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The Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. This method from the bestselling management book Business Model Generation is applied in leading organizations and start-ups worldwide.

book business model canvas

The Business Model Canvas enables you to:

  • Visualize and communicate a simple story of your existing business model.
  • Use the canvas to design new business models, whether you are a start-up or an existing businessManage a portfolio of business models
  • You can use the canvas to easily juggle between "Explore" and "Exploit" business models.

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Business Model Canvas: Explained with Examples

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Got a new business idea, but don’t know how to put it to work? Want to improve your existing business model? Overwhelmed by writing your business plan? There is a one-page technique that can provide you the solution you are looking for, and that’s the business model canvas.

In this guide, you’ll have the Business Model Canvas explained, along with steps on how to create one. All business model canvas examples in the post can be edited online.

What is a Business Model Canvas

A business model is simply a plan describing how a business intends to make money. It explains who your customer base is and how you deliver value to them and the related details of financing. And the business model canvas lets you define these different components on a single page.   

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management tool that lets you visualize and assess your business idea or concept. It’s a one-page document containing nine boxes that represent different fundamental elements of a business.  

The business model canvas beats the traditional business plan that spans across several pages, by offering a much easier way to understand the different core elements of a business.

The right side of the canvas focuses on the customer or the market (external factors that are not under your control) while the left side of the canvas focuses on the business (internal factors that are mostly under your control). In the middle, you get the value propositions that represent the exchange of value between your business and your customers.

The business model canvas was originally developed by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur and introduced in their book ‘ Business Model Generation ’ as a visual framework for planning, developing and testing the business model(s) of an organization.

Business Model Canvas Explained

What Are the Benefits of Using a Business Model Canvas

Why do you need a business model canvas? The answer is simple. The business model canvas offers several benefits for businesses and entrepreneurs. It is a valuable tool and provides a visual and structured approach to designing, analyzing, optimizing, and communicating your business model.

  • The business model canvas provides a comprehensive overview of a business model’s essential aspects. The BMC provides a quick outline of the business model and is devoid of unnecessary details compared to the traditional business plan.
  • The comprehensive overview also ensures that the team considers all required components of their business model and can identify gaps or areas for improvement.
  • The BMC allows the team to have a holistic and shared understanding of the business model while enabling them to align and collaborate effectively.
  • The visual nature of the business model canvas makes it easier to refer to and understand by anyone. The business model canvas combines all vital business model elements in a single, easy-to-understand canvas.
  • The BMC can be considered a strategic analysis tool as it enables you to examine a business model’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges.
  • It’s easier to edit and can be easily shared with employees and stakeholders.
  • The BMC is a flexible and adaptable tool that can be updated and revised as the business evolves. Keep your business agile and responsive to market changes and customer needs.
  • The business model canvas can be used by large corporations and startups with just a few employees.
  • The business model canvas effectively facilitates discussions among team members, investors, partners, customers, and other stakeholders. It clarifies how different aspects of the business are related and ensures a shared understanding of the business model.
  • You can use a BMC template to facilitate discussions and guide brainstorming brainstorming sessions to generate insights and ideas to refine the business model and make strategic decisions.
  • The BMC is action-oriented, encouraging businesses to identify activities and initiatives to improve their business model to drive business growth.
  • A business model canvas provides a structured approach for businesses to explore possibilities and experiment with new ideas. This encourages creativity and innovation, which in turn encourages team members to think outside the box.

How to Make a Business Model Canvas

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a business canvas model.

Step 1: Gather your team and the required material Bring a team or a group of people from your company together to collaborate. It is better to bring in a diverse group to cover all aspects.

While you can create a business model canvas with whiteboards, sticky notes, and markers, using an online platform like Creately will ensure that your work can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Create a workspace in Creately and provide editing/reviewing permission to start.

Step 2: Set the context Clearly define the purpose and the scope of what you want to map out and visualize in the business model canvas. Narrow down the business or idea you want to analyze with the team and its context.

Step 3: Draw the canvas Divide the workspace into nine equal sections to represent the nine building blocks of the business model canvas.

Step 4: Identify the key building blocks Label each section as customer segment, value proposition, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, and cost structure.

Step 5: Fill in the canvas Work with your team to fill in each section of the canvas with relevant information. You can use data, keywords, diagrams, and more to represent ideas and concepts.

Step 6: Analyze and iterate Once your team has filled in the business model canvas, analyze the relationships to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. Discuss improvements and make adjustments as necessary.

Step 7: Finalize Finalize and use the model as a visual reference to communicate and align your business model with stakeholders. You can also use the model to make informed and strategic decisions and guide your business.

What are the Key Building Blocks of the Business Model Canvas?

There are nine building blocks in the business model canvas and they are:

Customer Segments

Customer relationships, revenue streams, key activities, key resources, key partners, cost structure.

  • Value Proposition

When filling out a Business Model Canvas, you will brainstorm and conduct research on each of these elements. The data you collect can be placed in each relevant section of the canvas. So have a business model canvas ready when you start the exercise.  

Business Model Canvas Template

Let’s look into what the 9 components of the BMC are in more detail.

These are the groups of people or companies that you are trying to target and sell your product or service to.

Segmenting your customers based on similarities such as geographical area, gender, age, behaviors, interests, etc. gives you the opportunity to better serve their needs, specifically by customizing the solution you are providing them.

After a thorough analysis of your customer segments, you can determine who you should serve and ignore. Then create customer personas for each of the selected customer segments.

Customer Persona Template for Business Model Canvas Explained

There are different customer segments a business model can target and they are;

  • Mass market: A business model that focuses on mass markets doesn’t group its customers into segments. Instead, it focuses on the general population or a large group of people with similar needs. For example, a product like a phone.  
  • Niche market: Here the focus is centered on a specific group of people with unique needs and traits. Here the value propositions, distribution channels, and customer relationships should be customized to meet their specific requirements. An example would be buyers of sports shoes.
  • Segmented: Based on slightly different needs, there could be different groups within the main customer segment. Accordingly, you can create different value propositions, distribution channels, etc. to meet the different needs of these segments.
  • Diversified: A diversified market segment includes customers with very different needs.
  • Multi-sided markets: this includes interdependent customer segments. For example, a credit card company caters to both their credit card holders as well as merchants who accept those cards.

Use STP Model templates for segmenting your market and developing ideal marketing campaigns

Visualize, assess, and update your business model. Collaborate on brainstorming with your team on your next business model innovation.

In this section, you need to establish the type of relationship you will have with each of your customer segments or how you will interact with them throughout their journey with your company.

There are several types of customer relationships

  • Personal assistance: you interact with the customer in person or by email, through phone call or other means.
  • Dedicated personal assistance: you assign a dedicated customer representative to an individual customer.  
  • Self-service: here you maintain no relationship with the customer, but provides what the customer needs to help themselves.
  • Automated services: this includes automated processes or machinery that helps customers perform services themselves.
  • Communities: these include online communities where customers can help each other solve their own problems with regard to the product or service.
  • Co-creation: here the company allows the customer to get involved in the designing or development of the product. For example, YouTube has given its users the opportunity to create content for its audience.

You can understand the kind of relationship your customer has with your company through a customer journey map . It will help you identify the different stages your customers go through when interacting with your company. And it will help you make sense of how to acquire, retain and grow your customers.

Customer Journey Map

This block is to describe how your company will communicate with and reach out to your customers. Channels are the touchpoints that let your customers connect with your company.

Channels play a role in raising awareness of your product or service among customers and delivering your value propositions to them. Channels can also be used to allow customers the avenue to buy products or services and offer post-purchase support.

There are two types of channels

  • Owned channels: company website, social media sites, in-house sales, etc.
  • Partner channels: partner-owned websites, wholesale distribution, retail, etc.

Revenues streams are the sources from which a company generates money by selling their product or service to the customers. And in this block, you should describe how you will earn revenue from your value propositions.  

A revenue stream can belong to one of the following revenue models,

  • Transaction-based revenue: made from customers who make a one-time payment
  • Recurring revenue: made from ongoing payments for continuing services or post-sale services

There are several ways you can generate revenue from

  • Asset sales: by selling the rights of ownership for a product to a buyer
  • Usage fee: by charging the customer for the use of its product or service
  • Subscription fee: by charging the customer for using its product regularly and consistently
  • Lending/ leasing/ renting: the customer pays to get exclusive rights to use an asset for a fixed period of time
  • Licensing: customer pays to get permission to use the company’s intellectual property
  • Brokerage fees: revenue generated by acting as an intermediary between two or more parties
  • Advertising: by charging the customer to advertise a product, service or brand using company platforms

What are the activities/ tasks that need to be completed to fulfill your business purpose? In this section, you should list down all the key activities you need to do to make your business model work.

These key activities should focus on fulfilling its value proposition, reaching customer segments and maintaining customer relationships, and generating revenue.

There are 3 categories of key activities;

  • Production: designing, manufacturing and delivering a product in significant quantities and/ or of superior quality.
  • Problem-solving: finding new solutions to individual problems faced by customers.
  • Platform/ network: Creating and maintaining platforms. For example, Microsoft provides a reliable operating system to support third-party software products.

This is where you list down which key resources or the main inputs you need to carry out your key activities in order to create your value proposition.

There are several types of key resources and they are

  • Human (employees)
  • Financial (cash, lines of credit, etc.)
  • Intellectual (brand, patents, IP, copyright)
  • Physical (equipment, inventory, buildings)

Key partners are the external companies or suppliers that will help you carry out your key activities. These partnerships are forged in oder to reduce risks and acquire resources.

Types of partnerships are

  • Strategic alliance: partnership between non-competitors
  • Coopetition: strategic partnership between partners
  • Joint ventures: partners developing a new business
  • Buyer-supplier relationships: ensure reliable supplies

In this block, you identify all the costs associated with operating your business model.

You’ll need to focus on evaluating the cost of creating and delivering your value propositions, creating revenue streams, and maintaining customer relationships. And this will be easier to do so once you have defined your key resources, activities, and partners.  

Businesses can either be cost-driven (focuses on minimizing costs whenever possible) and value-driven (focuses on providing maximum value to the customer).

Value Propositions

This is the building block that is at the heart of the business model canvas. And it represents your unique solution (product or service) for a problem faced by a customer segment, or that creates value for the customer segment.

A value proposition should be unique or should be different from that of your competitors. If you are offering a new product, it should be innovative and disruptive. And if you are offering a product that already exists in the market, it should stand out with new features and attributes.

Value propositions can be either quantitative (price and speed of service) or qualitative (customer experience or design).

Value Proposition Canvas

What to Avoid When Creating a Business Model Canvas

One thing to remember when creating a business model canvas is that it is a concise and focused document. It is designed to capture key elements of a business model and, as such, should not include detailed information. Some of the items to avoid include,

  • Detailed financial projections such as revenue forecasts, cost breakdowns, and financial ratios. Revenue streams and cost structure should be represented at a high level, providing an overview rather than detailed projections.
  • Detailed operational processes such as standard operating procedures of a business. The BMC focuses on the strategic and conceptual aspects.
  • Comprehensive marketing or sales strategies. The business model canvas does not provide space for comprehensive marketing or sales strategies. These should be included in marketing or sales plans, which allow you to expand into more details.
  • Legal or regulatory details such as intellectual property, licensing agreements, or compliance requirements. As these require more detailed and specialized attention, they are better suited to be addressed in separate legal or regulatory documents.
  • Long-term strategic goals or vision statements. While the canvas helps to align the business model with the overall strategy, it should focus on the immediate and tangible aspects.
  • Irrelevant or unnecessary information that does not directly relate to the business model. Including extra or unnecessary information can clutter the BMC and make it less effective in communicating the core elements.

What Are Your Thoughts on the Business Model Canvas?

Once you have completed your business model canvas, you can share it with your organization and stakeholders and get their feedback as well. The business model canvas is a living document, therefore after completing it you need to revisit and ensure that it is relevant, updated and accurate.

What best practices do you follow when creating a business model canvas? Do share your tips with us in the comments section below.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

FAQs About the Business Model Canvas

  • Use clear and concise language
  • Use visual-aids
  • Customize for your audience
  • Highlight key insights
  • Be open to feedback and discussion

More Related Articles

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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

The 9-Step Business Model Canvas Explained (2023 Update)

book business model canvas

Written by Raquel Alberdi

Business | entrepreneurship, 16 comments(s).

Business Model Canvas

Blog » The 9-Step Business Model Canvas Explained (2023 Update)

book business model canvas

“A major mistake made by many start-ups around the world is focusing on the technology, the software, the product, and the design, but neglecting to ever figure out the business . And by “business” we simply mean how the company makes money by acquiring and serving its customers”.

-Reid Hoffman

After meeting with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners over the years I believe the LinkedIn co-founder and Blitzscaling author Reid Hoffman’s got it spot on.

People tend to focus on specific parts of their business, such as which software packages are being used, which is the cheapest supplier, how to optimize internal processes…?

They get so bogged down in the details of the day-to-day running that they lose the overall vision of their business.

Without this vision they are unable to scale, they make marginal profits, miss opportunities, struggle to innovate, and end up running “just another” business.

Another handy metaphor in understanding this common mistake is the soldier in the trenches .

Every meter of ground gained comes at a heavy cost, mistakes are made, and progress is hard-fought and slow…a day-to-day experience for 99% of entrepreneurs and businessmen.

But when you do have that 360 vision you see the entire battlefield. Decisions are much clearer, fewer mistakes are made, and progress is fast and methodical.

Fortunately, a business model framework exists that gives you both vision and clarity .

The Business Model Canvas provides entrepreneurs, business owners, and strategists with a tool to analyze, structure, and evolve a business while always keeping the bigger picture front of mind.

So let’s take a closer look at how it works.

Table of Content

What is the Business Model Canvas?

Created by Swiss entrepreneur and Strategyzer co-founder, Alexander Osterwalder, the Business Model Canvas is a visual representation of the 9 key building blocks that form the foundations of every successful business. It’s a blueprint to help entrepreneurs invent, design, and build models with a more systematic approach.

Why is it so popular within the business community?

Its simplicity. The business model canvas allows us to carry out a high-level analysis without drilling down and getting lost in the details. You just draw out the 9 building blocks on a blank canvas, fill them in as each concept relates to your business, and hang it somewhere everybody can see.

It’s a visual overview of your entire business on a single canvas.

While the Business Model Canvas is an extremely fluid concept and hyper-specific to individual companies, each canvas is still broken down into these 9 key building blocks:

Customer Segments

Value propositions, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partners.

When laid out on the canvas the model will look something like this:

 Scheme of business model in which 9 important fields are developed for its execution.

While you’ve probably come across each of the 9 building blocks before, the attractiveness of the Business Model Canvas is that it confines them to a single page , not a traditional 42-page document.

This makes it a lot easier to digest, as well as assess existing business models or map out new ideas.

How do I fill out the Business Model Canvas?

To start your Business Model Canvas you will need to breakdown and analyze each of the 9 building blocks.

A good way to approach this is to gather the heads from marketing, sales, operations, finance, and manufacturing (if product-based) and pencil-in a morning where you can all meet together.

Then, after drawing a mock canvas onto a whiteboard, proceed to dissect and discuss each of the 9 building blocks as they relate to your business. You can use sticky notes to better organize your thoughts around the canvas.

If you are an entrepreneur or new business owner working alone and don’t have a team to bounce your ideas off, not to worry. You can still carry out your analysis before sharing it with a like-minded entrepreneurial community or forum, like those found on ThePowerMBA , to get useful, insightful feedback.

Whichever way you decide to approach it, I recommend you complete each block in the following order:

  • Cost structure

For continuity, I’m going to use the fashion retail giant Zara when analyzing each of the 9 key building blocks.

If you’d like to skip to another case study similar to your own business, navigate to the table of contents at the top of the page and select one of the other business model canvas examples.

Customer segment business model canvas for Zara company

The first block of the Business Canvas Model is about understanding who is the most important customer(s) you’re delivering value to. Or, in other words, who are they? What do they do? And why would they buy your product or service?

Not a single company exists without its clients, making customer segments the best block to start with while drawing out your business model canvas.

A great exercise to define your customer segments is to brainstorm and create your company’s buyer persona (s) .

Buyer personas are fictional depictions of an ideal or hypothetical client. Typically when brainstorming a buyer persona you’d want to define certain characteristics (age, demographic, gender, income, industry, pain points, goals, etc.)

However, remember at this stage we want a snapshot of our customer segment. There’s no need to jump into great detail just yet.

In the case of Zara, there are three distinct customer segments to whom they offer different products.

The products created for each of these customer segments (clothing, shoes, and accessories) are not trans-consumable. That is to say, a woman’s dress is highly unlikely to be worn by a 7-year-old child.

Once we know exactly who it is we are targeting, it’s time to look at what we as a company have to offer.

Zara Customer Segments business model canvas template showing the development of the 9 fields

The second phase is about figuring out your company’s value propositions , and importantly, your UVP (unique value proposition). The “what” that makes customers turn to you, over your competitors? Which of their problems are you best at solving?

Each value proposition consists of a bundle of products or services that fulfill the needs of a buyer persona from your customer segment. It’s the intersection between what your company offers, and the reason or impulse customers have for purchasing.

Some popular questions to ask while determining your UVP are:

  • Which specific customer pain point are you trying to solve?
  • What job are you helping customers get done?
  • How does your UVP eliminate customer pain points?
  • What products or services do you provide that answer this specific pain point?

So let’s try and apply this to Zara. Why do people choose to purchase from them, over their competitors?

Zara’s principal value propositions are fairly clear. They offer various ranges of stylish men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories at an affordable price.

But there’s more to it than that.

If we dive a little deeper we see Zara’s value propositions are more complex, which are behind the success of the brand:

Fast fashion

Zara adds new clothes and designs to its collections every 2-3 weeks, both in its stores and online. It keeps the brand updated, fresh, and modern while maintaining its all-important medium price point

Great eCommerce experience

Once you enter Zara’s online store you’re presented with a clean, easy-to-navigate, and high-end feel. The customer segments are visible on the left navigation bar with a search tab to further aid customers with their online experience.

Zara's Canvas business model where you can see the innovative presentation of its image

Localized stores

You can find a store in nearly all major retail locations (shopping malls, retail outlets, airports, etc.) meaning accessibility is not an issue for the majority of consumers.

Flagship stores

Zara demonstrates its aesthetic evolution to customers through its flagship stores. The recent opening of their Hudson Yards , New York City flagship is a great example of this. Customers shop around its vivid, minimalist layout offering them an experience aligned with the brand’s deeper, eco-friendly values.

Zara's Canvas business model where you can see the innovative presentation of the image of its stores

Zara Hudson Yards, New York

Business Model Canvas Template Zara - Value Propositions

The next step is to ask yourself how you are reaching your customers, and through which channels ?

This includes both the channels that customers want to communicate with you as well as how they’ll receive your products or services.

Is it going to be a physical channel? (store, field sales representatives, etc.) Or is it a digital channel? (mobile, web, cloud, etc.).

Zara has 3 primary channels in which they communicate and deliver products to its customers:

  • Direct sales through their stores
  • Online (both app and website)
  • Social media

Customers can go to a traditional “bricks and mortar” store to browse, model, and purchase different items of clothing at one of their retail stores.

Alternatively, they can shop online or through their mobile application and have the product delivered straight to their door or nearest store. The choice is completely up to them!

So that covers Zara’s commercial channels, but what about how they communicate with customers?

While they do communicate through their mobile app, their predominant channel is social media.

What’s more, they’re really, really good at it.

For example, did you know that Zara invests less than 0.3% of its sales revenue into advertising?

This is only possible due to an A-rated social media presence . Customer queries are not only dealt with quickly, but recommended re-works are sent back to HQ, forwarded onto in-house designers who then apply the feedback to future collections.

This customer-first approach through fluid communication channels has saved them thousands of dollars in marketing, strengthened their brand, and created a loyal customer base.

You should only step away from this building block once you’ve decided how each of your customer segments want to be reached.

Zara Channels business model canvas template where its components are developed

Once you have acquired customers, you will need to think about how you can build , nurture, and grow those relationships.

Now, this can be automated and transactional like large eCommerce brands Amazon or Alibaba. Or, it could be at the complete opposite end of the scale and require a more personal relationship you’d typically have with a bank or your local bike shop.

Zara’s relationship with its customers is threefold, and lies somewhere in the middle of transactional and personal:

  • Salesperson at store
  • Brand through social media
  • Sentimental attachment to a product

Yes, you have the initial transactional touchpoint at the store or online, something relatively impersonal and for many the only interaction they’ll have with the brand.

However, customers (especially in the fashion industry) are encouraged to continue to interact with a brand through social media platforms.

As we mentioned before when discussing channels, Zara has a very effective communication system in place. Not only can people instantly get in touch with the brand, but also engage with new posts, images, and collections uploaded to social media.

This personal approach to customer relationship building can, in some cases, lead to the natural growth of brand ambassadors and communities .

An attachment can also develop between customers and particular garments or accessories from one of their collections. The sentimental attachment to these products also creates another potential form of brand loyalty.

The relations with Zara's clients to give a Business Model Canvas where the 9 points to be developed are seen

Now that you’ve described how you are going to create real value for your customers, it’s time to look at how you plan to capture that value.

What are your revenue streams? Is it going to be a transactional, direct sales strategy ? Are you going to consider a freemium mode l, where you give a portion of your product or service away for free with the idea of converting later on down the line?

If you’re a SaaS company such as SalesForce or Strava , then it’s likely that a licensing or subscription revenue model will be more appropriate.

At Zara, it’s extremely simple. They make their money by selling clothes and accessories either at a store or online.

Zara business model canvas template for the development of Revenue streams within the 9 points to work

As you can see, we’ve filled in the entire right-hand side of our business model canvas. We touched upon:

Customer segments

  • Value propositions
  • Revenue streams
  • Distribution channels

Now it’s time to move over to the left side of the business canvas model and look at what we need, internally , to deliver our value propositions.

Key resources of the Zara Business Model Canvas

To start with, let’s take a look at key resources.

The key resources are all things you need to have, or the assets required to create that value for customers.

This could be anything from intellectual property (patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.) to physical holdings (factories, offices, delivery vans, etc.) right down to finances (the initial cash flow perhaps needed to start your brand).

Another key resource every company needs to consider is its human capital . Are you going to need highly specialized software engineers? Or field-based sales teams?

They are relatively capital-heavy resources that need to be factored into your business model.

In the case of Zara, they are going to need a number of key resources if they hope to deliver their propositions:

  • Stock management
  • A large, interconnected network of physical stores
  • A strong brand
  • Logistics and supply chain infrastructure

Stock is vital for both online and offline customers.

If they are unable to supply their range of products and meet customer demands, satisfaction levels fall and they have a serious problem on their hands.

A large distribution network of brick and mortar stores combined with a strong brand name help mitigate these factors, as well as reinforce any ongoing marketing activities and communication efforts.

Finally, an efficient logistics process within Zara is critical, especially when you consider the complexities involved with such a large-scale operation.

They will require the necessary technology to analyze data on inventory, storage, materials, production, and packaging, with the staff to execute each of these stages and manage the delivery of the final products.

Zara business model canvas template where the Key Resources are developed

The next step is to define the key activities – the areas you need to be good at to create value for your customers.

To mix it up a little let’s take a look at a slightly different business in Uber .

Their key activities can be broken down into:

  • Web and mobile app development
  • Driver recruitment
  • Marketing: customer acquisition
  • Customer service activities : drivers’ ratings, incidents, etc.

They need a fast, clean UX for their customers using the app, drivers to carry out their service, and the ability to both market the product and deal with any customer queries.

Zara’s key activities will differ to those of Uber. Some of the things they need to consider would be:

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail process (point of sale and 3rd party management)
  • Distribution channel / logistics

Design is a key activity as Zara’s value proposition is to provide stylish garments at an affordable price. Their collections need to be constantly updated to follow the latest fashion trends at the time.

To produce their collections Zara will also require manufacturing capabilities. Now Zara doesn’t own their own factories (we will get to that in the Key Partners section) but they still need to be involved in the garment manufacturing process.

Everything from fabric selection to pattern making, to detailing and dyeing affects the outcome of the final product which of course they have to then go on and sell.

The effective management of the retail and distribution channels (online, offline, shipping, and communication with providers) is also key. A breakdown in either of these activities, such as a poor relationship with an important provider will have serious consequences for the business.

Zara business model canvas template showing the key activities for its development

Most modern business models now require brands to build out and work with various key partners to fully leverage their business model.

This includes partnerships such as joint ventures and non-equity strategic alliances as well as typical relationships with buyers, suppliers, and producers.

A great example of a strategic partnership would be between ThePowerMBA and Forbes . In exchange for exposure of our brand to the magazine’s global audience, we provide expertise and content on high-level business education programs.

As we touched upon when discussing key activities , Zara requires strategic partnerships with many different providers if they are to design and produce their collections.

Another key partner is their major holding company, Inditex .

Inditex has several subsidiaries including Massimo Dutti , Pull & Bear , and Oysho . Being a subsidiary of Inditex means they share a consolidated balance sheet, stakeholders, management and control, and various legal responsibilities.

While as a subsidiary Zara is afforded certain freedoms when it comes to design, delivery, and the general running of the company, the overall strategy will need to be aligned with Inditex and its other subsidiaries.

Zara Key Partners business model canvas template where the eighth point is developed

The final step of the Business Model Canvas is to ask yourself, how much is it going to cost to run this model?

This includes some of the more obvious needs such as manufacturing costs, physical space, rent, payroll, but also areas such as marketing activities.

If you are unsure of exactly what to include in your cost structure take a look at a Profit and Loss statement ( P&L ) from a competitor or company in a similar industry to yours. You’ll find many items overlap such as research and development ( R&D ), cost of goods sold, admin expenses, operating costs, etc.

Once that’s done you should prioritize your key activities and resources and find out if they are fixed or variable costs .

As Zara is such a large, corporate business they are going to have both fixed costs (rent, payroll, point of sales personnel) and variables, such as costs associated with the fluctuating sale of goods, purchase of materials and, manufacturing costs.

Once you’ve completed these 9 steps, your Business Canvas Model should look something like this:

Business Model Canvas Examples

Hopefully, you were able to get a good feel for the effectiveness of the business model canvas with our run-through of Zara.

However, if you found it difficult to follow due to the stark difference between your industries, I’m going to quickly go through 3 more companies to demonstrate the tool’s flexibility:

  • Netflix (Media service/production)
  • Vintae (Vineyard)

Even if these business model canvas examples don’t align exactly with your industry, I honestly believe that studying different models gives you a competitive advantage in your professional career regardless.

If you’re currently employed by a company, you’ll better understand how your specific role helps the company achieve some of its “long-term” goals.

Alternatively, if you are a business owner yourself (or perhaps thinking of starting your own business) you’ll have a better understanding of your business and where potential opportunities lay.

I’m sure you’re familiar with our next business model canvas example candidate, Netflix .

The global media company offers an online streaming service of various movies, documentaries, and TV programs produced in-house or licensed 3rd-party content. Their success sparked a revolution in the online media world with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Disney, HBO, and Hulu all rushing to launch their own online video streaming platforms.

Netflix started life as an online DVD rental company, basically a web version of the more popular (at least at that time) “bricks and mortar” Blockbuster.

Co-founder Reed Hastings predicted as far back as 1999 that the future of media was in online streaming, saying “postage rates were going to keep going up and the internet was going to get twice as fast at half the price every 18 months.”

It wouldn’t be until 2007 that Hasting’s prediction would become true when Netflix, as we now know it, was born.

So let’s take a current look at their business model canvas:

Netflix business model in which the 9 topics are taken into consideration

As you probably know, there are very few people out there who haven’t subscribed, watched, or at least heard of Netflix. There is content for everybody: wildlife documentaries, sci-fi movies, rom coms, action-thrillers, you name it – it’s there.

That’s why their customer segment can be classified as a “ mass market ” as the base is just so diverse.

All people require is a computer, TV, internet, and/or smartphone and they’re good to go. For most developed markets, that covers just about everybody.

Value Proposition

Whether on the train to work, sitting in the car (if you’re not driving!), or relaxing at home in front of the TV, you can consume their online, on-demand video streaming service.

They also have a huge library of content for consumers to choose from, ensuring that people keep coming back, as well as increasing their mass-market appeal.

They also produce high-quality, original content to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Most people access Netflix either through their website or mobile/TV App . Another popular channel that you may have picked up on is their affiliate partners .

You’ve perhaps signed up for a mobile, TV, and internet package where the provider offers Netflix as an extra to sweeten the deal, so to speak.

That would be an example of an affiliate partnership between Netflix and mobile service providers.

I doubt many consumers have had direct contact with Netflix unless it’s to resolve a subscription issue or general query. It’s very much a self-automated service – you download the app, select the program you wish to watch, and hit play.

Very simple, very effective.

Again, this doesn’t need much embellishment. Netflix generates money from the different tiers and packages put together in their subscription services.

This varies depending on the region to account for local markets, but on the whole, it’s sold at a low price point.

Originally, Netflix’s Key Resources would have been their unrivaled DVD collection combined with a cost-effective mail-order system.

Nowadays it’s undoubtedly the rights to stream online video content. Netflix has brokered deals with some of the biggest production studios worldwide.

Combined with their huge library of in-house productions , it’s more than enough to encourage customers to renew their subscriptions.

To help sustain interest in their product, Netflix understands they need to serve-up relevant content for each sub-sector of their mass audience. Therefore their machine learning algorithm selects content for consumers based on streaming habits (what they watched, at what time, etc,.) to personalize the customer experience.

This explains why over 80% of all content streamed on Netflix was cherry-picked by this algorithm, making it a Key Resource for their business model.

Also, Netflix accounts for a whopping 12.6% of global bandwidth usage . The literal capacity to stream their services must be met meaning bandwidth must also be included here.

Content procurement is arguably their biggest Key Activity. They need to find people to produce and deliver their original content, including actors, studios, writers, etc. as well as secure the licensing and streaming rights from 3rd party producers such as Sony, Warner Bros, and Disney.

Finally, they need a fast, easy-to-use application to host their online streaming service. This needs to be available for both TV and mobile devices if they are to deliver their “on-demand” value proposition.

K ey Partners

Seeing as Netflix’s entire business model is largely based around streaming 3rd party content, key partnerships need to be built with production studios . No content, no Netflix!

Also, as we touched upon earlier Netflix is one of the largest consumers of bandwidth worldwide. If the speed and delivery of their streaming service are to be continued then deals will also need to be made with internet service providers (ISPs).

Netflix’s biggest expenditures come from both their in-house content procurement and 3rd party licensing agreements . The high-quality standard of video streamed on Netflix is only possible due to the speed and performance of its online platform and application , which has additional costs of staff, software, etc.

To show you just how flexible the business model canvas can be, I wanted to throw in a slightly leftfield example. Vintae is a Spanish wine producer who, after a detailed analysis of the business model canvas, was able to innovate and disrupt one of the world’s most competitive industries.

As some of you may know, the wine industry is extremely competitive. It’s also steeped in history and tradition , making it very challenging for newcomers to grab market share, let alone think about year-on-year growth and revenue.

However, CEO “Richi” Arambarri looked at the traditional “ bodega ” business model and saw a chink in its armor.

A “small” innovation in the business canvas model helped them to become one of the region’s most important winery groups, with over 10 installations and a presence across all regional denominations (Rioja, Priorat, Rias Baixas, etc.) with year on year growth of 30% – practically unheard of in such a competitive industry.

So how did Vintae analyze the business model canvas to find a niche in their market?

To answer that question, we must first look at the traditional winery business model .

Traditional Winery Business Model with its 9 developed points

As you can see, the wine industry has historically been patrimonial. Vineyards and estates are passed down through generations with the winery responsible for all phases of production, clarification, and distribution.

The traditional winery business canvas model suggests you must be the owner of the winery/vineyard where the wine is “manufactured”, meaning physical assets are a key resource of the business model.

So, if you wanted to start producing a Rioja, for example, you’d have to set up your vineyard in the region.

This is monumentally expensive as you need to:

  • Purchase the land
  • Plant a vineyard
  • Absorb set-up and installation costs
  • Deal with maintenance costs

It’s here where Vintae saw their opportunity.

What if we move vineyard ownership across the business model canvas from key resources to key partners ?

By leasing the equipment and space of large wineries (of which there was plenty), they could still produce their wine but reduce the cost and exposure associated with land purchase, crushing equipment, huge storage tanks, vineyard maintenance, and their bottling line.

This enabled them to focus on their sales, marketing, and distribution channels to create a better brand experience for their customers.

Also, it afforded them more flexibility when creating new wines as they were no longer confined to the limitations of grapes grown on their vineyard.

The lightness of this new business model eliminates maintenance overheads, channels energy into personalizing the customer experience, and allows for unprecedented levels of growth in one of the world’s most competitive industries.

Vinate business model

Business Model Canvas Software

Although I did mention starting with a large whiteboard, sticky notes, and a pack of colorful sharpies there are several options in which you can digitize the business canvas model production process.

While I still believe the aforementioned process is extremely valuable (it gets your entire team’s input in a single hour-long session) you may decide it more viable for each member of management to pool their ideas digitally before sharing with the rest of the group.

If that’s the case, then take a look at some of the following software tools for creating your business model canvas.

Strategyzer

Created by the founders of the business model canvas Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur , Strategyzer offers a range of business model canvas templates for you to get started with.

If you opt for the paid model (there is a 30-day free trial period) they offer a series of various classes that teach you how to build and test different value propositions and business models.

A real-time built-in cost estimator analyzes the financial viability of some of your business ideas, identifying alternative areas you may wish to explore with your model.

All-in-all, it’s a great resource to play around with and test some of your business ideas, with the option to dive into further detail if you see fit.

Canvanizer is a free, easy-to-use web tool that allows you to share links between team members who are brainstorming ideas for a business model canvas, but working remotely.

Like Strategyzer, there are several business model canvas templates provided to help you get started with your analysis. The strength of this platform is its accessibility. Much like a Google Doc., several people can brainstorm on the same canvas simultaneously with changes being synchronized automatically.

Business Model Canvas Tool

A ThePowerMBA alumni, impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of the tool, went ahead and created the free application Business Model Canvas Tool .

It’s an incredibly intuitive, and easy-to-use tool that allows you to create templates simply by clicking the + button in each building block.

Each business model canvas created can be downloaded and shared as a pdf. with the rest of the team.

Would You Like to Learn More about Business Models?

If, after going through our 9-step guide on how to use the Business Model Canvas you’d like to learn more about different business model analysis tools , take a look at our alternative MBA business program .

As you’ll see, the course gives students a 360-degree view of business and management practices – such as engines of growth, segmentation and targeting, and value propositions.

I highly recommend you go check it out.

Regardless, I’d love to hear what you thought about this guide. Was it helpful? Would you like to see additional business cases analyzed from your industry?

Let us know in the comments below.

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16 Comments

Ayeah Goodlove

Perfect thought

kourosh abdollahzadeh

I am a DBA student. I have used your site a lot. Thank you for the information

KJ Hwang

Well defined steps, Thanks for good contents.

Reza Ebadi

Dear Sir many thanks for you guideline. it was very effective for me. Thanks a Million

Debashis Rout

Well explained with practical business case

Allen

Wow, this article was incredibly helpful! I’ve heard about the Business Model Canvas before, but I wasn’t sure exactly how it worked or how to use it for my own business.

NIMAKO JAMES

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Opoku Samuel

you’ve done a great job. keep it up

Claudia Roca

This is a very insightful content with a step-by-step practical approach of how to write a BMC and what exactly it should contain.

My team and I literally used your guide to write a BMC for a project we were working on, and in just about an hour we were done.

Thank you so much for this content, it was really helpful.

Franco

Thank you very much Collins and we are glad you are using this tool.

Jude

Insightful! Gave me the clarity I needed for my upcoming business. Thank you so much.

Praveen

Thank you very much for the business model example of ZARA. It was very very informative

Efi

This is a great explanation, the best i’ve seen. Thanks

Thank you very much for reading and sharing your comments

Tatyasaheb Phadtare

Really great tool for business and whom want to enter,. Thanks

The Business Model Canvas - A Useful Tool

By: Damon Phillips, Sandra Navalli

This case lays out the steps for creating a Business Model Canvas (BMC)-a comprehensive and intuitive framework intended to facilitate description and discussion of a new venture idea. Focusing on…

  • Length: 18 page(s)
  • Publication Date: Nov 5, 2019
  • Discipline: Entrepreneurship
  • Product #: CU351-PDF-ENG

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This case lays out the steps for creating a Business Model Canvas (BMC)-a comprehensive and intuitive framework intended to facilitate description and discussion of a new venture idea. Focusing on both the efficiency and value generating aspects of a new business, the model directs the founding team members to consider key aspects of a core model, including the company's value proposition, customer relationships, revenue streams, cost structure, and competitive environment. A variation on the model for nonprofit organizations, a Social Impact BMC, is also presented, adding additional items such as impact metrics. The case includes several real world business examples and asks students to prepare a traditional BMC for the for-profit company (Nespresso) and a Social Impact BMC for the social impact example (ConBody) using the tools outlined in the case.

Learning Objectives

Students will answer the question: How should a business model be developed and communicated to best support the launch of a new venture?

Nov 5, 2019

Discipline:

Entrepreneurship

Industries:

Social advocacy organizations

Columbia Business School

CU351-PDF-ENG

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  1. The Business Model Canvas by 50MINUTES

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  2. How To Use The Business Model Canvas

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  3. Business Model Canvas: The Definitive Guide and Examples

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  4. The Business Model Canvas Series

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  5. Le Business Model Canvas : l’outil ultime pour entreprendre

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COMMENTS

  1. Business Model Canvas

    The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. This method from the bestselling management book Business Model Generation is applied in leading organizations and start-ups worldwide.

  2. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers

    Together with Alex Osterwalder, he invented the Business Model Canvas and co-authored the international bestselling books "Business Model Generation" and "Value Proposition Design". Yves and Alex are ranked No. 4 among the "Thinkers50's Most Influential Management Thinkers" in the world and hold the Thinkers50 Strategy Award.

  3. The Business Model Canvas: Let your business thrive with this simple

    In 50 minutes you will be able to: •Identify the nine factors affected by the Business Model Canvas and why they are important •Analyse concrete applications of the Business Model Canvas with real-life case studies •Learn more about the limits and criticism of the tool, so that you can apply the BMC effectively and use it alongside other ...

  4. Alex Osterwalder

    Join the business consulting legend Alex who popularized the 1-page business model canvas during an interview with Jason Marc Campbell where we will d... 54 min. 54 min. Play. Podcast • Thinkers & Ideas. ... My first book, Business Model Generation (2009), sold millions in almost 40 languages. Since then I led or participated in 4 more books ...

  5. Business Model Canvas: The Definitive Guide and Examples

    Download a PDF Business Model Canvas template, and take several colored markers, sticky notes, and anything else you may need. For example, if you are brainstorming in a big team, a board is a must for enhanced convenience. Online. Choose the platform where you will work with a template. It can be Google Docs, Omnigraffle, or the Stratygizer ...

  6. BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS : Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur : Free

    Books. An illustration of two cells of a film strip. Video. An illustration of an audio speaker. Audio An illustration of a 3.5" floppy disk. ... BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur. Topics management Collection opensource Language English. You're holding a handbook for visionaries, game changers,

  7. Business Model Canvas: Explained with Examples

    Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create a business canvas model. Step 1: Gather your team and the required material Bring a team or a group of people from your company together to collaborate. It is better to bring in a diverse group to cover all aspects.

  8. Business Model Canvas: A 9-Step Guide to Analzye Any Business

    Created by Swiss entrepreneur and Strategyzer co-founder, Alexander Osterwalder, the Business Model Canvas is a visual representation of the 9 key building blocks that form the foundations of every successful business. It's a blueprint to help entrepreneurs invent, design, and build models with a more systematic approach.

  9. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder

    In business model canvas the intuitive or value-side is presented by: + customer segments, + customer relationships, + channels, and + revenue streams. The rationale or cost-side of canvas includes: +key activities, + key resources, key partners, and cost structure. ... The book "Business Model Generation" can easily be called a "bible", a real ...

  10. Business Model Canvas

    The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management template used for developing new business models and documenting existing ones. It offers a visual chart with elements describing a firm's or product's value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances, assisting businesses to align their activities by illustrating potential trade-offs.. The nine "building blocks" of the business ...

  11. Business Model Generation

    Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow's enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don't yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.. Co-created by 470 "Business Model Canvas ...

  12. Business Model Canvas Explained: Definition and Components

    The Business Model Canvas consists of nine building blocks, each represented by a rectangle. 1. Key partners: A business's key partnerships include stakeholders, joint ventures, and strategic alliances that will help the business carry out its objectives. This is also the place to consider suppliers.

  13. How To Use Business Model Canvas (With Template and Examples)

    A well-developed business model canvas will help streamline planning, development, and execution across your business. It should align everyone's objectives and eliminate inconsistencies between the various people who contribute to your business objectives. Use Xtensio's free template to create your own without needing a professional designer!

  14. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers

    Business Model Generation practices what it preaches. Coauthored by 470 Business Model Canvas practitioners from forty-five countries, the book was financed and produced independently of the traditional publishing industry. It features a tightly integrated, visual, lie-flat design that enables immediate hands-on use. DESIGNED FOR DOERS

  15. The Business Model Canvas

    This case lays out the steps for creating a Business Model Canvas (BMC)-a comprehensive and intuitive framework intended to facilitate description and discussion of a new venture idea. Focusing on both the efficiency and value generating aspects of a new business, the model directs the founding team members to consider key aspects of a core model, including the company's value proposition ...

  16. Business Model Generation: the book

    The design of the business model on the canvas involves 5 phases: Team mobilization: gather your staff and explain the need for a new business model.; Guidance and motivation of the team: make everyone involved seek information and learn everything they need about customers, technology, and the market. Prototyping and experimentation: ask the team to develop several prototypes and test them ...

  17. Make a Business Model Canvas (How-tos, Examples, Tips)

    A business model canvas is a strategic management tool that helps companies visualize new and existing business models they develop. This one-page template allows you to examine the external and internal factors that could make or break your business, such as the infrastructure running your business, what value you're offering, the customers you serve, and the finances that keep your business ...

  18. Create a Business Model Canvas Online

    Build a business model canvas. Fill out each component of the business model canvas template with information on your customers, partners, key activities, value propositions, costs, and revenue streams. Easily add new text boxes or sticky notes to construct and align your business concept with your team. Personalize your business model canvas.

  19. The Business Model Canvas: Let your business thrive with this simple

    In 50 minutes you will be able to: •Identify the nine factors affected by the Business Model Canvas and why they are important •Analyse concrete applications of the Business Model Canvas with real-life case studies •Learn more about the limits and criticism of the tool, so that you can apply the BMC effectively and use it alongside other ...

  20. Moscow International Business Centre

    Amazon.com: Moscow International Business Centre - Gallery Wrapped Canvas - Museum Quality- Size: 4ft - 48" x 12" by Artsy Canvas: Prints: Posters & Prints

  21. Contacts, work schedule

    Model Additions; Materials for dioramas; Cases & Stands; Models for assembly without glue; ... Guest book; Contacts, work schedule; Phone numbers: +7 (800) 333-04-41 ... We are located in the business center "Delta", the landmark store "Perekrestok" is the ground floor. ...

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    Amazon.com: Wexford Home Vintage Moscow City Map Gray Canvas Art, 24" x 24": Posters & Prints. Skip to main content.us. Delivering to Lebanon 66952 Update location Home & Kitchen. Select the department you want to search in. Search Amazon. EN. Hello, sign in ...