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Business Model Canvas explained simply

How do you build a business model in which all important dimensions are considered and questions are answered? And: How do you create a simple visualization and structuring of the key factors of the business model?


Probably the simplest and at the same time most effective solution is the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Everything revolves around the questions:

On which channel do I reach my target groups so well with what makes me unique that they maintain a lasting active business relationship with me?
What tasks do I have, which do I implement with which resources and partners, so that sales and earnings outweigh costs and I can make a profit.

When working out a Business Model Canvas, all essential components as well as the core message, the goal and the target group of the business idea are clearly collected and presented on a "canvas". The Business Model Canvas could thus be summarized as a kind of "business plan on a page".

The clear business plan is - instead of being formulated in an eternally long text document - visually presented on a poster, which clearly presents the business model "at a glance". Sounds simple at first, but the model has a lot to offer. We will explain to you how a Business Model Canvas can be used to create a poster that is structured as simply as possible and consists of nine fields/areas for identifying the key factors of a business model.

Wait a minute...Where does BMC actually come from?

The model originates from the start-up world, but is now also used as a proven analysis and planning method of business model development by many medium-sized companies and corporations. The Business Canvas model was originally developed by Swiss entrepreneur and lecturer Alexander Osterwalder, who in his handbook "Business Model Generation. A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers" (Osterwalder, Alexander and Pigneur, Yves, 2010, John Wiley & Sons), makes a blueprint for a business model using the model, in 2004 as part of his dissertation.

What is the composition of a Business Model Canvas?

A canvas is a rectangular surface, approximately the size of DIN A 3 to DIN A 1. The Business Model Canvas according to Osterwalder consists of 9 different sub-surfaces. Each of the subareas represents a central aspect of the management object. The canvas can either be drawn on a sheet of paper or printed out in large format. If you don't want to draw it yourself: there are a lot of templates on the internet, we recommend the sheet on https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas.


Each area stands for one of the nine bowl factors, which will be presented in more detail in a moment. One collects the relevant key points in each field. To remain flexible, these can also be written down on sticky notes and later removed or exchanged as desired.

BMC as a valuable tool to ask the right questions

When developing a business concept or project, important questions should be asked and answers defined from them. The Business Model Canvas serves as an efficient method to answer these essential questions:

  1. what makes the business model unique?
  2. what is the target group(s)? What are the lifestyles/needs/needs that the business can satisfy?
  3. what customer relationships are established and maintained?
  4. what channels are used to communicate and distribute?
  5. what are the revenue streams?
  6. which partners can help me to deliver something that I do not have myself?
  7. what tasks do i have to bring the business model to success?
  8. what resources do I need to make the business model a success?
  9. what is the cost structure?

Structure & breakdown of the canvas areas

The BMC can be roughly divided into three areas:

  • In the center of the BMC is the value proposition of the business model.
  • On the left is the expenditure side: What tasks do I have, which resources and partners can I use to accomplish them?
  • On the right side is the revenue side: It is about customer loyalty and which channels are used to create and maintain loyalty.

How do I go about creating a Business Model Canvas?

With a large sheet of paper, Post its in different colors and shapes, and thick felt pens, you are already well equipped to create your first Business Model Canvas. Especially in times of remote work and home office situation, however, you can also make the creation fully-digital and collaborative in the team. As an alternative to the physical poster, a project management tool with whiteboard and organizer function can be used. Our recommendations that have proven themselves in practice:


The tool calls itself Visual Collaboration Software and is used in more and more agile companies and projects. The areas of application are diverse. From a simple whiteboard, which can be used in meetings, workshops or brainstorming sessions, to the representation of design thinking processes, strategy planning or agile workflows, everything can be mapped. Especially in remote agile project management and SCRUM processes, it has recently become more and more established and makes it possible to collect all important information and tasks even without a physical Kanban board and post its.

Microsoft One Note

The Office 365 note-taking and organization tool also offers a variety of possibilities with which one can collect the individual key factors, work them out together and present them in a variety of ways. A canvas can also be freely designed or sketched here using a digital pen. Especially practical: You can directly create your own To Do lists for the key factors by marking them.

What are the advantages of the Business Model Canvas compared to a business plan?

The poster shows very well in which areas dependencies are created and exist that contribute significantly to the success or failure of the business model. It shows relationships between essential factors and resources as well as stakeholders and customers (personas, customer segments).
When creating it, one can work collaboratively with several people on the canvas at the same time and, in contrast to a detailed text document, it is created much faster and can be viewed as a living document or poster. With the help of post its or digital notes, it remains flexible for changes and can be easily adapted quickly.
Another benefit is that employees and different teams involved can gain a common understanding of how each key factor is composed and interacts in the business model.

Using Business Model You for personal development

In a slightly modified form, BMC can also be used as a model for personal development: the Business Model You.
We recommend filling out the canvas together with sparring partners and also asking them: What do you think I can do best? Often one lacks an outside view oneself. By developing and filling out the contents of the canvas together, you get a valuable, external perspective and can work on the identified key factors. The method is also ideal for checking your own self-image against the external image that other people/colleagues/friends have of you.
We think that the BMC is a super effective tool to plan the digital transformation for projects in companies or to round out the business model for startups in a short time. In our view, it can and should be used as a basis for or as a supplement to the traditional business plan. Good luck with the creation.

Photo von Andrew Neel auf Unsplash

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