Why Use Lean vs Business Model Canvas?

The Lean Canvas was designed for startups and has components specifically targeted to support the lean startup process. Lean Canvas is utilized to validate your ideas and concept. Companies often move to business model canvas when they have validated the business or are already a traditional business.

"The Business Model Canvas was proposed by Alexander Osterwalder based on his earlier book: Business Model Ontology. It outlines several prescriptions which form the building blocks for the activities. It enables both new and existing businesses to focus on operational as well as strategic management and marketing plans. The Lean Canvas, on the other hand, has been proposed by Ash Maurya as a development of the Business Model Generation. It outlines a more problem focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses." (Canvanizer)

The Lean Canvas is simpler and less complete than the Business Model Canvas. Whereas the Business Model Canvas tries for provide a complete model of a business, which can be used for testing and search in lean startups, the Lean Canvas is more focused on being a one page summary with "simple" business models. 

There is a third canvas called the Value Proposition Canvas which helps entrepreneurs focus on "jobs to be done" and how a startups' value proposition may reduce the pains and increase the gains in getting those jobs done. Coupling the Value Proposition with the Business Model Canvas has been touted by some as a more complete approach for startups.

Basic Definitions

  • The Lean Canvas promises an actionable and entrepreneur-focused business plan. It focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics and competitive advantages. (Canvanizer)
  • The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. (Strategyzer)
  • The Value Proposition Canvas makes explicit how you are creating value for your customers. It helps you tackle a core challenge of every business — designing and creating compelling products and services customers want to buy. (Strategyzer)


  1. Improve likelihood of success and reduce risk by utilizing one or more of the canvas tools at the right time in your company's maturity/growth.
  2. Ensure your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) - the translation of product or service features into customer benefits - is clear and concise.
  3. Spend needed cycles to ensure your UVP is a differentiator - one that endures beyond the first time use of your product or service.
Mark Hewitt