How to Fill In Lean Canvas Template – The ULTIMATE Guidelines

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Time to read:
8 min
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Your startup idea could get into Fortune 500 or out-hype Lyft. Do it right. Great ideas need to be planned out, polished, perfected. That’s what we learned (real quickly) at Fulcrum.

Raw ideas result in raw products. That’s the equation. Therefore we adopted new cool practice at Fulcrum. We send Lean Canvas online tool (or PDF) to each client to help ’em plan everything out. Use Lean Canvas template to quickly shape business ideas, plan out product launches & promo campaigns.

What is Lean Canvas?

Lean Canvas captures your business model in 1 page. It gives you the structure & wider look at your business. Lean Canvas is an adapted version of Business Canvas model by Alex Osterwalder. The basic difference — Lean Canvas is more focused on startups. It helps you turn your killer idea into life. Originally, Lean Canvas methodology (in its modern look) has been introduced in 2010 by Ash Maurya, LeanStack’s founder.

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Why Lean Canvas is Essential for Any Startup?

The huge (& most widespread) mistake for any company is creating a product that nobody needs. Lean Canvas model helps you capture everything uncertain about your idea/product. It has the structure, key points that you MUST consider when launching a product. As a result, you can create a clear roadmap for your product.

In short, here’s what you get by using Lean Canvas:

  1. structured, clear idea of where your business is at the moment

  2. understanding of how useful your product really is

  3. a deeper look into your target audience & how to reach it

Sit back & relax. Open a lean canvas online tool in another tab & fill it in while reading the instructions.

Lean Canvas Template [also available as PDF]

At Fulcrum we created a convenient & beautiful Lean Canvas template. It’s completely free to use. It’s an online tool, where you can collaborate with your co-workers by simply sharing a link. You can also export your Lean Canvas Business Model in PDF & it will be sent directly to your inbox. Use it, print it. If there any questions regarding how to use Lean Canvas and its fill order, you can consult our business manager (it’s also free).

How to Fill in Lean Canvas Template in Under 20 Mins

1. Start with ‘Customer Segments’.

Lean Canvas fill order is simple. Your target audience pre-defines your business model. Therefore, it makes sense to start your Lean Canvas model with your customer segments. Keep in mind, there’s a common stumbling block — people tend to define their audience too broadly. The golden rule goes:

When you are trying to build the product for everyone — you end up creating a product for nobody.

If you have many different audience segments, just create lean canvas online for each one of them separately.

For instance, if we are talking about Uber, who is the target audience?

  1. Taxi drivers (as potential partners)

  2. City dwellers without a car

  3. Tourists

But try to narrow it down even more and identify your early adopters below. Who is most likely to start using your app? These people have ‘above average’ need for your product. If we talk about Uber, we can add geography factor here. Early adopters might be the San Francisco IT folk (San Francisco is where Uber started out). Their phone is their life. They never have cash, and use credit cards, typically. They could be the most interested in ordering a taxi through the app and pay by card instead of cash.

2. State the problem your product solves

If there’s no problem — there’s no product, simple as that. Each customer segment has its distinctive problem. Enumerate 1–3 pain points for each segment. Obviously, be as specific as possible. LeanStack recommends using ‘5 -Whys technique’ invented in Toyota, which helps you get to the root of the problem. Start with a general pain point and then continue asking ‘why’? 5 times in a row. For instance, let’s take our client Scoob-e, e-bike renting app in Vienna. We might start with something general like this: It’s hard to move around in Vienna. But if we continue using ‘Why?’ technique we might get to the following problems:

  1. There are traffic jams if you use a car. People don’t want to stay in the traffic jams.

  2. It’s not easy to park your car in the city center. Finding a parking spot is a nuisance.

  3. Public transport picks you up at certain spots, at certain time. Who wants to wait?

  4. Most cars aren’t eco-friendly.

At the end you will get as narrow as possible for outlining specific problems that your prospects face. In the same section you will see ‘Existing Alternatives’ subcategory. Try to describe how your target audience is solving these problems at the moment. What are the alternative solutions? Mind you don’t describe your competitors here. This box needs to list alternative ways to solve the problem. For instance, instead of using cars, people in Vienna can walk by foot or use a simple bicycle.

3. Revenue Streams

Next thing on the list is to fill in your revenue streams in Lean Canvas. Why is this important? Because if you don’t see how you can monetize your solution — then it’s not a viable business idea. Revenue is ‘the air’ for your business. You need to think it through before you jump into creating your MVP. If it’s hard to determine your business model at first, start with defining the customer in your business model. Customers and target audience aren’t always the same. For instance, in Uber business model, taxi drivers are not the customers, yet they are also a target audience. Next step — think through your pricing model. Pricing model is a very complicated topic itself. Do you plan on using a monthly subscription, one-time fee or else? Definitely document this in your Lean Canvas model.

4. Solution

Take a close look at your ‘Problems’ column on the left. What is the most obvious, first-comes-to-your-head solution to the problem outlined? If you’re having doubts, share your Lean Canvas template with colleagues (it’s possible with Fulcrum Lean Canvas using a PDF or a link). What’s more, you can do a double duty & interview your target audience and find out their take.

5. Unique Value Proposition

Unique Value proposition (also known as Unique Selling Proposition) answers exactly who your product is for and why users should choose your company instead of competitors. The word ‘unique’ is here for a reason. Your value proposition needs to stand out. There are so many companies on the market, you either get noticed or go home. There are three components to your UVP:

  1. Who is this product for?

  2. What is the clear benefit?

  3. Why they should choose you instead of the others?

  4. Uber’s value proposition is looking great. Check it out below.

You can also use something called Instant Clarity Headline. It includes the end result that your customer wants, certain time period and it addresses the objections customers have.

In the same field, you can add ‘high-level concept’. It’s a quick catchphrase, that best describes your business. It’s perfect to get idea across & make sure potential investors understand your startup idea. For example, when YouTube just started out, it’s high-level concept was ‘Flickr for videos’.

6. Channels

In our Internet word, there are even more channels available each day & the new ones appear all the time. Think about your perfect customer persona. Where does he/she consume content? While filling in your Lean Canvas, consider all offline & online channels to reach your audience: word of mouth, offline educational events, Facebook & Google ads, PR. You can divide your channels into ‘Before purchase’, ‘During Purchase’ and ‘After Purchase’

• Before Purchase:

Word of mouth, Social media, CPC, PR articles, promo emails, etc;

• During Purchase:

your website, catalogs, chatting with sales managers, etc;

• After Purchase:

email updates, customer feedback survey, social media, etc;

7. Key Metrics

Key metrics in Lean Canvas are the essential numbers for your business. These are downloads, MQLs, SQLs, sales, — all the metrics required for your business to flourish. They should be tracked on a regular basis. You can go an extra mile and think through your Minimum Success Criteria. It’s a breakpoint, the needed result for your company to become successful. It might be easier to think in terms of revenue. What revenue should your company have to be considered successful?

8. Cost Structure

What does it take to create your perfect product? How many resources needed before it’s live and kicking? First thing first, there are fixed & variable costs. Make sure to outline both in your Lean Canvas. The name says it all. Fixed costs are the rent, taxes, interest expenses. They are less likely to fluctuate over time in comparison to variable costs. Variable costs are direct material costs, labour costs, Marketing expenses. Most likely, your cost structure will change over time. The good thing is — you can always come back to your lean canvas & update it.

9. Unfair Advantage

As J.Cohen put it, a real unfair advantage is something that can’t be easily copied by your competitors.

Your unfair advantage could be something like fantastic experts on your team (which is not always the case for many companies) or cutting-edge technologies that you have. Lean Canvas creator Ash Maurya warns not to list ‘first to the market’ as your advantage. Most profitable companies nowadays weren’t the first to the market. They were second, third or tenth. Think Apple or Facebook. They polished technologies that were already present.

In the end, what’s Lean Methodology?

Lean Methodology is aimed to eliminate waste (this involves time, inventory, energy & more). It helps you focus on the essentials. It’s core philosophy is to optimize all your resources toward creating a valuable product or service. It’s based on continuous improvement. It aligns with lean startup approach as well: as lean startups strive to stay lean, agile and waste-free, lean metholody proponents aim to eliminate clumsiness at the projects.

Bottom Line

The world of startups moves fast. Very fast. How do you logically keep up and adapt to all the changes & instead of relying on your gut feeling? Lean Canvas helps you capture all the uncertainties about your business and put it on the paper — in the clear form It takes 30 mins to fill in your lean canvas. The value is unbelievable. Take if from the people who constantly work with new ideas & validating them.

Olekii
Kateryna Khalimonchuk
Marketing Specialist
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