The Business Model Canvas, originally proposed by Alexander Osterwalder in 2005, is a timeless classic of business strategy frameworks. In a very simple summary view, it manages to capture the key areas of any business model; cutting through the noise of the day to day and giving managers, leaders, investors and entrepreneurs a clear sense of what's really driving (or hindering) a business' core engine.
There are several spreadsheet and powerpoint versions out there--but I haven't come across a simple, editable business model canvas template in Notion yet. So, here's one that you can duplicate to your own workspace and start using as needed.
Along with a summary table of the original business model canvas in Notion, I've also created a template button which lets you generate as many copies of the canvas, fresh, as you please. Add the template button to your common business workspaces, use it for client projects or just circle back to it when you want to give your business model a refresh.
What is the business model canvas?
The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management template used for developing new business models and documenting existing ones. It offers a visual chart with elements describing a firm's or product's value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances, assisting businesses to align their activities by illustrating potential trade-offs.
In other words, the business model canvas is a tool that can be used to map out and understand all of the important aspects of your business. This includes everything from your value proposition to your customer base to your financials. By understanding all of these different pieces, you can start to see how they all fit together and where there might be potential improvements or changes that could be made.
What are the 9 components of the business model canvas?
The 9 components that make up the original business model canvas are:
Key Partners: Who are your key partners? Who do you work with to make your business model work?
Key Activities: What are the key activities that you need to do in order to make your business model work?
Value Propositions: What value do you offer to your customers? What needs does it meet?
Customer Segments: Who are your target customers? Who will you be selling to?
Channels: How do you reach your target customers? How will they hear about you and what you do?
Customer Relationships: What kind of relationship do you want to have with your customers?
Revenue Streams: How will you make money from this business model? What are the different ways that revenue can come in?
Cost Structure: What are the costs associated with this business model? How will you cover those costs?
Your key partners are the people or organizations that you work with to make your business model work. These could be suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, or anyone else who plays a role in helping you to bring your product or service to market. Without these key partners, your business would not be able to function.
Your key activities are the things that you need to do in order to make your business model work. This could include everything from developing your product or service to marketing and selling it. These activities are essential to the success of your business and must be given careful consideration.
If you are already using Notion to track key projects, tasks and campaigns--you can also use this free Notion project management template and populate it with what you learn from your Business Model Canvas exercise.
Your value propositions are the reasons why customers should buy from you instead of from someone else. What needs does your product or service meet? What makes it unique and different from what else is out there?
Your customer segments are the groups of people that you have identified as most likely to purchase your product or service. These could be things like age, gender, location, or any other defining characteristic. It is important to segment your customers so that you can more effectively target them with your marketing efforts.
Your channels are the ways that you reach your target customers. This could include things like social media, advertising, public relations, or word of mouth. It is important to choose the right channels so that you can effectively reach your target market; typically, this is best done by brainstorming from the perspective of the customer--where do they spend their time? Who do they listen to and trust? Where can you meet them?
Your customer relationships are the way that you interact with your customers. How long will these relationships last? Is it a transactional relationship? A community relationship? Will you be providing guidance and advice, or will it be product-focused?
List a few key traits about your customer relationships in this section of the canvas.
Your revenue streams are the ways that you make money from your business model. This could include things like sales, subscriptions, or advertising. List all the revenue streams for your business in this section of the business model canvas.
Your cost structure is the way that you pay for the costs associated with your business model. This could include things like raw materials, labor, packaging, software subscriptions, shipping, and marketing. It is important to carefully consider your cost structure so that you can make sure that your business is profitable.
Business Model Canvas Example
By way of example, let's take a look at how a well-known company like Tesla might populate their business model canvas.
Customer Segments: Tesla targets high-end customers who are willing to pay for a premium product.
Channels: Tesla sells its cars directly to consumers through its own website and showrooms. Their CEO also happens to have the largest Twitter following; strategy or not, this is a primary channel to remind people about Tesla.
Customer Relationships: Tesla focuses on creating a personal relationship with its customers through things like test drives and customer service.
Revenue Streams: Tesla makes money primary through direct to customer sales.
Cost Structure: Tesla’s costs are mostly made up of materials, labor, and marketing.
Key Activities: Tesla’s key activities include developing and manufacturing its cars and batteries, as well as selling and servicing them.
Value Propositions: Tesla offers a premium product that is environmentally friendly and has cutting-edge technology.
Key Partners: Tesla’s key partners include suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors.
How can I use the business model canvas in my business?
The canvas serves as an excellent base layer tool to help summarize any business model. Whether that's your own business, your client's business model, or that of a competitor, you can use the business model canvas template to list the most important traits in one place.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Use it as a brainstorming tool: The business model canvas can be a great way to generate new ideas for your business. Brainstorm different ways that you could change or improve each component of your business model. Could you reach new customer segments? Could you offer new value propositions? Could you create new revenue streams?
Use it as a planning tool: Once you have some ideas of how you want to change or improve your business model, you can start using the canvas as a planning tool. Create a roadmap for how you will implement each change, and then use the canvas to track your progress.
Use it as a communication tool: The business model canvas can also be a helpful way to communicate your business model to others. Whether you're pitching your business to investors or presenting your ideas to your team, the visual nature of the canvas can make complex concepts easier to understand.
The business model canvas is a great tool for startups and businesses of all sizes to use when planning their business strategy. It can help you to think about all aspects of your business and make sure that you have a solid plan in place.
You can use the editable Notion business model canvas template linked above to get started; or if you're looking for something more comprehensive to plan your business in Notion, feel free to check out our Notion OS business models.