How to Use the Lean Canvas to Create Your Business Strategy

Are you familiar with the Lean Canvas? AKA The One Page Business Plan?

If not, read on, it’s pretty cool..

The Lean Canvas is a quick and easy way to create your business plan by putting it all down on one page. It’s a tool I use regularly to better understand, build and grow my business. Sometimes I use it to better understand a client’s business. I also like to kick off the New Year by creating a Lean Canvas, because this is when I reflect on lessons learned from the previous year, set goals for the upcoming year, and generally have a lot of ideas about what’s next next for me. The Lean Canvas really helps me to conceptualize these ideas, helps me focus, and becomes a guide for talking about and promoting my business.

Recently I did a presentation on the Lean Canvas at a WordPress Freelancers Meetup, which I will recap here. The slideshow is at the end.

This is what the Lean Canvas (or Business Model Canvas) looks like:

Click on the image to download a PDF of the Lean Canvas

What is the Lean Canvas?

Simply put, it’s a one page business plan, or business model. It’s a tool to help you create a strategy for your business, project, or idea. It’s meant to be simple, quick, and to the point.

To put it in “Lean” terms

The Lean Canvas helps you deconstruct your idea into its key assumptions. Because, until you start, your idea is simply an assumption that needs to be proven. And to prove your assumption, you need evidence. And if you can’t prove your assumption, you need to shift your strategy in order to achieve your vision.

If you really want to geek out on Lean, I suggest reading about Lean Thinking on Wikipedia, or read the book The Lean Startup, which I got from the library.

Who is the Lean Canvas for?


If you are a freelancer, entrepreneur, established business owner, or someone with a cool idea, special project, or a vision for the future, the Lean Canvas will help you get your ideas out of your head and onto a piece of paper. That is the first step for achieving your vision.

Or not. Because maybe when you see it on paper it just doesn’t make sense.

Why should you use it?

Because you need a strategy. Your product or service is the end result of your strategy.

Because its important to keep it simple. Simplifying your concept will help you focus on what’s important and help you communicate it to others.

Because traditional business plans are too time consuming (your time is too valuable), require way too much detail, and no matter how carefully you’ve thought through your plan, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. They often go awry.

Because while your vision doesn’t change, your strategy will change, especially over time, as you try things out, as you get to know your customers better, as you put some metrics in place, and as your business grows and evolves.

Because if you fit your business plan onto the easy-to-digest one-page format you can easily share it and get feedback.

How do you use it?

First, don’t spend too much time on it. (20 minutes is recommended.) Consider it a brainstorming exercise. Just relax your mind and do a brain dump onto the paper.

Follow the numbers: 1 -Start with describing your customers, 2 – Identify their problems, 3 – Define your unique value proposition, etc. Click through the slideshow below to get details and suggestions for filling out each section.


Your Lean Canvas is filled in, now what?

When it’s all done and you’re happy with it, now you can use it for:

  • Developing your business name and tagline.
  • Coming up with your one-minute commercial (or “elevator speech”) about your business.
  • Brainstorming keywords for an SEO strategy.
  • Deciding on where to spend your marketing dollars.
  • Designing the home page of your website.
  • Developing a social media strategy.
  • Setting up your SMART Goals.
  • And so much more!
And if you’re not happy with it, throw it in the garbage and start over!

Book a call and let’s chat about your unique project.

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