16 blocks to visualize your business model
All our business model examples are visualized with this set of 16 building blocks. To give more insight in how this works, we give a brief overview of the different building blocks. Using a common, visual language enables you to easily communicate business models to different audiences, to learn from successful models in other industries, and to quickly generate new variations and business models of the future.
Once you grasp the building blocks below, check out our business model tools to design your own business model in seconds. Share the results in your organization and let us know what you think about this method.
Part I: Six players
1. Your organization
This is where your business model starts to get shape. Place this block in the center and build your model around it.
2. The company
The second most important block is the company. In most models this will be the actor that offers a product or service.
3. The consumer
The one that receives the product and gives something in return, is the consumer. In B2B models, the client is a company and will therefore be illustrated with the previous company icon. The general company-client relation is the same in both business systems.
Although we prefer not to include much of the secondary stakeholders, sometimes it is relevant to show how the supplier side of a business system works. This icon can also be used for service suppliers like web or marketing agencies.
Unions or charity organizations are not focused on making money but often they do haven an impact on your organization. If relevant you can add this player to the system.
Many companies do not like the involvement of a government on their business model, except when they have some money to offer.
Part II: Ten items to transfer
The first, most straightforward offer to clients is an actual product, ranging from basic commodities up to finished goods. A BMW car is one example, but today also digital products can be included.
A first way to upgrade your business model is to offer a service next to the product. BMW in this case will not only sell you a car, but will include maintenance and other services around the product. Of course, a lot of companies offer only services without product.
The two concepts of product and service are commonly applied throughout our economy. In the last years, several companies have moved a step further by offering an experience to customers. BMW does not sell a car with a service in this case, but a driving experience.
Today, the next upgrade to reputation can only be found in a few sectors. In these cases, ‘reputation’ selling can be described as the most essential brand experience. If you take the example of BMW, then you could say that some people don’t see their BMW as a driving experience but as the core values and reputation of the brand as such. Hereby, customers are able to shape their own identity with that of the company. Typically reputation will be placed in the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which makes this type of transaction extremely valuable to companies.
The typical currency that clients pay with, is money – which is critical to company’s revenue models. This is in contrast to exchange. The building blocks make a differentiation between two types of money. This first icon represents the normal value of a good, including profit.
12. Less Money
This second icon represents money as well, but less than the normal amount covering cost and profit of what is offered. Usually this transaction implies that other revenue streams are added to the traditional business model.
Active exposure or attention is the next step in the evolution of currency. People are not only offering their own attention, but also that of their peers in their social environment. For some businesses the spreading of their ideas and brand values becomes more important than the immediate return in money. Of course, companies can’t just rely on active exposure, so their business model should include more players and other transactions. Many start-ups and even big web 2.0 companies are still struggling with this. There is a lot of exposure and value offered to clients, but there is no sustainable business model to capture that value in revenues and profit.
(Virtual) credit systems are on the rise. Therefor we have to add them to the business model blocks as well. Loyalty cards and similar are also covered.
Information is one of the key items that’s being transfered in modern business models. Depending on the context a mixture of ‘information’ related items (content, data, knowledge, articles,..) are being used in relation to this block.
Ownership rights, IP and even the right to emit CO2 are items that stakeholders can exchange between each other. This must be the most abstract block but is necessary to illustrate the innovativeness of several models.
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