An Introduction to Lean Canvas for Emerging Businesses

by: Meera Unni

Lean Canvas is an exciting  tool that lets new and emerging entrepreneurs model their business plans in a short, efficient, one page diagram. Using Lean Canvas quickly identifies factors to prioritize while also creating an effective jumping off point for brainstorming.

Instead of making a long, detailed business plan that could take several weeks, Lean Canvas can be effectively set up in a matter of hours. Here are the nine sections covered with Lean Canvas:

The Problem: Here you’ll classify the three issues that your product/service works to solve. Why would customers resort to using your service? Customers are drawn into businesses that work to solve their most pressing problems. By stating your three most common problems, you will begin to understand  what your target customers are looking for – and how to build a business that speaks to their needs.

Customer Segments: Closely following the problem you’re solving is who you’re solving it for. In this section, new businesses need to consider who they are marketing to and who would use their product/service. Targeting the wrong group can lead to a waste of time and money.

Unique Value Proposition: Use this section to brag about your business. Don’t be shy! Let your customers know why they should buy your product or service. What are the benefits that you are uniquely positioned to offer? What makes your business special and why should customers pick you over your competition?

The Solution: It may be obvious, but once you identify your problem you need to explain your solution. Lean Canvas walks users through how to explain their solutions by getting them out of the office to interact with potential customers. By asking the right questions you will identify the top three solutions you can offer your customer to address their needs and successfully build a business.

Channels: Channels are what help your company market to the people who will use your product the most (radio, TV, blogs, articles…etc.) So you need to identify  the best ways to get in touch with your various customer segments. Each provides a different way to access your customers and build relationships in the right way for your business model.

Revenue Streams:  One of the most important things for your startup is how it will make money. The Revenue Streams section of the model is for you to list how you plan to make money, how much you will charge for your product or service, or how much your ideal customer would be willing to pay for it. What forms of revenue will keep your business alive and prospering?

Cost Structure: This is where you will list the costs it will take to run your business successfully. What are the costs is will take to get up and running? With each key resource used, what is the price that goes along with it? Your startup resource costs are important, for it tells you whether you are investing too much money into a product that may not bring back enough profit for you to recover from your expenses.

Key Metrics: What must you keep track of to know your business is successful? These are measures of different factors of a business, ranging from the operating productivity to customer loyalty and sales revenue. Key metrics are factors that will help you be able to tell if your product is surviving in the market and if it is making a profit.

Unfair Advantages: This should be a section where the business owner explains why their product is something that cannot be redone, bought, or copied by another. These unfair advantages have to be something that you already have within your startup. It cannot be something you hope to have once you launch your business.

Lean Canvas is a great way to put your plans into action. It is a great way for potential businesses to think realistically about their product or service and what can be the benefits and downfalls that they may not have considered previously. It is a time efficient and effective model that encourages business owners and entrepreneurs to think with a broader perspective to help them be successful in a competitive environment.

New to Pathway WBC? The starting point for all of our clients is Blue Sky.

During this hands-on workshop, we’ll explore these questions and complete a business assessment to help you develop an action plan to achieve your business goals. This two-hour workshop is the best place to learn how Pathway WBC supports entrepreneurs. You’ll walk away with a clear vision of your path to success, and how Pathway WBC can support you along the way.

Ready to take a Blue Sky? Register online today!