Entrepreneurs and Innovators Need Lean Canvas Models for Their Businesses: Learn Why

Knowledge-sharing is one of Mana Tech’s core values, so we’re offering a guide on how to effectively utilize this tool for business planning.

Feb 20, 2024 · 6 Minute Read

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This article was written by Mana Tech’s Managing Director, Charly Esnal.

A Lean Canvas Model or a Business Model Canvas? Many entrepreneurs are met with this dilemma before they start deconstructing their startup into one of these two templates.

Whereas a Business Model Canvas could be great for your growth or investment stage, it also takes much time to complete (can be up to a couple of months) and requires many assets and work to conduct properly. So, Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas Models?

The answer is simple: If you’re a startup founder, go with the Lean Canvas Model, and here’s why: the BMC (Business Model Canvas) is too extensive, and like many other things in the startup world – think WOW! Statements, for example – explaining what you do needs to be short and straight to the point. One sentence more than necessary, and the consequence could be your reader’s loss of interest.

What Is The Lean Canvas Model?

The Lean Canvas Model is Ash Maurya’s adaptation to the original Business Model Canvas, first introduced by Alex Osterwalder. According to him, it’s “a one-page business planning tool that gets read.”

Maurya’s Lean Canvas solution is to break down your startup’s fundamental why into a one-page template that can be used for any business type and be read in under 20 minutes. It packs everything you need-and possibly more-in a template that’s easy to read, fill, and update.

It also features a sort of “Easter Egg” category (the Unfair Advantage), which can be tricky to find but will give you a competitive edge when explaining why your business is so great to potential investors.

The Lean Canvas Model is ideal for startups, and as a startup founder, it’s crucial that you understand its importance and how to build one for your business. Let’s start by looking at a Lean Canvas Model template and defining how to fill each category.

There are nine categories, or blocks, in the Lean Canvas Model Framework. Each needs to be filled out following this particular order:


According to Ash Maurya, arranging the information in this fashion allows you to test each category of your business model, starting from the highest to lowest risk. Also, note that by starting with the Problem category, the Lean Canvas Model gives your business model a customer problem-focus approach, allowing you to build more effective solutions for your customers’ pain points.

How Do You Fill Your Lean Canvas Model?

The remainder of the article correctly outlines the steps to fill out a Lean Canvas Model, emphasizing the iterative process and customer-centric approach.

#1 Customer Segments And Early Adopters

To complete your Lean Canvas Model, Maurya suggests to begin by defining your customer segments. Approach this block with your customer’s problem in mind (which is the following block to fill). These two are intrinsically connected,so keep that in mind when completing this part of the template.
Start by asking yourself questions about your business:

  • Who is going to use your product or service?
  • Who will benefit from it?
  • What are the key demographics of your target audience?
  • What specific pain points are they experiencing?

Identifying your early adopters is crucial because as the word suggests, they will likely be your first customers. If you’re unsure how to pinpoint your potential early adopters, check out this article.

#2 Problem And Existing Alternatives

What are your customers’ top three pain points? Describe their needs in simple terms, avoiding technical jargon.
When thinking about your customers’ top three pain points, think about their existing solutions, too. Is someone already out there doing something similar? How are they solving their customers’ needs? The key here is to conduct market research on your competitors so that you may identify your unique value proposition.

#3 Unique Value Proposition And High-Level Concept

Defining your unique value proposition is the core of the Lean Canvas Model, and it’s also typically the most challenging step to complete.
To write a great value proposition statement in under 200 characters, think about the benefits that your customers will have received from using your product. So, this step involves going back to the first few steps:

  • Understanding your customers’ pain points
  • Understanding the problem you are solving
  • Understanding how your product/service solves that problem and the benefits your customers will get out of it

Your high-level concept is like your elevator pitch. You’ll need to break down what you do into the shortest, clearest sentence possible so that it can be used for VC pitches, press releases, and all sorts of communications. If your sentence is too long, it means you still don’t have a clear grasp of what you do and what you offer.

#4 Solution

Reflect on your customers’ problem and outline how you plan to solve it. Clearly articulate your solution so that it’s easily understandable for anyone.

#5 Channels

Once you’ve established how your business solves a genuine customer need and defined that need, it’s time to choose the channels through which you’ll sell your product and attract new customers. Aim for up to 3 channels; having more can be counterproductive.

#6 Revenue Streams

How are you planning to charge for your services? This block aims to clarify that. Choose your revenue streams of preference.

#7 Cost Structure

After completing your business idea validation process, you’ll have a clear picture of your fixed costs. However,to jump ahead, jot down the expenses you already know, leaving the minutiae for later.

#8 Key Metrics

Clear metrics are essential for analyzing what’s effective and what needs adjustment. So, define which metrics you’ll track. For instance, measuring the number of purchases, abandoned carts, the number of signups, etc.

#9 Unfair Advantage

Last but definitely not least is your unfair advantage. This is the most critical step of the process because it’s what will differentiate you from competitors. Summarizing into a few words what makes your business unique and superior to the competition is tricky as it requires some serious thought. However, once you do, that’s when the good stuff starts happening.

Parting Thoughts

If you’re an entrepreneur or startup founder, diving into a Lean Canvas is essential. It clarifies your business model and provides valuable guidance throughout your journey, from getting those initial customers to securing investor funding.

However, filling out a Lean Canvas is just the beginning. The real challenge lies in implementation. Putting your research and business insights into action will give you the real insight you need.

So, do you have your Lean Canvas Model ready? If not, it’s time to get started! Sign up for our newsletter to receive more entrepreneurial knowledge.

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