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Key Resources Building Block in Business Model Canvas

17 min read

Innovation

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Key resources in Business Model Canvas

In the Business Model Canvas, Key Resources appear within the Operating Model. They also play a large role when you’re examining innovation’s risks.

Within the Business Model Canvas, the Key Resources Building Block plays an important role in understanding what we have available to fuel our innovation, as well as understanding where a key resource is missing.

eXtended Business Model Canvas
The UNITE eXtended Business Model Canvas
Designed by: Digital Leadership AG – Building on the work of Alexander Osterwalder, the Lean Canvas and the thinking of Patrick Stahler

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What are Key Resources?

Your company’s key resources are the primary inputs you use to create your value proposition, serve its customer segment, and deliver the product or service to the customer. These are the most critical things that you need for your business model’s success. Business models often rely on both tangible and intangible resources,

Identify and list your Key Resources, which can be categorized into physical, financial, intellectual property, and unique people skillsets. Particularly focus on the core and differentiating strengths or capabilities that you may be able to leverage.

Every business model succeeds or fails on how key resources are found and used. In short, we can use our Key Resources to build our value proposition by best utilizing our talented human resources and other assets.

Related: Business Capability Map: A Practical Business Approach

Different Types Of Key Resources

Every model template includes Key Resources, Key Resources can look differently depending on the focus of each specific template, to make conceptualizing your Key Resources easier, however, we usually think about them as falling into one of four categories.

The types of Key Resources include Human resources, Financial resources, Physical resources, and Intellectual resources. They are each outlined below.

Human Resources

These are your people. Someone has to enact innovation. Ultimately, your human resources do the work of transformation. You’ll need to ensure that your workforce has the skills necessary to move the business forward. Don’t ignore your key partners at this stage, outside organizations may have human resources that you can use with only minor investments.

As you complete a Business Model Canvas, you reflect on the people you’ll ask to do your work. Simply, do you have the bodies in place necessary to put your innovation plans in motion? 

Managers can influence the performance of their human resources in a number of ways. An incentive system rewards performance, though it can be controversial in how they’re applied, be sure to completely think through the incentives you offer, and how employees can obtain them because a poorly-applied incentive system can ruin morale and negatively impact performance.

Human resources can also be influenced through organizational schemes. Innovation teams, specifically formed, can have a tremendous effect on the direction a company takes. Other types of organizational designs can funnel talent toward specific tasks or challenges. Good managers know how to best leverage the human resources they have, encouraging the creativity and insight it takes to be truly innovative, they also recognize when an organization would benefit from hiring key employees who will help plans move forward productively.

Human Key Resources Examples:

  • People who create the product or service
  • Truck drivers who deliver products
  • Customer service agents
  • Managers who oversee production
  • Salespeople
  • Human resources employees
  • Information technology staff

Financial Resources

The numbers are the numbers. The funds you have available, either on hand or at reasonable interest, are your Financial Resources.

When considering your Financial Resources, don’t neglect your access to capital markets. Can you borrow funds? Does it make sense to go into debt? Properly applying credit might give you the opportunity to begin innovation that promotes lasting growth.

Financial Key Resources Examples:

  • Cash: money or its equivalent.
  • Bank Deposits: money placed into banks, including checking accounts and money market accounts.
  • Holdings of Stocks: publicly traded stocks can be easily converted to cash, and are considered financial resources of an organization. These stocks are traded on stock exchanges, like the NASDAQ or the NYSE. It takes only a few minutes to sell stocks on the market.
  • Holdings of Publicly Traded Bonds: There are various types of bonds that can be included in the financial resources of an organization: U.S. government securities, mortgage bonds, foreign bonds, corporate bonds, etc…,
  • Foreign Currency Holdings: These are currencies issued in another country. Foreign currencies can be held in a local or in a foreign bank. Foreign currency can be quickly converted to local currency, thus they are considered part of the financial resources of an organization. Also, many international companies need to hold amounts of foreign currency to carry out their operations, like selling abroad or paying foreign suppliers.
  • Checks: checks are instruments that contain an order that directs a bank to pay an amount of money to the check holder. Checks can be easily converted to money, and sometimes, checks can be used to pay suppliers: checks are financial assets.

Source: https://economicpoint.com/financial-resources-examples

Physical Resources

These are your tangible resources, including capital-intensive production facilities, materials, supplies, property, and equipment. Maybe you have storage areas full of raw materials, or pallets loaded with products. Or maybe you have a point of sales system shared across distribution networks. Consumer goods companies are likely to have vast physical resources, while creative industries might rely heavily on their human resources and less on manufacturing facilities or warehouses.

Infrastructure-driven businesses are likely to have materials other businesses lack by the time they’re considering innovation. While that sort of investment can be a signal of a successful business model, it can also have the effect of paralyzing management decisions. “We have all this stuff,” decision-makers think, “and so much capital wrapped up in it, all our solutions have to justify those prior purchases.”

Clearly, that’s not a path toward innovation. It takes a brave visionary to change directions sometimes. Your physical resources don’t have functional value if they are holding you back.

This is a good place to consider some common intangible resources, also. Software, for example, would often not be thought of as a “physical resource” but purchased computer applications in the business world behave like material objects more than truly intangible resources. Related intellectual property often behaves more like a physical resource than an intangible one. Potentially substantial licensing fees for software and other technology must also be evaluated to see if it works in your business model to add value.

Physical Key Resources Examples:

  • Machinery and equipment: This includes the tools you use to make your product, as well as any machinery and equipment that goes into the manufacturing process (for example, a CNC machine).
  • Buildings and office spaces: If your business requires a physical location, this may be one of your biggest expenses.
  • Vehicles and trucks: If you’re selling a service or product that requires shipping, or if you have an on-demand delivery service for customers, vehicles are an important part of your business.
  • Point-of-sale systems: These are useful for businesses that accept in-person payments from customers.

Intellectual Resources

Your business is smart, and within its material and its people rests a vast collection of proprietary knowledge acquired through years of hard work and investment. How can you leverage what you know? In other words, what are your Intellectual Resources?

Your business model no doubt relies on what your human resources know. It’s important, then, to have a clear view of the members of your organization’s specialties, education, and experience. They are potentially untapped key resources that can add to your value proposition.

Knowledge management must be part of your overall innovation strategy. Your customer databases must be properly protected and utilized. What kind of information do you keep in those customer databases, and are you properly taking advantage of what you know about your customers? Are you similarly tracking other key partners so you can work with them in the most productive ways?

You should also consider how you’re developing your Intellectual Resources. Many successful business enterprises install a corporate university to educate and train their human resources in-house. That’s a cost-effective way of growing from within that isn’t necessarily capital intensive.

Intellectual Key Resources Examples:

  • Systems and processes
  • Customer knowledge
  • Customer databases
  • Branding
  • Copyrights and patents

Between Key Resources And The Value Proposition

Value Proposition Canvas
The UNITE Value Proposition Canvas
Designed by: Digital Leadership AG – Based on the work of Peter Thomson which is based on the work of Steve Blank, Clayton Christensen, Seith Godin, Yves Pigneur and Alex Osterwalder and the original Value Proposition Canvas

Your Key Resources make your business what it is: only you have that particular collection of people, customer knowledge, and key abilities. Taken together, they encircle how you build your value propositions and conduct your key activities.

Key Resources play an important role in expanding business and value, and so are a big element of The UNITE Exponential Growth Canvas. Consider each particular customer segment and connect them to their most important key resource. You’ll have a better understanding of what is really important within your business model.

Key Resources and Different Types of Business Models

A business model is a framework within which a company offers products or services to customers. It includes the structure, key resources, and processes that enable a firm to create, deliver, and capture value. The study of business models is called management science.

Businesses use business models to compete in the market and achieve sustainable success. A successful business model is one that can be replicated and can be applied to similar markets.

In general, business models separate businesses into three types:

  • Product-driven Business.
  • Scope Driven Business.
  • Infrastructure Driven Business.

Product Driven Business Key Resources

Product-driven businesses are focused on developing a product and then finding the market for it. This is the opposite of the market-driven model where companies focus on what customers want, then develop products to meet those needs.

The product-driven model is generally used by smaller companies that have a specific niche or audience in mind. For example, if you have a product that solves a specific problem for a certain group of consumers, then that’s who you’ll market your product to. This can be particularly effective when you have limited funds but still want to make sure your business has some level of growth potential.

The Key resources of these companies are human and intellectual because they usually are able to access intellectual property and know-how in their specific industry and particular niche.

Scope Driven Business Key Resources

The key aspect of Scope Driven Businesses is that they will have a clear idea of who their customers are and what they want from them. This means that they will have to spend time trying to understand their customer’s needs and wants before they even consider creating any products or services for them.

The key resources for such a business include:

  • An understanding of what your company does best and how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • A clearly defined target customer segment.
  • An understanding of who it is that you want to serve and how they think, behave, feel and believe.

Infrastructure Driven Business Key Resources

Infrastructure driven business refers to companies that make their earnings by utilizing their infrastructure, For Example:

In the Telecommunications industry, it requires an initial large investment in infrastructure. After that, it will reap the benefits over time with just a small investment to keep its systems up to date,

Amazon is also an infrastructure-driven business because its main function is selling products online. The company can leverage its scale by using economies of scale to drive down costs and increase profits.

The key resources for an infrastructure-driven business are:

  • Infrastructure (network, platform, etc.)
  • Brand name
  • User base

Identifying Your Key Resources

Building a strong business model requires attention to all available key resources. We find it useful to brainstorm lists of resources with a variety of team members. Human resources employees will recognize opportunities that a warehouse employee won’t know about, but the warehouse worker will be really smart about logistical matters.

Your IT specialist has insights into your telecommunications infrastructure while your accountant can identify vendor financing opportunities. Each resource mentioned by your team is analyzed and evaluated for its importance in your overall value proposition.

Reflect on the key resources listed in your brainstorming. How do they contribute to your overall business model, and what is missing? Innovation isn’t just a dream; most businesses can identify increasingly important components to their growth efforts as their plans progress.

Connecting The Dots: The UNITE Business Model Framework

How to Create Innovation includes a number of canvases that focus on value creation and finding the right business model to meet your customer segment and customer needs. The framework is built to inspire drastic changes that help you find a competitive advantage. Our hope is that your company grows through business model innovation, and so we again encourage you to look deeper into our website and the book.

Here is a summary of the key ingredients of the framework:

The UNITE Business Model Framework
The UNITE Business Model Framework
Designed By: Digital Leadership AG

Business Models

The centerpiece is the Business Model Canvas, which covers the six main areas of a Business Model (the Operating, Value, Service, Experience, Cost, and Revenue Models).

The eXtended Business Model Canvas adds the immediate business context, including Business Drivers, customers, and the team, as well as the Unfair Advantage.

Detailed Models

A Business Model can be broken out into its numerous aspects. Depending on what challenges you face, you can zoom in on your area of interest using an appropriate tool or canvas:

  • Your Business Intention and objectives as well as your Massive Transformative Purpose summarize your drivers and give direction to what you do.
  • The Value Proposition Canvas details the central components of your offering (the product or service).
  • To dig into your Customer Segments, work with data-driven Personas.
  • The JTBD Customer Job Statement and Job Map frame the JTBD of your customers.
  • The Business Model Environment puts your Business Model in a market context composed of emerging trends and disruptive forces.
  • The Innovation Culture Canvas helps you understand and consciously shape a culture that supports innovation.
  • The Innovation team structure enables you to draft a team structure for your innovation initiative.
  • Using learning and growth metrics, you can measure progress at the initial stages of development. These metrics help you focus on what really matters instead of creating a detailed business plan that will not really help you. Later on, you can expand the financial aspect of the Revenue and Cost Models with a full business case.
  • The Operating Model Canvas helps you think through the Operating Model.

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