Lean Canvas Model vs. Traditional Business Plan- Which should I use?


As an entrepreneur, one of the most frustrating parts of starting a business is transitioning from the “idea” phase to the “business” phase. Attempting to paint a picture of your idea in a way that others can truly understand your intentions for your business is hard- every part of your business is important to you, but you know you only have a limited amount of time to convey the most important aspects. How do you choose the most relevant information to share?

For business purposes, there are two frequently used ways to go about painting a clearer picture of your business: composing a traditional Business Plan, an often-exhaustive written description of every aspect of your business; or developing a Lean Canvas, a summary of the key components of your business created to aid concise explanation and agile business development.



The Lean Canvas is a one-page document broken into several segments that focus on the core components of your business: What is the problem or market opportunity you are addressing? What makes your product or service unique? How do you plan on reaching your potential customers? These questions are simple by design- to keep you focused on the important factors you must consider and investigate when starting a new business. The Lean Canvas is one tool used in the bigger process called the Lean Startup Approach. Here are three benefits of using a Lean Canvas model compared to a traditional Business Plan model:


Saves Time- Now more than ever, time is a precious commodity. You can document, test, and implement initial assumptions about your business, all before you invest a significant amount of time, money, or other resources. That additional time can be better spent by you working on your business, instead of developing assumptions that are untested, and will likely change many times throughout your business concept.

Less is More- Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” Learning to present your ideas in a shorter amount of time increases the chances of keeping that investor’s attention until the end of your pitch. Think concise and clear over detailed and long.

Gets to the Point- The “KISS” Principle, or “Keep It Simple, Stupid” is a reminder to not get weighed down by every detail, but to focus on the easiest way to get your message across. In most circumstances, you’ll only have a very short amount of time to convince someone to invest in your product- a Lean Canvas forces you to get right to the point, and focus on the most simple and concise way to share your business strategy.

With today’s entrepreneurs being more fast-paced than ever before, it’s important to remember that the world is becoming more fast-paced, as well. The more time you can save someone from slowing down and reading, the more time you’ll have to be present, and truly communicate your ideas. A Lean Canvas is the perfect tool for the entrepreneur on the go! You can learn more about the Lean Startup Approach and how to implement it in your business strategy in Eric Ries’ book, The Lean Startup.


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