Why You Should Consider a Lean Approach
There are two dreaded words in the entrepreneurial lexicon that make most people cower in fear when they hear them: business plan.
But we are here to take the dread away by introducing you to the lean approach to business planning that generates all the elements of a traditional business plan in a fraction of the time. The Lean Canvas and Business Model Canvas are two variations on this theme.
Written business plans are usually only required for banks… and sometimes investors, although many investors will require a tight (8-10 slides) pitch deck before they ever ask for a business plan.
The Lean Canvas is a perfect way to see all the key aspects of your business at once in a quick and easy format, whether you’re just getting your idea or company started or even if you’re already in business. We recommend that you print out a hard copy of the canvas (the image below is clickable to download on your own) and then use sticky notes to fill out each section. This way if you change your mind or have a different idea, it’s easy to change out the information on the sticky note.
The table below demonstrates the main advantages of the lean approach to a traditional business plan. The key to the lean canvas is that it helps facilitate an iterative process where you can easily swap out different elements within the plan. This is why it is the preferred business plan approach for entrepreneurs and innovators, though the canvas works for all types of companies. The one-page format forces you to focus on the essence of your product or service in a short and concise way. This means that it will not only be easy for you to understand, but employees, prospective investors, board members, your mom or anyone else will be able to grasp the concepts in seconds. You can also easily convert your lean canvas into a pitch deck presentation.
Do you need a bank loan? We’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that lending institutions like banks may still require a written business plan. The good news is that if you use the lean canvas as the basis of your business plan, it will make it significantly easier to write out a full plan (and you can still submit the lean version to act as an executive summary). You can use a Lean Canvas as a brain map to draft out your ideas for completing a traditional business plan, or easily convert your Lean Canvas into a slick pitch deck.
Are you interested in getting help on your lean canvas? We can help! Join the North Tarrant Entrepreneur Education & Training Center and Sparkyard on June 22, 2021 for Burn the Business Plan! Get hands-on practice, one-on-one expert attention, and leave with a filled in lean canvas in your hands (all while networking with other entrepreneurs). You can RSVP for our Workshop here.
If you are unable to attend, then you can download a free template below and follow the blocks within the canvas. Within 20 minutes, you will have the first draft of your own lean canvas.
Resources for getting started on your Lean Canvas:
- Burn the Business Plan – What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do, book by Carl Schramm
- Easily validate your business with Customer Discovery with Max Mihro from EntrepreNerd here.
- Lean Canvas Intro with Uber – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvIN9STpzCQ
- Business Model Canvas Explained – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoAOzMTLP5s
About the Author
Marco Johnson is the Sparkyard Network Builder, a position funded by the UNTHSC. He is a Fort Worth resident and Global Citizen whose professional journey has led him to exotic, faraway locations including Eastern Europe, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the planet Neptune to name a few. He is skilled in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, impact investing, international agricultural development, private equity finance, and fine-tuning Weber carburetors. He is a Virgo and his spirit animal is a Tesla coil. All thoughts, views, and comments are his own and do not reflect the thoughts, views, or comments of The University of North Texas Health Science Center.