The Continuum of Different Business Models

August 13, 2012

When wanting to break away from a traditional 9-5, something to consider is the different types of business models. I see this as a continuum where on one end you have a business that pretty much looks like a traditional job, and on the other end you have something that’s radically different.

The Continuum of Different Business Models

Something to consider when you’re thinking of self-employment and starting a business is what you want the business to look like, what will fit you best, and what will give you the best shot at success. Below are some of the different models to consider.

Different Types of Business Models

Independent Contractor This is probably the easiest transition out of a traditional job. For example, if you’re an accountant, lawyer, or graphic designer, you could step out on your own and find multiple clients rather than having just one (your employer).

Service-based Business This type of business often can be started with very little money and could be anything from mowing lawns, cutting hair, providing speech therapy, or walking dogs. This is the exact model Claudia and I choose for our music school business. Plus, we were able to keep our startup costs to virtually nothing by providing music lessons in student’s homes.

Consultant/coach This is a service-based business where you’re working with others leveraging your knowledge in a particular area. Some examples are: life coach, business coach, health coach, and fitness coach.

Home-based Product Creation This business model is one where you could make something yourself and sell it either retail or wholesale. Some examples would be making baked goods and selling them at the local farmer’s market, making custom drapery for local interior designers, or making high-end custom furniture and creating a name for yourself locally.

Internet Business This business model is less traditional and offers more in the way of freedom and flexibility. Some examples of this model are create a blog about eating a healthy, whole food diet, a membership site about how to shoot great home videos, or a site selling garden pond supplies where everything is dropshipped and you never have to see it.

Outsourced Product Creation This model is one where you may have a great idea for the next iPhone case or iPad app and, using your own money, you work with the designers and developers to make the product a reality.

Startup with Venture Capital This is a model where there is a great deal more risk involved and you may by working with a million or two of investor’s money in hopes of launching the next Zappo’s or Twitter, for example.

There are many models to choose from when looking to start your own business. Some will look more like a traditional job and be quicker to get off the ground while others will look radically different and may have a lot more risk involved.

There is no one model that fits everyone. Find one that fits your situation and knock it out of the park.

Question: Where on the continuum does your current business or business idea fall?


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  • Reply Joe Lalonde August 13, 2012 at 6:20 am

    My idea will probably have me ending up as a Consultant/coach. 

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Very cool, Joe. I could see this fitting into what you’re doing on your blog!

  • Reply John Cole August 13, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Mine seems to be a combination of several of these: independent contractor, consultant, home-based product creation and internet business.  My ultimate goal, however, is for it to be a home-based product creation internet business, much like what this guy has put together, http://www.whizbangbooks.com/ . 

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      John, does you bird control and pecan site fit into your ultimate goal or are those more side projects?

      That’s amazing that that guy’s chicken butchering tutorial has over a million page views!

      • Reply John Cole August 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

         Those sites are part of the ultimate goal.  I envision them contributing in one way or another.  The pecan site was more of a learning project, but is generating web traffic, but not monetizing very much yet. 

  • Reply Dan Hefferan August 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

    My ideas, tend to fall on the far right: potential startups/ outsourced product production/ internet business.

    Good things to think about early in the morning 🙂

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Dan, I guess http://hustlemonth.com would fit into that side of the equation. I think that’s such a cool project!

      What ideas do you have for product creation?

  • Reply Ann Musico August 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for including my coaching link, Michael.  So you know basically where I fall and if I decide to supplement with a part time job it would most likely be independent contractor or consultant.  Great information and so easy to understand the options seeing it all laid out the way you have it.

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Sure thing, Ann. Hey, as a side note. If you’re looking to find out more about mystery shopping you can still certainly hit me up, but I could also put you in touch with Chris Peek. He’s the expert and the person who got me started. 

      Do you two know each other?

      • Reply Ann Musico August 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

         I don’t know Chris, Michael.  And I think for the moment I’m going to still focus on the coaching and growing the Beyond Organic leg of it.  But I will touch base with you in a bit if I still feel this might be something to consider – I really appreciate all your help!

  • Reply Michael Wright August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Good post.  Not in bizness for myself, but I recently read an Idea from an FAA’er who has a similar DISC bent as I do that resonated with me – having a local Concierge service.  I had no idea people paid for this, but there are several such services in the Atlanta area.  I’ve figured out that I need human interaction in my work to thrive, so being strictly an online type model would only be ideal as a supplemental to this.

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Michael, that’s a neat idea and I can believe people would pay good money for someone they trust. I could see you being great at this!

      Once you’d build a name for yourself, I’m sure it’d be easy to get/keep clients. 

  • Reply Rob Clinton August 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Really appreciate the link plug there Michael! But absolutely, I fall in the coach category on the continuum. However, not restricted there by any means, as coaching is what I primarily do, but I also seek the freedom and flexibility that technology and great ideas provides, so I’m constantly seeking for business ideas that compliment what I do in order that I can keep growing.

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Very cool, Rob! The neat thing about coaching is that it can be so flexible and can be just one part of what you do if you want it to be.

      And, you’re welcome for the link!

  • Reply Donna Yates August 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Wish I could find another stream of income to add to my etsy shops so that in total, I could make an independent self employment life.  I’ve been toying with selling larger antiques, i.e. tables, chairs, chests, etc., but haven’t figured out the shipping and if people really will pay to have something that large shipped.  I also thought about renting space at a local shop but not sure if that’s the best way to sell.  With my background in public health and nursing, I’ve also thought I’d like to start a service based business such as a consultant/coach.  Still trying to figure it all out.  Barbara Winter, who is the author of “Making a Living without a job” says that if you have multiple income streams, you can make enough to live the life you want because you are in control.  That’s where I’d like to be. 

    • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm


      I think you’re on to something with multiple streams of income. This is something I’ve been thinking about and would like to get into more as well.
      I could see the limitations with shipping the larger items. But you might be able to sell them locally without having a retail space if you advertised them online on a site like craigslist. We’ve had good success with selling furniture through craigslist.

      Are things with the house still on track for the 24th?

      • Reply Donna Yates August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Yes Michael, we are to close on the 24th!!  I’m getting married Friday, going on a honeymoon till Tuesday, movers coming on Wednesday, doing final walk through on Thursday and then close on Friday.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it 🙂  Thanks for asking. 

        I have sold several things through craigslist and have had pretty good success there.  Maybe I haven’t given that enough credit.  Good idea!  I think I’ll try that for a while and see how it works.  I’ll let you know.  If I could get three to four streams that make about $4000 per month, I’d be happy! 

        • Reply Michael Good August 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

          That’s exciting news, Donna! I didn’t realize it was that soon! I wish you and your soon-to-be husband nothing but the best. 

          On the multiple income streams, one thing I’m trying to keep in mind is to keep them somewhat related so they can fuel one another. There can be some cross promoting this way and one can help grow the others.

          • Donna Yates August 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

            Thanks Michael.  Yes, very soon! 

            I like your idea about keeping the income streams somewhat related. I’ll have to think about how to incorporate all my skills/ideas/passions into related income streams. 

          • Michael Good August 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

            Donna, did the closing go through?!

          • Donna Yates August 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm

            Yes!! The marriage, the honeymoon, the moving from my house to his and then the closing all went well! Well at least we survived:) Now my plan is to continue searching for a job in NC to meet my goal of moving there by Dec. Thanks for asking.

          • Michael Good August 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

            Very cool, Donna! Congrats to you and your new husband.

  • Reply John Cole August 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I have a question for you guys.  What do you all do about insurance coverage?  Just curious.

    • Reply Michael Good August 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm


      Both Claudia and I get our own insurance. I have an HSA plan with a higher deductible that’s very affordable and Claudia has a more traditional HMO that includes maternity. Her’s is of course more expensive, almost three times the cost of mine.
      But still, we’ve found it to be affordable. Actually, we’ve had these policies long before I ever quit my job, so I guess we’re used to it.
      What about you? Do you get it on your own?

      • Reply John Cole August 22, 2012 at 9:46 am

        Thanks for the reply Michael. 
        Since I still have the regular day job I have insurance thru the company.  It isn’t a great policy but it pays pretty well.  We still have high copays and a $3000 deductible.
        We have looked into the HSA plans as we have considered me getting out of the traditional job.  Like you said, it doesn’t seem too bad.  I know that is a big hang-up for lots of people when you talk about working on your own.  When I talk with my parents and in-laws about the growth of our business and the hope to soon be able to do it on a full-time basis, they always bring up insurance.  They say “What are you going to do, insurance is so expensive.” 
        I was just curious as to how you guys handle the insurance.  Thanks again!

        • Reply Michael Good August 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

          John, that’s awesome that you’re thinking of making the switch to full-time! Benefits always boil down to a certain number per month. You just have to factor that in.
          I have a post coming out shortly about insurance and some more of the specifics of what we do. You may find it interesting.

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