Business Model Canvas, Explained

If you’ve ever attended one of our Start Smart classes, you’re probably familiar with the Business Model Canvas. It’s a tool that will help you thoughtfully plan out the next steps in your journey as an entrepreneur. At its core, this strategy is used to develop a new business model or revise an existing one. If you’re new to the scene and have a great business idea but you’re unsure of what to do next, developing a strong business model canvas is a solid first step in the right direction.

What is a Business Model Canvas?

Developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, it’s a graphic representation of important variables that show the value of an organization, business, or potential business. It can be used to develop a new business or to help staff analyze the success and viability of a business that’s been in operation for years. Download a copy of the Business Model Canvas template here.

The Building Blocks of an Organization

The founders of this helpful tool outlined nine categories for the canvas including:

Key partners

Identifying buyer-supply relationships and complementary business alliances.

Key activities

A working knowledge of the core activities of a company or business.

Key resources

The means a company needs to perform (physical, intellectual, finance, and human resources).

Value propositions

The core statement, and the collection of products or services a business offers to meet the needs of its customers.

Customer relationships

Defining a target audience, customer base, and their unique needs/pain points.


How a business organizes communications, distribution, and sales channels. Includes customer service, delivery, awareness, satisfaction, and after sales.

Customer segments

Identifying the needs and requirements for separate customer groups and differentiating products/services.

Cost structure

Identifying the minimum turnover needed to make a profit including economies of scale, constant and variable costs, and profit advantages.

Revenue streams

A clearly defined revenue model for the organization.


Visualizing how all these integral categories work together is a very important part of the development process, and that’s why the template is often displayed on a large surface, so groups can jointly sketch, notate, and brainstorm together. It’s a hands-on tool that fosters understanding, discussion, creativity, and active analysis.


The time participants spend at Start Smart learning, engaging in, and reflecting upon this process with other like-minded individuals is incredibly valuable. The instructors at GROW not only dive into the essential building blocks of the program, but also describe its relationship to your formal business plan, and its effectiveness throughout the life of your business – one truly informs the other.


Begin your relationship with GROW by attending an Intro to GROW session where you can gain a more complete understanding of all the services we offer. Then, register for our upcoming Start Smart class and leave with the skills and knowledge you need to grow your business.


Start Smart classes are offered monthly from 6-9pm. Explore our events calendar to sign up for the next class today!