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People often throw around the term business model in discussing startups. After sharing the idea of the business model canvas, developed by Alexander Osterwalder to help entrepreneurs design a customized business model, I gave the Chinese executives an hour to "paint" a new business idea. I recently spent three hours with some clients, executives from Beijing, to discuss these questions: I presented several business models and their financial benefits.

A business model explains which consumer pain your startup chooses to relieve, why your solution works better than competing ones and how big a wedge a company can drive between what customers are willing to pay and the costs.

(We did not use the interactive tool; they wrote their choices on a white board and addressed the class in Chinese.

That’s the idea behind person-to-person business models. With 600,000 listings in 34,000 cities, Airbnb has people pay 3 percent to list their accommodations and the renters fork over 6 percent to 12 percent.

With a quarter billion in revenue, Airbnb was recently valued at $10 billion.

That’s the idea behind e Bay, of course, and it keeps working because buyers and sellers give each other very tough ratings and the use of Pay Pal provides a level of security in case things don’t work out.

The financial results for e Bay indicate that this model works but it’s hardly a booming one.

Some young professionals living in the city need a car seven days a week to commute and do errands.

Find trustworthy people who will pay to drive those cars, and both sides will be better off.

Its revenue per employee (with 1,774 employees in total) is on average more than 4,000.

Related: Airbnb Could Be Joining the Billion Valuation Club 6. A company has a couple of cars that sit in the garage for all but three days a month.

Then deliver the lower costs to customers in the form of lower prices. Figure out how to run a local retailer and turn this business wisdom into a system that can be sold to entrepreneurs around the world.

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