These days, there's no such thing as 'business as usual'. The business models of the past 5 to 10 years that were relatively aloof to the adaptability required in the age of widespread web and mobile commerce have found themselves out in the cold, as the modern consumer - and the world as a whole - has moved on without them.
To break through the ever-increasing noise of the competitive marketplace, your company has to become innovative. And at the core of every modern innovation you'll find a high degree of creativity (see Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace).

Consider the following three organizations, offering products both on and off the web, who have distinguished themselves by dominating their niche (and in some cases, establishing a niche all their own).


Unlike Amazon, Best Buy or even Groupon, this online retailer takes a unique approach to their online offerings: they only sell one product per day. Building desire and purchase intent based on a foundation of urgency, Woot uses tactics that include a dedicated conversation stream, live commentary and a detailed product description. The singular-product strategy enables them to add a layer of communication as well as description to the product, harnessing the social impact many brands are using but few have been able to profit from. In addition, the concept of limited-time offerings has allowed them to add a sense of urgency to each product, driving sales by converting browsers into frenzied buyers. For example, there's no 'Add to Cart' button - shoppers click on a bright yellow oval that reads, "I want one!"

Although most businesses would have a tough time selling only one product per day, Woot's business model seems to be the next evolution in the widely-used concept of a "daily deal."

Alvarado Street Bakery

Based in Petaluma, Calif., the Alvarado Street Bakery is the largest cooperative bakery in the United States, worth a reported $25 million annually with over 100 worker-owners. Starting small in a suburb north of San Francisco, they've expanded their business from that of a local bakery to a company that now supplies fresh bread to all 50 states and even ships its products internationally - success that's largely attributed to a fierce dedication to corporate responsibility. While other manufacturers claim to strive toward a superior product, Alvarado has built their entire brand reputation around it.
To achieve that goal, they've maintained their primary base of operations as their central distribution center, freezing their sprouted bread and shipping it around the country rather than building an extensive and costly chain of bakeries. Doing so has enabled them to provide continuous employment opportunities to their neighboring community, compounded by the fact that they primarily use ingredients that are organic and locally grown whenever possible, further adding to the local economy.

Alvarado Street Bakery has built a reputation that centers on social and environmental responsibility, producing a product that meets the highest standards without compromise. And the success of their business model - growing internationally while retaining the centralized control of a small business - serves as a definitive lesson to businesses that would strive for success through outsourcing and territorial expansion.

News Corporation

With circulation down all over the world and an especially competitive market in Great Britain, News Corporation - one of the world's largest media conglomerates - has been trying to innovate new sources of revenue in an industry that many believed to be a casualty of the Internet age, much like the DVD that's been pitted against streaming content via the web.

Though not considered a startup in the traditional sense, News Corp is struggling to redefine itself by adapting to the demands of modern communication. And while many others within their industry have since shuttered their doors, News Corp isn't giving up without a fight - and actually seems to have found a solution (if only for the moment).

They began by preventing users from accessing any content for free, being the first to place all of their major publications behind a strictly regulated pay-wall, including the Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and News of the World (which has since closed under scrutiny due to a phone hacking scandal).

The second and more customer-friendly measure was to cultivate an enhanced level of interest in their publications by offering upsell value. As a result, the pages of the Times and Sunday Times are chock full of in-house ads offering bonus entertainment to readers, ranging from iPad applications to theatre tickets, Italian holidays and even a wine club. In doing so, the strategy is to entice readers into a bundle of services, similar to a mobile service or cable-TV provider, something News Corp is hoping subscribers will think twice about before canceling due to the perceived "need" for the services available in the package.