The People (Tokens) of Business Toybox
John Borden | February 19, 2018
Tokens in Business Toybox are very special. They were designed with the intent to take the common sticky-note and make it much better. Sticky-notes are good at capturing quick thoughts, but they’re not particularly great at it. They’re great for writing little reminders for yourself and attaching them in a place that you walk past every day, but I wasn’t convinced they were great at capturing ideas.
This is important, because people use sticky-notes and paper canvases a lot to create business models for their next big thing(s). They’ll use sticky-notes to capture the one word that represents an important customer segment (millenials?) but they won’t exactly capture the fine details about that customer segment that can make-or-break a business model (as a whole, millenials buy experiences, not things). You could just use even more sticky-notes to capture both the core idea and fine details around it, but that’s a lot of sticky-notes. Even if we ignore the tangible cost of all that paper and the externalized costs of the damage to the environment, you still have to confront the reality that this is going to create a big mess that will likely slow down your thinking.
So, we have Tokens.
You see, Tokens are designed to be pretty visual. Beyond capturing a simple word or short phrase, they also come with a simple image. This seems small, but this is actually a pretty big deal. Images can capture and convey more information than simple words, which helps explain why emojis are used so often 😄😄😄. Tokens also have this pretty cool ability to add clusters of color-coded words and phrases around them, but we won’t get into that now. Today we’re going to focus on something else.
Namely, we’ve updated some of our Tokens, and the the people Tokens are pretty cool.
The Primordial Person
In the beginning Tokens looked nothing remotely like they do now. To be honest, they looked like crap and made me slightly uneasy any time I looked at them. Let’s move on, I still cringe when I look at old screenshots.
Tokens eventually got a huge facelift and wound up looking more-or-less like what they look like now, only cruder and with less variation. I did all the graphics myself, which is honestly not a super idea in general when you come from a programming background and have zero experience doing graphic design professionally. Still, I tried, and the results were…not bad.
There were technically 3 different Tokens representing people at the time. However, they all used the same picture of a thing that vaguely looked like a person only with weird proportions. This same strange, blocky man was designed to represent an ordinary person, a hipster (I thought it would be kinda funny to include that), and a business person. The designs weren’t good, but they weren’t bad either, and for that reason I just kept them around for now until I could dedicate the time and effort to make them look better.
That brings us to the present day. After some practice and dedication, my graphic design skills got good enough to where I was able to take simple shapes and turn them into more interesting shapes. A lot of the Tokens got minor re-designs, some where removed entirely and replaced with better ones, and the Tokens representing people got yet another huge facelift.
The first Token on our list is the Person Token. I’m going to keep this part short, because this Token is designed to be used to represent no one in particular. It’s a generic person designed to be flexibly used to represent multiple customer demographics for your business model. No need to stop there though, you can use these Tokens to represent things like key partners and key resources (employees) as well. Go crazy!
The Hipster Mister
The second Token on our list is the Hipster Token. This Token honestly started out as a joke and as filler material (I really wanted 16 starting Tokens). Still, it’s a Token to be taken seriously. Society jokes about Hipsters a lot, but without them vinyl record stores, craft breweries, and hip coffee shops would get a lot less business, just to name a few. In other words, they’re a pretty powerful customer demographic. There’s also the stereotypes about Hipsters working in certain industries (baristas, designers, web developers), so you might use the Hipster Token as a more accurate reflection of what your employees might look like.
Last but certainly not least is the Business Person Token. This one is pretty special. In the United States most entrepreneurs tend to be white followed by latino founders who come in at a distant 2nd. By contrast, only about 1% of all venture capitalist backed entrepreneurs are black. That’s kinda crazy. Statistics like these were in the back of my mind when I designed the Business Person Token.
So I made the person who represents the Business Person black. He’s a black entrepreneur.
I believe in Business Toybox enough to believe that one day it could change the world in both big and subtle ways. I didn’t want to use this power to simply enable the status quo to keep going. I want it to be used to solve the problems typically overlooked or seen as too hard, such as changing the makeup of society to make it a more equitable place. I also believe that we need more people solving these problems who don’t fit in to the mold of the “traditional entrepreneur”. We need smart people. Doers and makers. These people come from all backgrounds and all places in life. Business Toybox is lovingly designed to ensure that everyone using it feels like a real entrepreneur.
The design of the Business Person Token is a small detail I added to reflect my thoughts and intents. It shows that makers and doers need not necessarily come from a very specific social demographic
More Coming Soon
Right now there’s just 3 Tokens representing people, but that will eventually change. As I briefly mentioned earlier, originally the goal was for 16 starting Tokens because it seemed like a good number to give the sense that there’s variety to choose from, but not enough to overwhelm you.
That being said, I’ve talked to quite a few of you in-person, and an important insight that keeps coming up again-and-again is that the Tokens are pretty good for business models catered towards products, especially software products, but they fall short in other areas. A lot of you own a service-based business or a non-profit. Business Toybox is still a great fit for you, it’s just that the Tokens may not best represent the ideas that make up what you’re trying to build as well as they could.
So, expect to see more Tokens pretty soon, especially people Tokens, with a greater variety of diversity to represent the modern globalized society that we live in. To get there we’ll need to re-design the way you’re able to pick Tokens so that you can navigate through potentially hundreds of Tokens with ease, so it’s going to take a little bit of time, but not too much. Stay tuned!