this by changing the format of an existing product (audio to written or written to video). Or you could create a brand new product like a live workshop, software program, paid master mind group, or a membership website. Get even more ideas in my post, Creative Ways to Increase Your Profit: 17 Ideas for Additional Income Streams.
- Change the way your products and services are delivered. If you’ve delivered everything in a physical format you may want to switch to electronic delivery (or vice versa). Same idea if you’ve always done all of your work in person, maybe there are components that can be done virtually.
- Add a new audience segment. For example, if you make websites and you’ve been focused on a particular niche like musicians, maybe photographers would also be a great fit for your business.
- Refine your current target market even further by becoming more specific. For example my friend Erno Hannink focused on helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses. Recently he rebranded his company to focus not only on creating a solid business but also specifically on Family and Business Balance and he created a five pillar model to support this.
- Turn your business model upside down. “Flip it before you ditch it” a concept that Melody Biringer talks about in her book, Craving Success. The idea is to take your current business model and try doing the opposite to see if that works even better.
- Create new packages or combinations of your products and services. Sometimes little things make a big difference. Perhaps simply adding, or removing, one aspect of one of your packages will make them vastly more appealing to your community. Or maybe you need to combine two things that you haven’t thought of combining before.
- Get rid of a revenue stream that isn’t very popular or profitable. This is a no brainer; don’t waste your time on activities that don’t serve you or your clients.
- Find a company to partner with for a new product or service. It’s amazing what can be created when you work with other people. Do your research, get to know some people, and start brainstorming.
- Switch the way you price your product or service. If you’ve been selling “one time” products or services you could move to a subscription based model and charge monthly, or the other way around.
- Include a “more than profit” element to your business. Meaning you give part of your profit to a cause of your choosing. Examples of companies that are “more than profit” are Toms, Sevenly, and the companies listed on Shop With Meaning.
If Anjali’s story doesn’t inspire you to think about how you can transform your business model then I don’t know what will. Makes some changes to your business model and delight your clients with something that will blow their minds.
© Stephanie Ward
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TJ McCue wrote this in Forbes post about Anjali’s business model, 3 Ways The Toilet+ Business Model Can Change The World And Your Company.
What does your business model look like? Share your ideas, comments, and questions below in the comments section.