18 minutesBy Canva Team

Making a business model canvas: How-tos, templates, and tips

Discover how to make your business idea more competitive and viable with a solid business model. Explore free templates, best practices, and tips to create a business model canvas online from Canva.
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What is a business model canvas?

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 afloat and thriving.

It’s a clean, sleek, and no-fuss diagram. All you need is the nine building blocks of your business model and you’re great to go. Tools like Canva(opens in a new tab or window) can get you started with a free business model canvas template and get you and your team into a brainstorming session.

Example of a business model canvas you can create with Canva Whiteboards.

Example of a business model canvas you can create with Canva Whiteboards.

Business ideas come and go, whether for emerging businesses or established enterprises. But the ideas that stay are the ones with a solid business model to back them up. Having a business model canvas gives you and your company a better view of the pieces that bring value to your business.

It sets you up for success by allowing you to strategize, plan, and test moving parts of how you operate and gain as a company, leverage trade-offs, and bank on areas of opportunity.

Put your new or existing business idea to the test by creating a business model canvas. See how it’ll fare in a competitive market landscape and shape your business model into one that will thrive.

What is a business model?

A business model outlines how you intend to create value or make a profit out of your product and services. When building your business model, you need to:

  • Define your product or service
  • Identify strategies to promote your product or service
  • Anticipate the costs involved in running the business
  • Highlight how the business will generate revenue

You might confuse a business model with your other cadences while running your company, but that shouldn’t be the case. In fact, creating a business model is tied up with some of these specific documents, and having a business model canvas ready can be a perfect attachment to seal the deal. Remember:

  • A business model isn't your business plan. You might be asking what the difference is between a business model and a business plan. It’s all in the details, such as how business plans go deep into your goals and strategies, operational actions, and financial performances. Your business model can be incorporated into your business plan so that it can explain how your company intends to implement and execute your model.
  • It’s also different from a business proposal. Creating a business proposal means creating an offer or proposition for your product or services or a part of your company. A business model can help you demonstrate how viable your business is and eventually attract potential investors.

Types of business models

As industries welcome diverse ways of doing business brought by an increasingly accessible world, we see more companies tap different business models for different products and services. That can mean more chances at success, but can also signify a more competitive market where having a business idea alone isn’t enough. One must need a sustainable and viable business model that works and thrives.

Some of the most common business models around us nowadays include:

  • Retailers such as supermarkets, wholesale stores, etc.
  • Manufacturers like car companies, garment factories, etc.
  • Fee-for-service such as specialized firms and companies for law, accounting, cleaning, leisure, etc.
  • Subscriptions like streaming services, design apps, etc.
  • Freemium which offers basic features for free and has a premium offers if users would like to unlock more exclusive features

Other types may include e-commerce, affiliates, franchising, brokerage, marketplace, bundling, and more.

It’s not one-size-fits-all
With the evolution of doing business, some companies may employ different business models at the same time. For example, Canva is a subscription-based design app that also offers freemium.

Business model canvas explained

Designing a business model canvas (or BMC) can be easy and straightforward, especially with a standard template already widely available online. But, the core of crafting a business model canvas lies in the content.

What you’ll need is a business idea and model that you can dissect and analyze in the canvas. As you strategically fill out each segment of your BMC template, you must be able to unfold how your business will operate, create value, and become viable in an ever-changing market.

Osterwalder & Pigneur’s business model canvas

Throughout this resource, we’ll deep dive into Osterwalder & Pigneur’s business model canvas. This commonly used type of business model canvas was introduced by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in 2005. As we know it, this strategic framework is designed to visually outline nine building blocks of your business model. It takes into account four major categories:

  • Value proposition
  • Customers
  • Infrastructure
  • Finances
A traditional business model canvas.

A traditional business model canvas.

Other types of business model canvas

Staehler’s business model canvas

This earliest version of a business model canvas was introduced by Peter Staehler. Compared to Osterwalder’s later model canvas, Staehler’s focus is on the value a business can offer and how it delivers that value to its target customers.

You would notice that there are similarities with the now traditional business model canvas, such as its keen eye for value proposition, customers, and finances. However, some notable distinctions include

  • Value architecture that even highlights the value chain and core capabilities needed to deliver a product or service
  • Team and values that outline the teams involved and their competencies and the values they live up to in every customer interaction

Maurya’s lean canvas

This is an adaptation of Osterwalder and Pigneur’s business model canvas, introduced by Ash Maurya in 2010. The aim is to specifically cater to startups and innovative entrepreneurs. Its key highlight is what problem in the market you’re trying to solve with your unique value proposition.

Limitations of a business model canvas

Like any strategic framework tool out there, a business model canvas isn’t the be-all and end-all of your business planning. Take note of these limitations so you can work your way around maximizing the potential of your business model canvas.

  • Too simple: Though its simplicity provides ease of use for conceptualizing and testing models, it’s often criticized for missing out on the underlying specifics within each building block. Consider digging deep into each segment when filling out your BMC template.
  • Limited outlook: The traditional business model canvas is limited to nine building blocks only and often too profit-focused. It fails to capture how the business contributes and affects other external factors, such as the ecosystem and market landscape.
  • Missing pieces: There wouldn’t be a limited perspective if your business model outlines other factors like your competitors, stakeholders, and measurements of success.

What is the purpose of a business model canvas?

A business model canvas might look easy-peasy on the outside. Sure, it’s a simple table to fill out with some business terms and hacks. But if you’re really committed to realizing the value of your business, this one-page document is no one-hit-wonder. Imagine how much clarity and ease it can bring into your company, plus a whole lot more. Consider making a business model canvas when you are:

Organize your blocks by color and separate texts in boxes to maximize the efficiency of your business model canvas.

Organize your blocks by color and separate texts in boxes to maximize the efficiency of your business model canvas.

Planning and organizing a business

It’s imperative for businesses to nurture their business ideas with competitive and viable business models to back them up. It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup in the early stages of running a company or an established enterprise with a variety of products and services. A business model canvas will help you structure your business for success and ensure that every piece of your business model functions and delivers as expected.

Building a strategy

Having a business model canvas puts everything into perspective. You are able to look closer into each building block of your business model and assess its potential strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can create strategies on how to maximize the opportunities and mitigate the threats, whether they be internal or external.

Identifying areas for improvement

Business models tend to fail when they aren’t able to keep up with the times. Your business model canvas can unblock you on so many levels, such as spotting expenses, developing a better revenue strategy, ensuring your infrastructure runs smoothly, and marketing to the right customers. Ask yourself if what you’ve added to your business model canvas is scalable, financially viable, and competitive, so you can assess what’s been written and deduce an appropriate way to improve your model.

Launching a new product or service

Thinking about the appropriate business model should go hand-in-hand with conceptualizing and planning for a product or service. As early as its ideation, create a business model canvas to assess its potential business model and test it out with rigid scenarios based on real-world data, trends, and factors. This will help you anticipate potential threats that you need to ward off and harness opportunities to your new product’s advantage.

Establishing a single vision

Your business model canvas can communicate a common vision to your teams on how to run the business. This simple canvas is easy to understand and mostly captures the building blocks of your business model. It’s definitely a good exercise for your team to review your value proposition as a company, contextualize every financial decision, and consider internal and external factors in building strategies to attract, grow, and retain customers.

What to include in a business model canvas?

Building your business model comes with a lot of factors to consider. The beauty of making a business model canvas is that you get to visualize them on one page, organize the moving pieces in a bird’s eye view, and strategize with the other factors in mind. The commonly used Osterwalder and Pigneur business model canvas has nine building blocks of a business model to consider inside its BMC template.

Example of Osterwalder and Pigneur’s business model canvas with nine building blocks.

Example of Osterwalder and Pigneur’s business model canvas with nine building blocks.

Your canvas can be categorized into two. But keep in mind that they all meet in the middle: your value proposition. On the right, you have all external factors relating to customers. The left side, meanwhile, deals with internal factors detailing your key infrastructures to operate. Money matters such as your revenue stream and cost structure inform each side of the canvas respectively.

How to create a business model canvas

The key to having a comprehensive business model canvas is having the right information and accurate data to back you up when building your business model. Designing one will be a breeze using one-page templates available for you to customize. You can even bring in your team to collaborate in real-time with online whiteboard tools like Canva. Here are seven steps to make the most out of your business model canvas mapping with your team.

How to create a business model canvas

Mind map
Bring clarity to your business idea with mind mapping. Use a problem or need you’re solving as the central topic. Branch out with ideas on structure, elements, potential customers, etc.

Get inspired with business model canvas templates

See all the building blocks of your business in one visual online whiteboard and easily strategize your next steps. Fill out the external and internal factors that affect your business model in a professionally designed template you can customize with your team. Canva’s free business model canvas templates are ready to use for your next business planning.

You can personalize your BMC template easily or match it with your company’s branding. There are lots of visual elements you can play around with, from fonts and colors to graphics. Choose from the business model canvas examples below to start your whiteboard design.

All you need in a business model canvas maker

Whether you are developing a new business idea or testing out an existing business model, easily capture every factor or element that makes up your business model canvas. Simply bring your team in a Canva Whiteboards design and start churning out powerful and value-adding ideas in its infinite canvas and collaborative editor. Find different graphic elements, easy-to-use tools, and magical features from our library for your editable business model canvas.

  • Unlimited space for unlimited ideas

    Unlimited space for unlimited ideas

    With a free infinite canvas and unlimited number of whiteboards, fully develop your ideas and still have room.

  • Your ideas visualized

    Your ideas visualized

    Build stunning tables and graphs with automatic flowcharts, or sketch them to life with Draw.

  • All your work, in one place

    All your work, in one place

    From plan to execution, it’s all here. Take notes, brainstorm, collaborate, and more on the same whiteboard.

  • Workshop ideas to perfection

    Workshop ideas to perfection

    With your team, develop ideas through comments and stickies, and keep sync sessions on track with a timer.

  • Share your work effortlessly

    Share your work effortlessly

    Share a link to your doc and control your team's access. Present directly from the editor with Presenter view.

  • Expand your Presentation to a Whiteboard

    Expand your Presentation to a Whiteboard

    With just a single click, expand your presentation slides into infinite, collaborative whiteboards.

Business model canvas best practices

Here are four best practices that could put your business model canvas mapping on the right track.

Test your business model canvas rigorously

Treat your business model canvas as a quick prototype for your business ideas. Your goal is to end up with a business model that’s competitive in the market, scalable, valuable, and has a sturdy infrastructure to run its operations. That means you need to put your business model canvas to the test.

For startups in the ideation phase, testing can be in the form of weighing things out through a series of questions and scenarios. Put your model in situations that could challenge its viability and competitiveness in the market, industry, and macroeconomic environment.

Scenario building can also work for established businesses wanting to test their business model. They might also have the luxury of trial-and-error, conducting experiments in the real world, and gauging if a business model thrives through actual statistics, data, and information.

The beauty of your business model canvas template is that, through all these tests, it’s simple and easy to recreate. Its no-fuss design enables you to repurpose it, move things around, tweak some information on each building block, and have it ready for your next test.

Spot and cultivate areas of opportunity

Don’t miss out on areas of opportunity whether your current business model survives or flunks the test. There’s always room for learning, and your business model canvas can definitely help you in that cause. You just have to keep an open mind when reviewing each segment of your BMC template.

Scrutinize whether you need to rethink and reassess certain building blocks of your business model. Keep an eye on outside factors that can potentially improve your model or steer it in another direction. Watch out for market and industry forces and trends, and see if there are ways that your business model can adapt to them. Anticipate the impact of macroeconomic factors and plan how your model can take advantage of the positives and minimize the negative effects.

On Canva, share your BMC via email or sharing a link. Control who can view and edit your work.

On Canva, share your BMC via email or sharing a link. Control who can view and edit your work.

Collaboration is key

There are a lot of moving parts in your business model. Ideally, there are teams behind these pieces that are responsible for the upkeep and the overall success of each segment.

Discuss your financial standing, budgets, and costs with your finance team and accountants. Craft your value proposition with your brand, marketing, product, and sales teams who are, one way or another, involved in the targeting of customers, fostering relationships with them, and maintaining distribution and information channels.

If you’re a startup or a hopeful entrepreneur, chances are you’re in a one-man team. Don’t be discouraged by this. There are still ways for you to take advantage of collaboration. Build your network by engaging with key industry players and learn their business processes. See what you can adopt from their failures and successes. You can also tap into knowledge holders so they can advise you better on the latest market and industry trends and brief you on the macroeconomic perspective.

Canva for Teams
It’s easy to keep your team in the loop. Create teams in Canva and share your business model canvas designs through team folders in Canva. See and organize your team designs in one space.

Update your business model canvas

Do not fall in love with your first business model canvas or business idea, for that matter. A business model canvas, like other business cadences, is a living document. It evolves as the market evolves. It also develops as you gain more insight into the viability of your business idea.

As you test your business model, it's inevitable that you go back to the drawing board, reorganize and rethink each segment in your business model canvas template, and develop a new business model to test. Succumb to this routine until you eventually land on a competitive business model you can execute.

Keep your whiteboard updated
Canva Whiteboards automatically saves changes in your business model canvas in the cloud so you can edit your design anytime, anywhere.

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Create viable business ideas with a business model canvas

Harness the full potential of your business ideas by creating equally competitive business models. Strategize with your team in Canva Whiteboards and customize free business model canvas templates.
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