Lean Canvas

The Lean Canvas is an adaptation of Business Model Canvas and it is especially designed for entrepreneurs. The canvas focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages.


“My main objective with Lean Canvas was making it
as actionable as possible while staying entrepreneur-focused”
– Ash Maurya
When the Business Model Canvas was introduced, all examples shown were business models from existing and mature businesses. Therefore Ash Maurya redesigned it and created the Lean Canvas that is more actionable and entrepreneur-focused.

The Lean Canvas includes aspects for startups to deal with uncertainty and risk. He added the elements Problem and Solution as well as Key Metrics and Unfair advantage. The Lean Canvas also reflects the principles of the ”Lean Startup” approach build-measure-learn.

Read more about Ash Maurya’s reasons to adapt the Business Model Canvas in >> here


  • Focus on the problem-solution fit
  • Includes measuring the success
  • Reflects lean startup mindset: Build-measure-learn
  • Unfair advantage helps to differentiate in the market
  • Easy to understand the elements and the structure


  • Partners and value exchange between different actors is not visible
  • Defining the unfair advantage can set barriers in a to early stage of the development of the idea
  • No team or cultural aspects (only within resources)
  • Missing building blocks for special usage, such as sustainable business models


How to use it
Either print out the template or use one of the digital tools to fill in the Lean canvas ( Read our blog post where we are presenting and assessing different solutions )
The idea behind the Lean Canvas is to quickly sketch the business idea instead of using several weeks to develop a business plan. The Lean Canvas is divided into 9 components.
Define your user
Before you get started the main question is: Do you have a problem worth solving? If so the first step is to brainstorm who could be your customer or user: define 2-3 specific and small customer groups. Customers are those who pay for your products. In comparison to the business model canvas, the Lean Canvas is designed to focus on one customer group. Therefor create a separate Lean Canvas for every customer group.
Create Solutions
Based on the identified problems, ideate and define a solution to every problem: list the three most important features for a solution.
Define your Unique Value Proposition
The Unique Value Proposition is a clear message that describes the advantages of your offer, what makes you different and distinguishes you from the competition.
Think about the Channels
What are the channels you want to use to reach your customer? Define inbound channelsthat lead customers to your offer like SEO, white papers, blogs, social media – and outbound channels like ads, calls, fairs and conventions. BE CREATIVE!

Define the revenue streams and the prices for your offer. The pricing is part of your offer and needs to be designed and tested. Use different business model patterns as a source for inspiration.

Key Metrics
To understand if your idea and your business work well define key metrics as indicators to measure your success. For the beginning, key metrics are the activities of a user that help the business grow (e.g. number of registrations, number of prospects, etc.)
List the most important costs for your offer. This might influence the pricing.
Unfair Advantage
As a last step, define your Unfair Advantage: what makes you unique that is not easily copied? E.g. reputation, unique brand experience, unique partnerships that lead to an offer that cannot be copied.

View on Responsibility

Problem-Solution fit and Value proposition
Focusing on solving a real problem helps to create sustainable businesses and an empathy-driven value proposition.
Economic sustainability
Revenue streams and costs need to be defined. This is a crucial factor in order to create a financially sustainable business model.
The question about the unfair advantage helps to create a business that can survive in a competitive environment. Nevertheless, this should be thoughtfully designed and not exclude cooperation, co-creation and open business models.


More inspirations