Lean Canvas isn’t just for Startups

The lean canvas  is a tool used by Startups to model a business idea. There are several versions, but they all have you think through essentially the same things: your customers, how you interact with them, and their problem that you are solving. Further they ask you to outline revenue and costs.

When used properly, it is designed for you to make several lean canvases with different assumptions on each one.

For instance, you may want to make an app for shared rides to and from other-than-school classes (band practice, teams, dance or music lessons). You identify several distinct user groups: after school kids, other than school kids, adults. Each group has different needs, wants and desires. In several cases the user is not the payer – parents pay, but kids get the lift.

A lean canvas is made for each user group and the riskiest bit in each scenario is identified. Those risks are tested to see which of those scenarios is the most likely to succeed. As you do that testing, you will be looking for all feedback that will help you refine your offering. For instance (yes, I played with this one) I thought the riskiest bit would be that parents were afraid to let their kids travel with ‘strangers’ (really just other parents that they could all get to know), but the feedback from parents was that even though they found the driving around irritating, they felt it was a way to show their parental love. That’s a tough one to overcome. If one were to pursue this app, we would have to show how this app would help parents in showing parental love, by maybe pointing out that not driving meant a home cooked meal.

You can see how this is a valuable tool for a startup that is trying to figure their way forward.

Can you use it in your traditional, mature business?

You bet you can!

In fact, you have a huge advantage, because you have access to your customers, right?

Start by making a canvas for each of your product/service offerings and each of your customer groups. for instance, if you had a women’s clothing store, you might have a canvas for business attire, for dressy and for casual. Your customer groups may be business women and retired women. Once you start playing with mixing and matching those, you get a better understanding of which group buys each of your offerings and what they are most interested in with them?

Then ask them. Start by asking them why they come to you. When I asked my bookkeeping customers why they came to me, they didn’t talk about competence, timeliness or adherence to regulations, no, they talked about comfort, relief and assurance. That changed the way I set up my service, how I offered it and the story I told to attract the right customers for me.

Think about your favourite customers. What do they buy? When? How?

How can you do that, only more?

What service is important to them? Back to the women’s clothing store: can you spin that service off as a value-add or as a paid option? Personal buyer, private viewings, trunk shows?

As you can see this is a great tool for strategic thinking for every business. What do you think?

If you would like to learn more, join me for our Lean Canvas is not just for Startups Workshop.

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That Didn’t Work

Now what?

What happens after you try something and it doesn’t work?

Deal with the Consequences

If there are consequences, deal with those first. If you have made promises, or commitments, honour them or apologize and undo them.

Forgive Yourself

Forgive yourself. There will be a part of you that is ashamed. You are thinking you could have done more or should have done it differently or something. Let that part go. At this point you are feeling pain and blame. You won’t be able to learn and make progress until you let that go. Later on, you will examine what happened to learn for next time. So forgive yourself.

Centre Yourself

Take a breath and centre yourself. You want to be able to come at the next steps from a place of strength, rather than reacting. Lift your head and pull your shoulders back. Really, do it, it will make you feel stronger. Body language reflects our feelings, and it can lead our feelings.

Congratulate Yourself

Congratulate yourself for having the courage to try something! You are already a hero! We need people like you to keep doing what you do. Thank you for leading the way.

Examine What Happened

Now, examine what happened. Process it in the way that work best for you. Journal it, write it out, talk to trusted people, go for long walks, create a vision board, whatever gives works for you. You are looking for the difference between what you had hoped would happen and what really happened and why there is a difference. It could be that no one wanted what you were trying to do, that you didn’t have the resources to do it, you didn’t know all the steps to do it, or that you executed it wrong. Unless you know that answer, every other project you do, will fail in the same way.

This is where the key – take time to think – is so important. The more the thinking we are doing makes us uncomfortable and I can assure you thinking about failure makes me very uncomfortable, the more important it is.

How do you figure it out? Ask people. Compare your project to successful ones. Try breaking it down and doing small experiments with each piece. For instance, send out a poll asking people about what you offered: the subject, delivery method, price and outcomes.

Next Time

Take that learning and start thinking about the next one. No one has succeeded without going through this process again and again, until they succeeded, and even then.

My Failure

This post comes out of our attempt to release a program. I’m ready to do the examination part, I suspect I will find that what we were offering is the problem, no one wants it. There are enough e-courses out there so that the delivery isn’t the problem. Our marketing plan wasn’t well thought out, and that needs work, too, but to inform our inner circle about it and not get a single sign up, even for the free course, makes me believe that the ‘what’ is the problem.

There’s more work to do there and any feedback would be appreciated.

Don’t Let a Good Failure Go to Waste

It sucks when it doesn’t work. Rather than just wallow and ignore it, I’m going to use it to get better and to make the next one more likely to work. I’m following Ash Maurya and his Lean Stack. His angle on Lean is the experimentation piece. Have a look here http://leanstack.com/lessons/leanstack/overview

We Need You

We need you to do what you do best. We need you to keep bringing your A game. We are your cheering squad! Go!