Time to re-think your business model

Over Christmas is a fascinating time to do some thinking. Virtually everyone is off work for a week or so, no interruptions and an ideal time to sit down and ponder the future of your business.

Because the world is changing so dramatically and I have an idea, a comparable to help you do this.

The most captivating business model I’ve come across this year is Uber. Have a look to see how they run their firm and see if there are any parallels with yours.

Uber, the disruptive taxi service, is a model for how future organizations might recruit, train and manage the performance of employees. It is completely staffed by self-employed entrepreneurs who own their own cars and drive when and where they want. Uber recruits them by word-of-mouth and through small, local branding efforts. Customers rate them after each journey and drivers who do not get good ratings are removed immediately. Customers are also rated by drivers and unruly or argumentative ones are denied further service. Uber has a very small permanent staff, yet the company operates globally and has thousands of drivers. It is able to do this by using technology to connect drivers to customers and to the headquarters.

It’s easy to say that this model won’t work, hasn’t worked in the past or it’s not the way we do things around here. But if your business hasn’t yet been disrupted by the internet, automated intelligence or robotics then maybe re-thinking your business model now, may well support you well for the future.

Take estate agency. I spent three happy years in agency in the late 1980’s when the world was so different. Bricks and mortar offices are no longer needed but sellers still need local knowledge of the market, someone to hold everything together once offers are made. Believe me, that’s the true role of a good agent and the current crop of online only agents with fixed fees can’t emulate that localised service.

So here’s an idea from Uber. Have a centralised low staff nerve centre, excellent web presence and database of properties available on all devices. Have freelance agents all-round the country working remotely who are connected to customers via technology. Recruit through advertising locally and word of mouth. Customers rate them and vice versa. Collect fees from customers and give the agents a slice.

And I know it’s being done, the company is currently raising seed capital on the markets.

What about you? Could you use the Uber model?

And I did say virtually everyone is off work over Christmas but do spare some thoughts for those working over Christmas especially for my eldest son who’s a chef in a local restaurant – busiest time of the year for him.