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Lean Canvas - A Great Starting Place

Lean Canvas
Lean Canvas created by Ash Maurya. Visit https://leanstack.com/leancanvas. Lean Canvas is adapted from The Business Model Canvas (https://www.strategyzer.com) and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Un-ported License.

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In the early days when you don't even know if your solution is something that can make money or that people will pay for it does not make sense to spend months writing a business plan. However, you need to get your initial thoughts out of your mind. This tool is perfect for that. It gives a great overview of where you stand, where you gaps in knowledge or understanding are and reveals some paths forward. This is a staple, go to, tool for any entrepreneur.

What is Lean Canvas?

Consider lean canvas to be a business plan lite that helps you get started in deconstructing your idea. Many times you start with an idea and this canvas helps you look at it from different perspectives. The goal is to make sure that you are solving a problem that is worth solving for your customer

Learn Canvas focuses your attention on serving your customer and their needs and pain points. It helps you avoid a common mistake for startups, starting with the solution and then trying to sell it. Most businesses fail from lack of market fit. Meaning they fail to validate with a potential customer before they build a product. Lean canvas helps you start with a customer and trying to solve their most pressing problem and biggest pain point.

The idea is to break down your business model into actionable pieces in a short amount of time so that in an afternoon you can outline your business and create a game plan. Because everything is on one page you can use post-it notes or even put it on a white board, you can also share the basics of your idea more easily and update it as you learn more. If you want to go digital you can combine the power of this tool with Trello.

How to start working with Lean Canvas?

  1. Work through the canvas in one sitting. 
  2. Leave sections blank, make a note to do some research on those areas
  3. Think in actionable terms, if you do know something, where can you go learn about it. How can you test the basic assumptions of your idea with minimal effort?
  4. Revisit the canvas, be patient with yourself. It may go through several iterations. Every product and every company goes through many iterations and trial and error phases.  The key is to not give up. You don't have to know everything. Start with what you know and ask for help.
PRO-TIP: Ditch the technology for your first or second round of filling in your ideas. Start with a blank wall or whiteboard and use post-it notes. It helps you take a deeper dive and become more creative by removing the constraints of formatting.


At its core, the lean startup focuses on data-driven results.

To some extent, the lean startup follows the “fail fast” method.

The lean startup proposes an iterative process.


By relying on a customer feedback cycle, more long-term ideas may be missed.

The lean model seems to apply best to products or services where a market already exists, rather than for revolutionary new ideas. (More on Pros & Cons)


Field guide by LeanStack.com on implementing Lean Canvas.