Business Case

The Lean Canvas is a useful tool for rapid development and refinement of systems, initiatives, and products in order to make the most impact and generate the most revenue. The Lean Canvas is designed to be flexible and testable, which will assist you in using your most precious resource (time) wisely, unlike moving forward on a static business plan which can result in taking unnecessary risks since the plan is based on untested assumptions.

The Canvas helps you to avoid bias by leading you through a quick process of documenting your ideas and then testing them on a small scale instead wasting time and money pursuing fruitless ideas. With the Canvas,  you can learn quickly which problems are most critically in need of solving, to whom those solutions matter most, and which solutions can make the biggest impact with the least investment of your resources.

Once you have your initial roadmap, the first version of your Lean Canvas, you can then work through a process of identifying the most risky aspects of your plan, and whether or not you have correctly identified the solution that brings the largest return for the opportunity cost of bringing it forth.

In order to do this, the Lean Canvas requires you to keep in constant contact with your customers throughout the development process. Although this may seem like an extraordinary outlay of time and effort, you actually only need to make meaningful contact five or so customers to make a difference (although you will also ask them for referrals of other people to talk to). These customers will help you through several stages of testing your assumptions and learning about your customer's goals and the challenges to achieving those goals, and you avoid wasting more resources by pursuing what you think people want instead of what they actually want.

Fill in your canvas quickly; don't spend an endless amount of time but rather record your ideas as they exist so that they can be formally tested and proven or disproven by people other than yourself. Spend no more than 15 minutes or so per canvas, and be concise.  Attempt to fit your entire canvas onto one page by distilling your ideas to their essence. Sometimes business plans try to predict the future or at least account for it, but base your canvas on the current state of affairs and what you know right now. If you need to leave a section blank, it's OK; in fact, that blank section can help indicate what's riskiest about your idea and point you toward the hypotheses that you need to test in order to move your product forward. The section "Unfair Advantage" might take some time to figure out and that's OK. The task is to test and change your canvas over time, evolving to reflect the discoveries you have made along the way.

Empathy Map