Business Plan or Lean Canvas?

Which one is right for you?

It’s been said that “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” In other words, without a direction, a goal, or knowing where you are going, it’s all the same. You go nowhere. You can never get “there” because you don’t really have a destination. Without direction, without a destination, without a goal, how do you pick a direction, choose a road, or plot a course to get “there”?

If you don’t establish goals for your business, and steps to achieve those goals, you will never arrive at your destination–because you have not identified your destination.

Over the years, I’ve helped many people develop business plans and have been a strong advocate for business planning. That has not changed; I am still a strong advocate for business planning. Statistics show that people who take the time to do a business plan are twice as likely to obtain financing for their business and much more likely to grow their business.

However, there’s a new type of planning that is gaining momentum across the United States and in Minnesota: the Lean Canvas, sometimes called the Business Model Canvas.

The Lean Canvas is a one-page document that uses a visual chart covering nine building blocks to show how your business plans to make money: key partners, key activities, key resources, propositions, segments, relationships, channels, cost structure, and revenue stream.

If you are asking whether a business plan or lean canvas is right for you, it all depends. If you are seeking financing, your lender will let you know what they need to make a loan decision. A good starting point might be pulling together the Lean Canvas, bringing that to your lender, and asking them if they need a full business plan. If they do, you can use the Lean Canvas as a starting point.

Want to learn more about whether a business plans or a Lean Canvas is right for you? SCORE has a free online course that helps explain the differences between the two in greater detail. Access the SCORE course here.

Launch Minnesota

Launch Minnesota is a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation. The Lean Canvas model is one that they are encouraging, especially as it relates to businesses that are scalable–businesses that are fast growing and have the potential to attract the interest of angel investors.

Advance Thief River is a key partner in NoW Innovators Network (NoW Network), a group of Northwest Minnesota organizations, funded by Launch Minnesota, working together to nurture entrepreneurs within the region. The NoW Network is planning to offer Lean Canvas training through ILT Academy later this year. This high-quality training has been proven effective in the startup community. Registration is limited, so if you are interested, please send an email to Advance Thief River Director, Michelle Landsverk, to reserve a seat as soon as possible.

By Michelle Landsverk, Director, Advance Thief River and President of Landsverk and Associates, Inc.


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