The Lean Canvas is a rapid idea capture tool that can be used to deconstruct an idea into a set of key assumptions and describe the three key activities of a business model, a product release, or even a single feature:
Customer Value Creation
You create value for your customers by helping them achieve a desired outcome like landing their dream job. You describe these desired outcomes in the Unique Value Proposition box of the Lean Canvas.
In order to craft a compelling unique value proposition, you need to understand customers and their problems.
Customer Value Delivery
You deliver value to your customers through your solution -- which customers find through your channels. The cost of value delivery is captured on your cost structure box.
Customer Value Capture
You capture value back from your customers through your revenue streams. For business modeling purposes, it is important to list both your sources of revenue and specific pricing. If you aren't sure about specific pricing yet, ballparks are okay.
A Lean Canvas can be used to describe:
Avoid group think. Instead, have each team member create their own snapshots of your idea as they see it. Then get together as a group and reconcile your assumptions into a single Lean Canvas.
Start filling the Canvas with the order that comes naturally to you, and build out the rest from there. If you can’t decide, use this order to get going:
It's okay to leave boxes blank.
Explore variants. Most entrepreneurs either go too broad or too narrow with their first canvases.
You need a strategy that allows you to simultaneously go broad and narrow at the same time.
The way you do this is with multiple canvases.
Each of your canvases needs to be narrow and specific but you can and should go broad across these canvases by sketching out multiple possible variants of the same idea.
Share it with fellow team members, peer entrepreneurs, friendly domain experts, investors, and coaches. Not customers. They don't care about your business model. They only care about a subset that pertains to them.
Your goal right now shouldn't be trying to sell the other person on your idea but rather making a case for your idea and getting their initial reaction.
Keep it simple. All you need is a Lean Canvas that fits on a page and about 30 minutes.
Spend 20% of the time (about 5 minutes) setting the context for your idea. And the remaining time soliciting feedback.
Focus on highlighting things not on your Lean Canvas by going deeper in each section.
Share how you got the idea and then segue into your Customer → Problem → Solution boxes. From there walk the rest of the canvas highlighting key takeaways.
Share any customer validation / conversations you've already had. If you've already built something, or launched something, or have paying customers, mention them.
After your 5-minute overview is done, ask for their feedback and listen. See if they were able to understand your idea. If they got confused and ask for clarification, make notes of where.
Ask them what they think about your validation plan and your assessment of riskiest assumptions. Do they have an alternate validation strategy in mind?
Ask 10 people for advice, and you could get 10 very different prescriptions that are in conflict with each other. Your job isn't to follow all the advice you're given, but rather internalize them, and apply them.
If you do find someone giving your overly prescriptive solutions, try to get to their underlying chain of beliefs for suggesting so... Is it based on a leap of faith, anecdotal evidence, or deep learning?
A good coach/mentor should be focused on asking the right questions versus trying to give you the right solutions.