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Business Model Series 1: The 10 Most Common Types of Business Models

Updated: Nov 21

An illustration showcasing the 10 most common types of business models, providing a visual guide to understanding the unique functionalities of each model.
10 most common types of business models

One critical factor that defines the core essence of a company's success in the wide and dynamic world of commerce is its business model. It serves as the cornerstone for a company, describing how it generates, delivers, and acquires value in the market.

The concept of business models weaves a tapestry of varied methods, each suited to solve distinct obstacles and grasp opportunities, ranging from time-honored traditional models to cutting-edge innovations.

This article will teach you about numerous company models as well as the art and science of entrepreneurship.

What Is A Business Model?

A business model is the profit-making strategy of a corporation. It outlines the items or services that the company wants to sell, as well as the target market and any projected expenses.

Business models help new and growing businesses attract investment, recruit talent, and motivate management and employees.

Business models must be revised on a frequent basis to prevent failing to foresee future trends and challenges. Business models also help investors evaluate organizations of interest to them and employees understand the future of a company for which they may wish to work.

Understanding Business Models

This image illustrates the operation of different business models, including their key elements and strategic decisions.
A visual representation explaining the components and impact of different business models.

A company's business model defines how it plans to operate profitably in a certain market. This contains a value proposition outlining the goods or services offered and why customers prefer them over competitors.

Furthermore, the business model tackles the following topics: starting expenses, funding sources, target clients, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, income and expense estimations, and potential collaborations.

Customers' requirements are met at a competitive price through sustainable business approaches. Businesses constantly change their models to adapt to changing conditions and market demands. Understanding a company's business model is crucial for investors when evaluating investment opportunities since it indicates how the company makes money and operates financially.

Types of Business Models

A colorful infographic depicting the 10 most common types of business models, including retailer, manufacturer, fee-for-service, subscription, freemium, bundling, marketplace, affiliate, franchise, and pay as you go.
Types of Business Models


A retailer is a company that offers goods or services to customers directly. They buy these things from manufacturers or wholesalers and then mark them up before selling them to the general public through various distribution methods.

Physical brick-and-mortar storefronts, online e-commerce platforms, or a seamless combination of both are examples of these channels.

A retailer's goal is to make a profit by selling things at a higher price than they paid for them. They play an important role in the supply chain by acting as intermediaries between producers and end users. Retailers strive to suit their customers' wants and preferences by curating a varied choice of products and offering quick access to them.

Example: Walmart is a massive retail behemoth with operations all over the world. Their stores sell almost everything, from groceries to gadgets to clothing and household items. It's like a one-stop shop for just about anything.


A manufacturer creates finished things from raw materials or components, which are then sold to retailers or consumers.

These forward-thinking enterprises bring items to life by coordinating complex procedures and utilizing cutting-edge technologies. These products eventually find their way into the hands of retailers or even directly into the hands of discerning consumers globally.

Example: Apple is a well-known firm that produces a wide range of technology items, including iconic devices such as iPhones and MacBooks.

Over the years, Apple has built a reputation for creativity, craftsmanship, and making goods that appeal to a wide range of customers. Their emphasis on design aesthetics and user experience has distinguished them in the competitive tech market, elevating them to the ranks of the world's most prominent and recognizable technological organizations.


Instead of a set cost or subscription price, customers pay for particular services they use. It emerges as an adaptive method, allowing clients to receive particular services or tasks adapted to their personal requirements.

This adaptability allows customers to select the services they require, giving them a sense of control over their spending while receiving fair value in return.

Example: When delivering legal services to their clients, law firms frequently use the "hourly billing" method.

Under this billing model, clients are charged for the time spent by lawyers and other legal professionals giving legal consultation, conducting research, producing papers, and advocating for the client's interests. Each hour of work is recorded and billed to the client based on the hourly rates of the lawyers involved in the case or project.

On second thought, In the context of technology and software, this concept is closely related to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS is a business model where tech companies provide access to their software on a subscription or usage-based fee structure. Instead of buying and installing software on their own servers or devices, customers can use the software over the internet, often paying a recurring fee.

SaaS offers several benefits, including regular updates, scalability, and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. It aligns with the fee-for-service concept, as customers pay for the specific software services they need without the need for large upfront costs.


Customers pay a recurring price, usually monthly or annually, in order to have continued access to a product or service.

It lays the groundwork for long-term consumer connections and easy access to desired items or services. This method, with its recurrent billing cycle, pulls consumers into a world of continuous happiness as they experience the ongoing benefits of the subscription offerings.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software delivery model that can be provided as a subscription service. In this subscription-based approach, customers pay a recurring fee, typically on a monthly or annual basis, to access and use the software over the internet.

Example: Netflix is a well-known streaming service that provides its subscribers with an extensive library of movies, TV series, documentaries, and original material to watch on-demand.

These images display various types of business models, including subscription models as demonstrated by Netflix, and the freemium model as demonstrated by Dropbox.
These images illustrate various types of business models, including subscription-based models exemplified by Netflix

Users with a Netflix subscription can access their huge inventory of entertainment in numerous genres and languages. They may stream content directly to their devices, which include smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs, and game consoles, allowing them to view their favorite movies and TV shows whenever and wherever they have an internet connection.

The service offers various subscription plans with different pricing tiers and features, allowing customers to choose the one that best suits their preferences and needs.


Users are warmly welcome to try out a basic version of a product or service for free to pique their interest and provide a taste of what lies beneath.

They can pay for premium features once their desire for improved capability has been ignited.

Example: Dropbox is a cloud storage service that allows users to securely store and retrieve files, documents, photographs, and other material on remote servers over the internet.

These images display various types of business models, including the freemium model as demonstrated by Dropbox.
These images illustrate various types of business models, including freemium models exemplified by Dropbox.

One of Dropbox's primary features is that it offers customers a set amount of free storage space when they sign up. This free storage is usually limited, but it allows users to save a significant quantity of data for free. When users reach the storage limit, they can upgrade to a premium plan, which provides extra capacity and features.


This strategy captures clients' attention by providing an attractive value proposition. They receive a slew of appealing items put together at an unbeatable rate.

Consider Microsoft Office, a software suite that includes key tools such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Instead of purchasing each application separately, Microsoft bundles them together, providing clients with a more cost-effective and enticing bargain.

It's a win-win situation for all parties, as users gain access to great productivity tools while Microsoft increases sales by offering an easy and tempting package.


A platform that connects buyers and sellers while also enabling transactions.

Within the digital sphere, it has grown into an awe-inspiring platform that transcends borders, allowing customers to discover a diverse range of items while providing merchants with unprecedented global reach.

Example: Amazon is a big online marketplace that brings together a diverse range of merchants and products.

Amazon, as one of the world's leading e-commerce platforms, enables sellers from around the world to set up virtual stores and exhibit their products to millions of potential customers. Individuals, small enterprises, and even major organizations can be among these sellers.


Individuals market products or services in exchange for a commission on each sale or lead generated.

The affiliate model invites enterprising individuals, bloggers, and influencers to become brand advocates for well-known products or services. Affiliates earn commissions for each successful sale or lead they inspire via their persuasive ability in this enthralling alliance. They earn commissions for each successful sale or lead they inspire through their persuasive prowess.

This concept, which fosters a mutually beneficial environment, increases brand exposure and customer engagement while empowering affiliates to effectively monetize their impact.

Example: Affiliate marketing is a prominent online marketing method that allows bloggers and other content creators to promote products from online stores in exchange for commissions on successful referrals.

All parties involved benefit from affiliate marketing. The blogger generates passive income by marketing things that they genuinely enjoy or believe are relevant to their audience. The blogger's promotional activities boost the internet shop's exposure and possible sales. Finally, the readers benefit from the blogger's useful product recommendations and insights.

It's a win-win situation that has turned into a big money stream for many bloggers as well as a cost-effective marketing avenue for online retailers.


Entrepreneurs can use an existing company's brand and assistance to run a business in exchange for fees and royalties.

The franchisor, with its storied brand, time-tested products, and invaluable guidance, opens its arms to enthusiastic franchisees, who, in turn, ardently wield the emblem of the brand, spreading its legacy far and wide.

In the spirit of collaboration, franchisors share their knowledge, infrastructure, and resources with franchisees in exchange for fees and royalties, enabling a shared journey to wealth.

Example: McDonald's is a well-known fast-food corporation that provides franchise possibilities to entrepreneurs interested in opening and operating their own McDonald's locations.

McDonald's success has relied heavily on franchising, which helps the corporation expand quickly and reach markets all over the world. Franchisees benefit from being linked with a well-known and recognized brand, as well as from using McDonald's enormous knowledge and marketing ability to manage a successful fast-food business.

Pay As You Go

Instead of a flat fee or subscription, customers are charged based on their usage. This strategy stands out as an appealing departure from typical payment structures since it aligns costs with actual use.

This flexible approach frees clients from the constraints of fixed contracts and subscriptions, allowing them to pay only for what they use, creating a tangible sense of financial freedom and personalized value.

Example: Cell phone firms have devised an ingenious method of providing their clients with flexible plans. They provide pay-as-you-go plans in which you only pay for what you use, whether it's minutes, data, or messages.

Customers like this strategy because it gives them more control over their spending and allows them to customize their programs to their own demands. It's a good approach for cellphone carriers to recruit a wider spectrum of users and keep them satisfied with the flexibility and openness of their bills.

Final Thoughts

For a company to be successful, its business model must outline its profit-making strategy, target market, and estimated expenses.

Different business models cater to different customer preferences and market dynamics, allowing companies to adapt to changing circumstances. Whether it's through traditional retail, innovative subscription services, or leveraging affiliates, businesses can find the right model to thrive.

A company's ability to grow, sustain, and succeed over the long term depends on its understanding of and ability to choose the right business model.

Choosing the right business model is easier with the help of advisors like Compass CPA.

Contact us today!

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