"Business model" was one of the great buzz-words of the Internet boom. A company didn't need a strategy, a special competence, or even any customers--all it needed was a Web-based business model that promised wild profits in some distant, ill-defined future. Many people--investors, entrepreneurs, and executives alike--fell for the fantasy and got burned. And as the inevitable counterreaction played out, the concept of the business model fell out of fashion nearly as quickly as the .com appendage itself. That's a shame. As Joan Magretta explains, a good business model remains essential to every successful organization, whether it's a new venture or an established player. To help managers apply the concept successfully, she defines what a business model is and how it complements a smart competitive strategy. Business models are, at heart, stories that explain how enterprises work. Like a good story, a robust business model contains precisely delineated characters, plausible motivations, and a plot that turns on an insight about value. It answers certain questions: Who is the customer? How do we make money? What underlying economic logic explains how we can deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost? Every viable organization is built on a sound business model, but a business model isn't a strategy, even though many people use the terms interchangeably. Business models describe, as a system, how the pieces of a business fit together. But they don't factor in one critical dimension of performance: competition. That's the job of strategy. Illustrated with examples from companies like American Express, EuroDisney, WalMart, and Dell Computer, this article clarifies the concepts of business models and strategy, which are fundamental to every company's performance.