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Lean Canvas

Lean Canvas Notion Template: One-Page Agile Business Plan

Ninety-page business plans, formatted in Word, printed on A4 sheets and handed across desks in neatly stapled stacks to business executives, investors and managers... these days are well behind us. Instead, agile frameworks like the Lean Canvas Model template are helping businesses and decision makers get to the heart of things, rapidly, and iteratively.

In this post, I'll walk through our Lean Canvas Notion Template, where it originates from, how you can use it in your own business and project management efforts, and how it differs from Osterwald's classic Business Canvas Model.

Let's get into it, starting with some background.

What is (the) Lean Canvas?

A lean canvas is a 1-page tool used to formulate and validate business ideas. Created by Ash Maurya as a spinoff of Alexander Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas (BMC), it was designed to help entrepreneurs quickly assess whether their business idea has potential or not, and identify key areas of focus and improvement.

The lean canvas was also popularized in startup land, among accelerators and incubators as a way to screen and assess new business ideas (or so I've heard...).

What are the key sections of the Lean Canvas?

The lean canvas is made up of nine key sections:

1. Problem: What problem are you solving?

2. Customer Segments: Who are your potential customers?

3. Unique Value Proposition: What makes your solution unique and worth paying for?

4. Solutions: How do you propose to solve the problem?

5. Channels: How will you reach your target market?

6. Revenue Streams: How will you generate revenue from your solution?

7. Cost Structure: What are the costs associated with your business model?

8. Key Metrics: What key metrics and milestones will you track to gauge progress and success?

9. Unfair Advantage: What advantages do you have (which others do not) that will help you succeed?

How to use the Lean Canvas Notion Template

You can use the lean canvas at various scales of business planning, from developing a new product or service, to expanding into a new market, to launching an entirely new business venture.

To get started with our Notion template, hit 'Duplicate' in the top right corner of your member template. (Note: If you're not logged in/haven't created a free Landmark account, you can do so with the 'Unlock this template' button on this page).  

As you fill in the template, keep the above questions in mind for each section.

Once filled out, you'll want to start validation by talking to potential customers, family, friends and colleagues to challenge any assumptions you've made in the canvas. This will help you fine-tune your business idea and ensure that you're solving a real problem that people care about.

How is Lean Canvas different from Business Model Canvas?

The lean canvas is similar to Osterwald's original Business Model Canvas in that it's a tool used to formulate and provide a decent overview of complete business ideas. However, there are a few key differences between the two frameworks.

  • First, the lean canvas is designed specifically for startups, in accordance with Lean Startup Methodology and agile thinking, whereas the business model canvas can be used by businesses of all sizes;
  • Second, the lean canvas has a greater focus on validation and experimentation. This is reflected in its emphasis on identifying the primary problem your customers are facing, setting a hypothesis for your proposed solution, and setting clear metrics to validate (or invalidate) your hypothesis;
  • And finally, the lean canvas is meant to be a living document that you can constantly update (or refresh from scratch) as you learn more about your customers and your business model.

Lean canvas example: Uber

Let's take a famous example to see how the Lean Canvas might be applied to a well-known startup idea.

Uber, as we all know, is a popular ride-sharing app that allows users to request and pay for rides from drivers in their area.

1. Problem: What problem are you solving?

Here, we might say the problem that Uber is solving is twofold. First, they're providing an alternative to traditional taxi services, which can be expensive and inconvenient. Second, they're making it easier for people to get around in cities, where public transportation can be unreliable.

2. Customer Segments: Who are your potential customers?

Uber's potential customers are people who feel those problems most acutely; namely, people living in urban areas and are willing to pay for a ride-sharing service.

3. Unique Value Proposition: What makes your solution unique and worth paying for?

Uber's unique value proposition is that they're a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional taxi services; on-demand. They're technology advantage makes for a truly unique experience and therefore value proposition.  

4. Solutions: How do you propose to solve the problem?

Uber's solution is to connect riders with drivers in their area who can give them a ride.

5. Channels: How will you reach your target market?

Uber's primary channels are online and mobile, where they reach potential riders through advertising and word-of-mouth.

6. Revenue Streams: How will you generate revenue from your solution?

Uber generates revenue by charging riders a per-trip fee.

7. Cost Structure: What are the costs associated with your business model?

Uber's main costs are driver commissions, marketing, and technology development.

8. Key Metrics: What key metrics and milestones will you track to gauge progress and success?

Some of the key metrics that Uber might track would include number of rides, rider satisfaction, and driver satisfaction.

9. Unfair Advantage: What advantages do you have that will help you succeed?

Uber's unfair advantage might come down to their proprietary technology, first-mover advantage and scale. They're the largest ride-sharing platform in the world, which gives them a significant advantage over potential competitors.

Generating Multiple Copies Of The Lean Canvas Notion Template

So, hopefully that summary gives you what you need to get started (or at least to refresh your mind on the main Lean Canvas sections).

In the template linked, I've also included a '+ Lean Canvas' Notion template button. This allows you to rapidly generate and spawn fresh Lean Canvases in literally a couple of seconds--no need to worry about copy-pasting spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations or Google docs.

And if you're interested to learn how the Lean Canvas compares with the Business Model Canvas, you can read our article (and copy the template) covering the BMC, here.

Happy planning.

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