Whats the Difference Between a Lean Canvas and a Business Model Canvas


Overview of Lean Canvas

The Lean Canvas is a tool that can be used to quickly and accurately map out the key elements of a startup business model. It is an adaptation of the Business Model Canvas originally developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

The Lean Canvas focuses on the 9 key building blocks of a business model:

  • Product/Market Fit
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Unfair Advantage
  • Channels
  • Customer Segments
  • Cost Structure
  • Revenue Streams
  • Key Metrics

The Lean Canvas also allows for greater flexibility to adjust and evolve as the business model changes.

Definition of Lean Canvas

Lean canvas is an adaptation of the business model canvas created by Ash Maurya. It is used for quickly determining if a business or product idea has potential. It focuses on quickly defining key assumptions as well as measuring progress and pivoting if needed. This simple yet powerful tool is designed to make you think deeply about your product, customers, channels, partners, cost structures, and revenue streams.

Unlike the business model canvas which outlines logic around how you will create value in the market, the Lean Canvas focuses more on how your product idea meets user need and how you’ll develop a sustainable business around it. The goal of using the Lean Canvas is to reduce wasted time and money by testing assumptions with data-driven decisions instead of guesswork.

At its core, Lean Canvas consists of nine building blocks that help entrepreneurs to evaluate riskiest areas related with their product concept:

  • Problem & Solution (a brief description of users’ problem and proposed solution);
  • Unique Value Proposition (what makes your solution better than others);
  • Unfair Advantage (something which can’t be copied or bought);
  • Key Metrics (key numbers you should focus on);
  • Channels (where will customers learn about your product);
  • Customer Segments (who are these people);
  • Cost Structure (costs related with creating/operating a product/business);
  • Revenue Streams (how to monetize a customer) and finally
  • Team & Progress section which describes who owns key parts of the project plus indicate exact stage in terms of development and adoption.

Benefits of using a Lean Canvas

A Lean Canvas is a strategic planning tool that provides entrepreneurs with a quick way to develop and evaluate the potential success of their new business ideas. It is very similar to a Business Model Canvas, but provides an agile model for those who may be in a more uncertain setting and has fewer elements for entrepreneurs to consider.

Using a Lean Canvas can provide several key benefits. First, it enables entrepreneurs to quickly identify the issues which have the most potential return on investment. This helps prevent an entrepreneur from becoming overly committed to any particular element or blocker that could create costly delays later on. Additionally, the Lean Canvas allows entrepreneurs to prioritize problems quickly and iterate their solutions faster by focusing on their key value proposition, customer segment(s), channels and other business assumptions.

By helping entrepreneurs effectively navigate uncertainty, it allows them enough flexibility yet structure as they attempt to refine their business model without getting caught up in either analysis paralysis or unnecessary costs upfront. It also helps them address the key components of starting a business such as:

  • Customer segmentation
  • Competitive landscape
  • Differentiated product offering(s)

In summary, using a Lean Canvas can help entrepreneurs focus their efforts towards the solutions which offer the greatest return on investment while still providing enough structure for those founders who prefer organization over chaos.

Overview of Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a planning tool that allows you to visualize your business model in one central place. It is a visual chart with elements describing a firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. The Business Model Canvas is a simple way to align the major components of your business and focus on their interdependencies. It’s a great way to brainstorm, plan, and document your business model.

Let’s take a closer look at the Business Model Canvas:

Definition of Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic tool used to help entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes map out, plan and test their business models. The 9-block tool allows users to clearly visualize the main components of their business model. Users can come up with creative solutions, acquire an understanding of the different elements of their business model and develop strategies accordingly.

The core blocks in the canvas are comprised of key activities, customer segments, value propositions, customer relations, channels, key resources and cost structures.

The concept was developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur and introduced in their book “Business Model Generation” which was published in 2010. By breaking down the traditional business plans into specific components focusing on each sector’s differences within a company’s operations, users can brainstorm ideas for new products or services for short-term growth or long-term development. It has since become one of most commonly used tools in the world for strategic management.

Benefits of using a Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas, created by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, is a strategic management tool used by entrepreneurs and startups to develop and test their business models. The simple framework is broken down into nine building blocks that easily illustrate the elements of a business model.

The benefits of using the Business Model Canvas include:

  • Systematically organizes an existing business model or plan.
  • Focuses on end customer value, which can be helpful for developing customer-centric solutions.
  • Provides clarity about the pricing strategy for your products or services.
  • Encourages collaborative sessions with stakeholders.
  • Facilitates easy evaluation of alternative strategies.
  • Increases agility and adaptability to changing market conditions within an organization.
  • Increases visibility & reduces documentation needs for various departments within an organization.
  • Creates a sense of continuity & coherence between departments within an organization & outside stakeholders.

Comparison of Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas

The Lean Canvas and the Business Model Canvas are two useful tools that can help you better understand and iterate your business model. While both of these tools can help you map out your business model, they use slightly different approaches and have distinct levels of detail.

Let’s look at the differences between the Lean Canvas and the Business Model Canvas:

Similarities between Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas

Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas (BMC) are two popular frameworks widely used for business planning, mapping and deploying new business ideas. Both Lean Canvas and BMC are generally seen as complementary tools, but there are key differences between them that can make one or the other more effective than the other depending on the purpose of use.

Despite the differences, Lean Canvas and BMC also have a significant amount of overlap when it comes to their functionality. The both help identify customer needs, define user segments, uncover costs, think through pricing models, find ways to acquire customers, understand usage scenarios etc. In fact both tools can help entrepreneurs come up with ways to validate their business ideas and increase efficacy while reducing risks.

At a high level there are four key similarities between the two tools:

  1. Both maps include nine blocks that capture key components of building a successful venture—Customer Segments/Who are your customers;Problem/What problem do you solve;Solution/How do you solve this problem;Key Metrics/What measures success;Unique Value Proposition/What makes you unique;Unfair Advantage/ What will protect your business against competition;Channels Who decides what comes in and out of users life;Cost Structure & Revenue Streams / How do you get money from users.
  2. They both emphasize simplicity by focusing on core components that define success for any venture rather than hundreds of other small unsubstantial items associated with some traditional planning methods.
  3. Both provide an efficient way to plan quickly. As long as all important elements have been sufficiently represented in these diagrams they can replace time-consuming plans that take weeks or even months to complete such as SWOT analyses or Gantt charts. This is especially important in fast-paced environments where making decisions quickly is often vital for success while not compromising quality at the same time.
  4. They can be equally beneficial for any type of organization – startups or larger established enterprises alike looking to bring innovative solutions into existing markets or undermine existing players by creating entirely new ones.

Differences between Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas

The Lean Canvas and the Business Model Canvas are graphical models often used to help business owners create and develop successful products, services or startups. While both tools provide a high-level overview of a business venture, there are distinct differences between the two.

The Lean Canvas was designed by Ash Maurya as an adaptation of the Business Model Canvas developed by Alex Osterwalder. The main difference between these two canvases lies in the purpose for which it was designed and how detailed each canvas is. The Lean Canvas is ideal for entrepreneurs who are trying to develop a set of experiments quickly in order to identify where their best opportunities lie. With only nine essential components (customer problems, customer segmentation, value proposition, channels, revenue streams, cost structure, key activities, key resources and unfair advantages), it’s easy to narrow down a list of experiments that need testing right away so that paths can be quickly explored and validated or invalidated with customers.

Meanwhile, the Business Model Canvas is much more comprehensive as it considers various sources of revenue streams such as customers over time (which isn’t possible to map out on a Lean Canvas). Additionally, its structure utilizes 22 sections instead of nine components found on the Lean Canvas which includes long-term customer relationships sections such as customer loyalty programs and repeat customer segments. The Business Model Canvas also accounts for multiple customer layers (such as pre-sale processes) that can track sales patterns better than what is feasible with the Lean canvas tool. Finally, because it is more comprehensive than its counterpart – businesses using this tool must create multiple test scenarios across each box on the canvas in order to best understand what particular changes drive variations in performance from one step in their business model process over another.


In conclusion, it is important to understand the difference between a Lean Canvas and a Business Model Canvas. While the Lean Canvas helps entrepreneurs quickly apply the Lean Startup approach and validate their business ideas, the Business Model Canvas provides a comprehensive overview of the business and how it fits into the market.

Depending on the stage of your business and the type of analysis that needs to be done, one canvas may be more beneficial than the other.

Summary of the differences between Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas

Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas (BMC) offer two distinct approaches for helping entrepreneurs map out their business ideas.

The Lean Canvas approach focuses on helping you quickly identify the assumptions about your venture that need to be validated. It is a one-page document that outlines key elements like problem, solution, unique value proposition, target market, and channels.

The Business Model Canvas approach is more comprehensive and includes detailed information about revenues and costs. It helps entrepreneurs clearly define their customer segments, define their pricing model, gain insight into competitive dynamics, determine distribution channels and understand customer retention strategies. It is a visual representation of a business model that can be written on a single page so that it’s easier to communicate the idea to potential funders or advisors.

Overall, Lean Canvas offers a more agile approach compared to BMC due its highly actionable nature while BMC provides a deeper analysis of cost structures making it appealing in industries where cost structures are intricate. Both approaches try to help bring clarity to how business ideas work in practice by facilitating discussions around customer needs, pricing models, revenues/costs and go-to-market approaches.

Recommendation on which canvas to use

When trying to decide on which canvas will work best for your business, consider your goals, timeline and budget. If you’re starting a business or launching a product and you want to explore the core elements of a business model quickly and cheaply – the Lean Canvas is likely the better choice. The Lean Canvas requires much less time investment, with fewer details that need to be fleshed out. It won’t take weeks or months of revisions and iterations; you can get it done in a day if necessary.

On the other hand, if truly thorough market research is required or planning time spans over many months, the Business Model Canvas may be more appropriate for an in-depth look at all aspects of your business. This will usually require more resources as well, including people who are well-versed in strategy formulation and market analysis – but if it’s in order to properly evaluate all aspects of your company’s business model then this could be worth it in the long run.

Finally, both canvases can be used together depending on how much detail is wanted at certain points during the process – there really is no right answer as to which one should be applied; only personal preference based on unique business contexts. Regardless of which canvas you choose to use, they both provide an excellent way to map out your plan of action before taking off into uncharted waters!