A Tale of Two Business Canvases

Back in September, I wrote about the Business Model Canvas, a powerful tool for rapidly capturing your business model.  However, I have found some of the categories in the business model canvas to feel a bit abstract.  So, I have found myself gravitating instead to a variant of the Business Model Canvas created by Ash Maurya called the Lean Canvas.  His goal when creating the Lean Canvas was "making it as actionable as possible while staying entrepreneur-focused."  In doing so, Ash retained four of the original boxes, tweaked one box (Value Propositions) and replaced four of the boxes from the Business Model Canvas. See below for how the boxes compare between the two canvases.

On Both Canvases

Customer Segments

Who are you serving?


How do you communicate with and deliver your value to your customers?

Revenue Streams

Which customer segments pay you? How do they pay you?

Cost Structure

What are the main expenses involved in serving your customers?

Lean Canvas Only

Unique Value Propositions

A clear, compelling message that states why you are different and worth buying.

Unfair Advantage

What is it about you that can't be easily copied or bought by competitors?

Key Metrics

What key customer activities do you measure to check your progress?


What are your top 3 features for solving your customers' top 3 problems?


What are the top 3 customer problems that you are solving?

Business Model Canvas Only

Value Propositions

What customer needs are you satisfying?

Customer Relationships

How do you interact with your customers?

Key Resources

What things (physical, intellectual, etc.) do you rely on to serve your customers?

Key Activities

What do you need to do to serve your customers?

Key Partnerships

Who must you work closely with to serve your customers?

In the Lean Canvas, these 9 blocks are still arranged on a one page canvas like the Business Model Canvas.  The numbers on the example below indicate the recommended order for filling out the canvas.

Which One Should You Use?

With two options for creating a one page business model, how do you decide with to use?  The truth is, either should work, so use the one that resonates the most with you.  That said, here are my thoughts on when you might choose to use one model over the other.

You might want to use the Business Model Canvas if...external partnerships are particularly important. For example:

  • You are starting a new effort within an existing business

  • You are starting a business within a regulated market

  • Your distribution to the end users of your product involves middlemen (e.g. retailers, distributors, etc.)

You might want to use the Lean Canvas if...you can rapidly test your business model and product. For example:

  • You are starting a brand new business and need to test your market

  • Your product is software as a service that can be quickly changed

No matter which template you use, a 1-page canvas is a powerful tool for turning your idea into a business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you prepare your ideas and your business for growth.