Thinking of starting your own business? Have you ever made a list of all things that you need to do get your business up and running? Does the aforementioned list of All.The.Things leave you feeling overwhelmed? Exhausted? Like you’re better off just grabbing a bag of Doritos and catching the latest episode of Good Girls on Hulu instead?  Been there, done that.

Starting a business is a lot of work. And anyone who says otherwise probably isn’t very good at business.  Even a simple side hustle requires time and commitment in the beginning. And if you’re a busy working mom who dreams of starting your own side business, it can be a real struggle-bus to bring your dream to a reality.  


Which is why I’m here. To help you, busy working mom, organize your ideas into a killer business plan that you can execute like Jaime and Cersi Lannister.  No Dragons needed.

Business Model Canvas

I’m going to show you how to use a Business Model Canvas to organize all those creative, beautiful ideas, thoughts and strategies into one visual chart.

Like This:

Business Model Canvas

Ready?! Let’s dig in.

Use a Business Model Canvas for New and Existing Businesses

Originally created by Alexander Ostenwalder and now owned by the business site Strategyzer, the Business Model Canvas falls somewhere between a napkin-sketch of an idea and a formal business plan. For an existing business, a Business Model Canvas can be used to check for alignment - do the strategies and actions you are using (or want to use) in your business affect your revenue?

In other words, are using your time and energy efficiently to grow your customer base and make money or are you wasting time on stuff that doesn’t matter. Like changing your website font for the millionth time, rather than finishing that e-course to sell. #truestory

A Business Model Canvas has four focus areas: customers, value propositions, business operations and finances.  It ties all four of these areas together and allows you to see how one area influences the others.

Customers

A Business Model Canvas examines who your customers are (Customer Segments), how you communicate with your customers (Channels) and what customers expect of your business (Customer Relationships).  

Customer Segments

  • Who are your customers? Do you have more than one segment? (i.e. different ages, retail versus individual, etc…)

  • Why do they buy your products or services?

  • What need does your business fulfill? What problem does it solve?

  • What are the habits, problems and needs of your customers?

  • What are the current alternatives to your business (who’s your competition?)


Customer Channels

  • How do communicate with your customers?

  • How do you promote your business?

  • How do you deliver your products or services?

  • Can you follow up with customers after the sale? How do you stay in touch with your customers?

Customer Relationships

  • How do you interact with customers to buy and use your products or services?

  • How do you handle customer service?

  • What are the expectations of each of your customer segments?


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Value Proposition

Essentially a Value Proposition explains how your business helps customers by solving a problem or filling a need. It acts as a road map to make sure that your business operations align with your customer segments.  

For example, if your biggest customer segment are millennial moms who buy organic baby products, your value proposition helps you focus on connecting with those moms and letting them know why your organic baby products are their best option. A value proposition for this type of business might read:

Brie’s Baby Boutique - Mother Nature’s Best for Less


Here are some questions to help clarify your businesses’ value proposition:

  • What need do you fulfill for each of your customer segments?

  • What do you think actually causes a customer to buy your product or service?

  • What kind of customer service do you offer?

  • What are your assumptions about your customers? How do you approve or disprove these assumptions?

The goal of the value proposition as part of the Business Model Canvas is to help the owner narrow down to the most critical tasks to their business. Once you understand your value proposition you can focus your activities and resources on supporting that value proposition.  


Business Operations

A Business Model Canvas examines how and what you need for a successful business operation. These include Key Partners, Key Activities and Key Resources.

Key Partners

  • Who helps you run your business? (Accountants, marketers, administrative help, family members, etc…)

  • Who are your suppliers?

  • Who are your retail partners?

  • Who are your employees?

  • Who helps you promote your business, either formally or informally?

Key Activities

What are the most important activities to focus on that align with your value proposition?

For example, if your value proposition is that you offer the most affordable organic baby products made with local ingredients, a key activity would be sourcing those local, organic ingredients.

Other key activities include:

  • Market research

  • Expanding your workforce

  • Marketing and connecting with influencers to increase brand awareness

  • Developing easy pathways to purchase

  • Developing an ongoing communication with customers (newsletters, email, etc…)

Key activities can change as your business grows.

Key Resources

What are the key resources your value proposition requires? These could include:

  •  Space

  • Raw material suppliers

  • Designers

  • Delivery services

  • Accounting

  • Marketing

Understanding what your key resources are will ensure these are a priority in your time and financial budgets.


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Finances

The ultimate goal of any business is to turn a profit.  The Business Canvas Model breaks down finances into two parts: Cost Structure (what you spend money on) and Revenue Streams (how you make money).  

Cost Structure

What are the most important parts of your business? Which key resources and activities are most expensive? For example, is your labor costs more than your raw materials? Does maintaining your website cost more than your travel or delivery costs? There are no right or wrong answers.   

Revenue Streams

How does your business make money? Through retail? Online? In person? How do you want to increase sales and how do you know that will be the most profitable way? These questions examine your revenue in contrast to your key activities. Again - are you spending time and energy in your business on the things that will increase revenue in some way?

  • How much will customers pay for your products or services?

  • How much are they currently paying?

  • How are they currently paying?


If you have more than one revenue stream, how does each stream contribute to the overall financial picture for your business?



Now it’s your turn.  Download your free Business Model Canvas template and start planning how you can focus your time and energy on creating a successful business that you love!



Author’s Note: The Business Model Canvas example and template provided free for personal use is adapted from www.strategyer.com and used in accordance with the Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME WORKBOOK

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME WORKBOOK

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