Translating an idea from head to paper is one of the most difficult and important phases of any project. However, writing a business plan often takes weeks or months of your time, and dozens of pages to describe. Fortunately, there is a more viable way. It’s Lean Canvas. Do you know how it works and what benefits it offers?
Business Plan or Lean Canvas?
The expansion on a business plan is an integral phase of every project. But the result is usually a long document that ends up in your administrative files or filed without any practical significance.
Steve Blank, the start-up guru from Silicon Valley, has a clear view of the meaning of the business plan: “A business plan: a document that investors make you write so they don’t read it.”
And that’s why Lean Canvas was created. A one-page version of the business plan that records just the most important information. This document will help start-ups and existing entrepreneurs to classify the idea and direction of their business. It is based on a template that will help you break down your concept and key assumptions into 9 basic building blocks.
Lean Canvas is concise and clear
The advantage of Lean Canvas is its conciseness and clarity - preventing you from drowning in piles of paper and capturing your ideas without the unnecessary “sauce”. This will also help reveal the potential risks and test them directly against reality. With a brief Lean Canvas you will also be able to introduce your business idea to everyone. Everyone will immediately understand your intent and the strengths of your ideas. You will simply create a business plan that can be read.
Developing a Lean Canvas is easy
To create a Lean Canvas, you can find many templates on the Internet to help you transfer your ideas onto paper. If you prefer a digital environment, online tools can help you create it. But you can also create it yourself and then share and edit it with others. When we create a Lean Canvas together with a client while working on the development of mobile applications, we usually need just a whiteboard and a few post-it notes.
The essence of Lean Canvas is these 9 most important areas that you should think about and then answer in individual blocks.
Never assume that everyone is your customer. Each product has its own target group. Think about who will really use your product. This will aid you greatly in creating mobile applications. Target the early adopters here, i.e. customers you think will most likely jump onboard.
Ask your customers what problems they are solving and then choose ideally the three most important answers. Define their current solutions and other existing alternatives. We also outline a similar approach in our article on the minimum viable product.
Define what features of your product will solve the main problems of customers. You identified the main issues in the previous step.
Unique value offer
Find the UVO of your product, i.e. the benefit that your customers will receive with their purchase. It’s basically a marketing phrase that identifies how to make users take an interest in your product.
Determine how much your product will cost. We price based on the cost of developing the application and the amount that customers now spend on alternative solutions to their problem.
Roads to customers
You also need to know how to get your product to your customers. You can use emailing, social media, networking, media, conferences or acquaintances. Select the platforms on which your customers operate.
Also determine what the success of the project will look like. Define a specific value to be achieved and an expected length of time it should take. It doesn’t have to be just profit. Other factors such as engagement, a percentage increase of new customers or increased interest can also be useful measures.
Write down what your fixed, variable and initial costs are, and find out how long you will last with finances if you don’t start earning right away. This is not a detailed financial plan, just a rough overview of your finances.
Finally, find your “unfair advantage”. Something that your product has and no one else can buy or copy. It can be expert knowledge, existing customers, inside information or your unique team of employees.
Remember that all these answers only need to fit on one page. Only then will you really notice just the essential elements.
So, now you have Lean Canvas, what’s next?
Now comes the slightly more difficult phase - implementing what you wrote down. Test everything with your customers. It is not written anywhere that your first Lean Canvas needs to be the last. If something doesn’t work and your users start requesting other features or you need to further develop the product, change the Lean Canvas alongside. As a result, you will save a lot of time, money and energy. You will reflect on everything that customers request, and your product will really meet their needs.
Collaborate with us on a Lean Canvas and get a new perspective
Consultations associated with the development of Lean Canvas can bring new insights into the planned project. From years of experience, we know what the needs are for further development, where the client wears rose-coloured glasses, what he should think about differently and what works in the field of software products and what does not.
In addition, our consultation usually does not end with just the creation of a Lean Canvas. Often there are other areas that need to be developed and elements that the clients themselves would not know about or pay enough attention to. Thanks to our expertise and knowledge, we will discover together and help design the optimal plan.
Lean Canvas in SYNETECH practice
For us, Lean Canvas is not only a great business plan, but also a way to verify the usefulness of a new start-up idea. In this respect, the approach is similar to the previously written about minimum viable product strategy.
An example of such verification can be a start-up looking to sell refreshments in office spaces. During our joint workshop, it became clear that the original idea did not meet the needs of customers and did not solve their main problem. Therefore, the clients left with the proviso that they had to “rethink” the whole project. Some time ago, however, they came back with a newly reworked assignment, and development will begin soon.
For these reasons, Lean Canvas is an integral part of new product development. It probably won’t give you a competitive advantage for that specific idea, but it will give you a solid start from which you can bounce back and find the right path to your customers.
Who can guide you through the Lean Canvas workshop?
Are you thinking about software product development and don’t know how to get started? We would be happy to advise you. We have years of experience in creating software products, we can consult with you, organize an internal workshop, help with design and product and design and develop the product.