Just finished reading Business Model Generation. In spite of its rather pretentious subtitle, it's a very good handbook on understanding, in broad terms, how a business works.

Basically, it says you need to answer nine questions: what the business offers customers, whom it targets, what it does, what its assets are, how it reaches existing and new customers, who it works with, what its costs are, and where it gets its revenue from. Once you have these answers, you can lay them out pictorially on a canvas and this gives you an ensemble view of how the business functions. Then, you can play around with the components of this canvas and see what effects the changes have. The book also has a lot of examples.

They say the book is for professional managers and entrepreneurs, but it's also a great introduction for people who had no previous framework to reason about these things.
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