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What is the difference between the Lean Model and the Business Model Canvas?

Developing a Creative Business Model Canvas

Ian Oliver

Head of Creative Entrepreneurship at the Centre for Creative Practices

The Lean Model Canvas – A Summary

Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation is a great hit that illustrates a range of planning and marketing strategies for competitive and business success. However, more ideas have come up from this model, among which is the Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya. While the Business Model Generation applied the methodologies used by Skype and Apple to attain product success in the market, the Lean Canvas concentrated on the way timeline affects the revenue stream of a business. It is therefore more target-specific and incorporates both small and large businesses effectively. It is a perfect model which took a few months to rewrite.

The Lean Canvas is more actionable and entrepreneur-focused. It deeply focuses on startup factors such as uncertainty and risk. Because it was space constrained, Ash Maurya added more elements:

  • Problem- a problem box was included because several businesses do fail applying a lot of effort, financial resources and time to build the wrong product. It is therefore vital to understand the problem first.
  • Solution- once a problem has been recognized the next thing is to find an amicable solution to it. As such, a solution box with the Minimum Viable Product “MVP” concept was included.
  • Key Metrics- a startup business can better focus on one metric and build on it.  The metrics include the range of products or services you want to provide. It is therefore crucial that the right metric is identified because the wrong one could be catastrophic to the startup.
  • Unfair Advantage- this is basically the competitive advantage. A startup should recognize whether or not it has an unfair advantage over others.

There are a few other things that Ash Maurya omitted from the original Lean Canvas in an attempt to improve it. These include:

  • Key Activities and Key Resources- Ash found out that they were more outside-focused when gauged with the entrepreneur’s needs. They had also been covered in the Solution box.
  • Customer Relationships- a deeply focused startup business should establish customer relationships from the beginning. As such, these were covered in the Channels box.
  • Key Partners- Ash removed this category regarding the fact that most startups don’t require specific key partners when putting up because they deal in unknown and untested products. As such, it would be a waste of time trying to build such relationships.

The Lean Canvas is also majorly meant for entrepreneurs and not the customers, consultants, investors or advisors. It has no specific medium of implementation and you can use it first and then shift to the Business Model Canvas or either way.

Creative Business Model Canvas

Find out more about the canvases and how to use them in your creative business

Developing a Creative Business Model Canvas

The core issue at stake is to identify and design adequate tools enabling students and graduates of creative disciplines to successfully develop their business ideas.   

One of the critical tools missing at present in creative education is a business planning model that reflects the specifics of the creative sector.

For far too long education in creative disciplines has focused solely on artistic and academic excellence, and has not offered tools, knowledge and recourses helping their students to build careers as creative entrepreneurs.

At the same time business planning has focused on the writing of formal business plans and not on developing models that allowed for easy testing and developing of business ideas.

This all changed with the development of the business model canvas and the lean model canvas.  These models allow businesses to quickly test and develop ideas in a lean manner before taking them to market.

We have identified a huge potential in applying the lean methodology and the business model canvas to support business planning by creative entrepreneurs.

However, the focus of creative businesses is not only on the business side but also on their cultural, aesthetical or social impact, areas that we felt should also be suitably addressed in the business model planning.

Yet, the currently available canvases do not include these aspects and thus we are working to adapt the existing models to the specific needs of creative sector.

Our adapted Creative Entrepreneurs Business Model Canvas is based on the business model canvas developed by Alex Osterwalder and the Lean Business Canvas developed by Ash Maurya.


Your Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent and pivot your business model.

Your Value Proposition

The Value Proposition Canvas makes explicit how you are creating value for your customers. It helps you to design products and services your customers want.


  • Osterwalder, Alexander, and Yves Pigneur. Business model generation: a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
  • Maurya, Ash. Running lean: iterate from plan A to a plan that works. " O'Reilly Media, Inc.", 2012.

Creative Business Model Canvas

What are Value Propositions? How can knowing mine help me?

The value proposition is central to the overall business model and should form the anchor for all decision-making, operations, and customer engagement. It is more than a set of words; more than a set of marketing messages; it is the framework for how the business aligns its activities and output with its target audience’s needs, to deliver a compelling experience that can ultimately be monetized through an exchange of value.

The Business Model Canvas

What are the origins of the Business Model Canvas? The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean startup template for developing new or documenting existing business models.

Creative Entrepreneurs Training

Creative Entrepreneurs Intensive Training Programme

3 - 5 February 2017

Ashford, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Early Bird Price €250 till 31 December 2016 then €300

You know that feeling? You want to develop your creative or artistic practice and give it some structure. But there is never enough time or resources to focus on the business side of your practice. On the other hand it drives you mad that it doesn’t work as it could and should. You are not making enough sales, not getting enough contracts or you simply do not know how to start to build a sustainable creative career.

We have been there ourselves and know exactly how frustrating it can be. All we can recommend to you is to STOP, take 2.5 days out and join us for our intensive Creative Entrepreneurs Training Programme.

You will spend this time working on the business side of your creative practice. Together with you we will (re)define where you are right now with your creative business and where you want to be. You will formulate goals and steps to take with the primary focus on your specific creative niche.


CFCP Creative Entrepreneurs Academy

What people say about the CFCP Creative Entrepreneurs Academy