Don’t Care Too Much About Boxes

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We should not care too much about boxes.

When it comes to business modeling tools such as the Business Model Canvas and the Lean Canvas, people sometimes end up in endless discussions about terminology.

  • What is the difference between Unique Value Proposition and Solution?
  • What is the difference between Channels and Key Partners?
  • And why is there a Revenue Streams box but no Funding?

The exact definitions of business model areas are an interesting topic to discuss over a cup of coffee or a beer. But in practice, any model of the world is fine as long as it helps you to sense and respond. The more pressing matter is: what have you seen and how will you act?


“Any model of the world is fine as long as it helps you to sense and respond.”


For a startup team, deciding what to do next is more important than agreeing on dictionary entries. And what to do next usually means:

  • Pick an area where there are high-risk assumptions;
  • Create lean experiments to validate those assumptions;
  • Run the tests to increase understanding;
  • Decide how to respond and what to do next.

By running experiments and accumulating learning, you steadily grow your business model as if it is a quilt of colorful patches.


Business Quilt


The Business Model Canvas, the Lean Canvas, and many popular pitch deck examples all suggest business model areas where you can run your lean experiments. All of them are good starting points, and none of them are complete. I use my own Business Quilt as a mashup of the most popular topics. It is also incomplete, but maybe less so than the others.

The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur is to realize that boxes are just boxes. They are a way of making a complex environment a bit easier to understand. Your team can work on any box, move to any other box, and you can even reorder and redefine the boxes if you prefer. (I am not the only one to have done that.)

As you go, keep running lean experiments in each of your business quilt boxes to sense what’s going on in the world. It is the only way to know how to respond. If you do this well, you may end up with a fully validated business that is ready to scale up.


Business Quilt Template

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