“What business are you in?” sounds like a simple question. But it’s not. How you define your business determines which direction your firm can go. Based on your answer, you define and limit your strategic options.
In a company, the business model is defined by a dominant group of people. They have a common understanding of what business they are in and how they create value. However, the business model is not an absolute reality. It’s a social construct of dominant opinion makers, e.g. your top management. This is important to understand.
By taking a different look at your business, and thereby challenging your dominant logic, you can identify more and different strategic options for your firm. But beware; by doing so, you are also challenging the top dogs in your firm.
Life is not that simple. Changing perspectives by xkcd.com
How you define your business depends on the dominant logic of your management
Considering the definition of what a business model is, it seems easy to describe the business model of a company. You can use the business model canvas (Alex Osterwalder‘s or mine) and then you describe how value is created. Often we assume that regardless of who describes the business model, we will end up with the same description. This is a mistake.