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What is lean canvas

Olga Galik
・3 min read

You need a plan. That’s what start-up entrepreneurs are told when they take the first step in turning their ideas into a profitable venture. The entrepreneurial journey is so fast-paced that you stand to veer off target if you’re not armed with a plan.

Yet, if you turn to conventional planning tools like the business model canvas, you’ll end up spending too much time researching matters that are not relevant at the startup stage. This is where the lean canvas proves to be handy, a quicker way to provide an accurate idea of the key variables relevant to your startup.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what lean canvas is all about and why it’s best suited for startups.

What Is Lean Canvas?
The lean canvasis a business modeling template based on the conventional business model canvas. It was created by Ash Maurya, where he made changes to the business model canvas to suit a startup’s needs. The lean canvas consists of nine blocks, each indicating key elements vital for a startup’s success.

A startup’s success is determined by how it’s able to move quickly against the market forces. Its priority is the customers, their problems, and offering solutions that work. The founder cannot afford to spend precious time making lengthy business plans at that stage.

The lean canvas is built with efficiency in mind. It removes 4 original blocks from the business model canvas that are not relevant for a startup and replaces them with important blocks for startups.

Here are the different blocks in a lean canvas

  • Customer segments
  • Problems
  • Revenue streams
  • Solution
  • Unique value proposition
  • Channels
  • Key metrics
  • Cost structure
  • Unfair advantage.

The Problems, Solutions, Metrics, and Unfair Advantage are blocks introduced in the lean canvas. They are relevant to the startup’s circumstances and allow founders to be more solution-focused when crafting their business plans.

The lean canvas is meant as a 1-page template for founders to quickly put their plans onto paper for an overall picture. It serves as the basis to create solutions and test them early on—all that without sitting down and drafting a 30 pages business plan.

Why Lean Canvas Is The Best Option For Startups?
Startup founders, whose most precious commodity is time, have found the lean canvas to be the perfect tool in charting their business plan. If you’re just stepping into the entrepreneurial world, you’ll want to use lean canvas too.

Here’s why.
**Quick creation and update **
You can build your own lean canvas template or download them from the internet. It only takes a single piece of paper to print it out and start drafting on it. Or you could stick with the digital version. If you already have a solid plan in your mind, it doesn’t take much time to organize them on the template.

A startup has to deal with changes almost every day. It is susceptible to many elements, and the path may change to adapt to market circumstances. The lean canvas is meant as a template that you could update as your business grows. For example, you may have discovered an untapped marketing channel to reach your customer, and you can add it to the Channel block.

The Unfair Advantage is an interesting block on the lean canvas. Do you offer the best technical expertise in the industry? Or delivery speed way faster than competitors? Jot them down and leverage them to give your startup a competitive edge in the market.

Easily shareable
When you’re running a startup, you will eventually need a team. Onboarding is a tricky process for a budding startup, and you’ll need each team member to understand how the company works quickly. Sharing the lean canvas is an easy way to get all members on the same page in understanding the company.

Being a single-page document, it doesn’t take much effort to print a copy for your team or to drop one in their inbox.

There are times when you’ll need to write lengthy business plans, but that’s when you’re pitching to investors. At the early stage, you’ll want to form a plan and validate its viability in little time. That’s where you’ll find lean canvas helpful.

Each of the blocks is well-defined with the type of ideas or points to fill in. It’s a norm to fill in those blocks with key points, which are short and concise.

As far as business planning is concerned, the lean canvas is the ideal tool for startup founders. Its straight-to-the-point template allows founders to bring clarity to their business ideas quickly.

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