Business Model Canvas Cheat Sheet: A Quick Guide to Remember

Business model canvas
  • What value does your business provide and how does it benefit customers?
  • How you can monetize this value?
  • How can this business remain sustainable?

Business Model Canvas (BMC) will give you a widely accepted framework to visualize the answers to the fundamental questions mentioned above. 

The Business Model Canvas, popularized by Alexander Osterwalder’s book “Business Model Generation” is a powerful tool for designing, analyzing, and optimizing business models. 

Before starting to create a Business Model Canvas you need to understand the concept and its elements. In this article, we provided comprehensive guidelines about the definitions of BMC and its 9 elements.

What is a Business Model Canvas?

The Business Model Canvas is a visual framework that represents the nine essential building blocks of a business model. It provides a holistic view of how a company creates, delivers, and captures value in a structured and easily understandable manner.

Imagine building a puzzle, where each piece represents a crucial aspect of your business. As you carefully place each piece, a comprehensive picture emerges, revealing the foundation of your success.

This is precisely what the Business Model Canvas offers – a framework that brings together the nine essential elements that shape your business model.

a Business model canvas template that shows every segments of it.

What are the 9 elements of a business model canvas?

The Business Model Canvas, a widely acclaimed framework developed by Alexander Osterwalder, provides a comprehensive and structured approach to dissecting and analyzing a business model.

At the heart of this framework lie the 9 key elements that form the building blocks of any business model. These elements serve as the backbone of strategic planning, enabling entrepreneurs and business professionals to examine their ventures holistically and make informed decisions.

As you can see in our business model canvas template, the 9 elements are:

  • Customer segments
  • Value proposition
  • Customer relationships
  • Channels
  • Key resources
  • Key partners
  • Key activities
  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure

Pro Tip: While creating a business model canvas, make sure to take a look at each of these elements. It will help you to come up with more accurate answers.

Customer segments of business model canvas

“Customer segments” is one of the major components of Business Model Canvas, which focuses on identifying and understanding the different groups of customers that a business serves or intends to serve. It is usually a good point to start creating your BMC.

A customer segment refers to a specific group of individuals or organizations with similar needs, characteristics, behaviors, or preferences.

By dividing the broader market into distinct customer segments, businesses can tailor their products, services, and marketing efforts to better meet the unique requirements of each segment. This customer-centric approach allows businesses to provide targeted solutions and enhance customer satisfaction.

When analyzing the “Customer segments” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is essential to consider the following factors:

  1. Demographics: Assessing demographic characteristics such as age, gender, income, education level, or geographic location can help identify different customer segments. For example, a company targeting young professionals in urban areas would have a different customer segment than one targeting retirees in rural areas.
  1. Psychographics: Understanding the psychographic traits, values, interests, and lifestyles of customers can provide insights into their motivations and preferences. Psychographic segmentation allows businesses to cater to specific customer segments based on their shared attitudes and behaviors.
  1. Needs and Preferences: Analyzing customer needs, pain points, and preferences is crucial for developing products or services that align with specific customer segments. By understanding their desired outcomes and addressing their unique challenges, businesses can create a compelling value proposition for each segment.
  1. Behavior Patterns: Examining customer behaviors, such as purchasing habits, usage patterns, or decision-making processes, can help identify distinct customer segments. This understanding allows businesses to design appropriate marketing strategies and customer experiences.
  1. Size and Growth Potential: Assessing the size and growth potential of different customer segments helps prioritize target markets and allocate resources effectively. It allows businesses to focus on segments that offer the most significant revenue opportunities and growth potential.

Pro Tip: After segmentation, you can go one step further and create the “personas” of your target market. Instead of mentioning a whole segment and trying to provide value to them, you can be more realistic and specific using a “persona” in your BMC.
You can learn more about it in the “How to Create an Accurate Buyer Persona” article.

Value proposition of business model canvas

The “Value proposition” is a crucial element of the Business Model Canvas that focuses on defining the unique value or benefit that a business offers to its customers. It represents the reason why customers should choose a particular product or service over alternatives available in the market.

A strong value proposition communicates the distinct advantages, solutions, or outcomes that customers can expect from engaging with a business. It addresses customer needs, pain points, and desires, demonstrating how the product or service solves a problem or fulfills a specific requirement better than competitors.

When analyzing the “Value proposition” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  1. Customer Benefits: Identify and articulate the specific benefits or advantages that customers will experience by using the product or service. This could include cost savings, time efficiency, improved performance, convenience, enhanced quality, or unique features.
  1. Differentiation: Highlight how the value proposition sets the business apart from competitors. Determine the unique selling points or attributes that make the product or service distinct and more appealing to customers.
  1. Target Customer Fit: Ensure that the value proposition aligns with the needs, preferences, and expectations of the target customer segments identified in the canvas. Tailor the value proposition to resonate with the specific desires and pain points of those customers.
  1. Clear Communication: Craft a clear and compelling message that effectively communicates the value proposition to customers. Use concise language and emphasize the most impactful benefits to grab customers’ attention and generate interest.
  1. Continuous Improvement: Regularly assess and refine the value proposition to stay relevant and competitive in the market. Gather customer feedback, monitor market trends, and make adjustments to enhance the value proposition over time.

Customer relationships of business model canvas

The “Customer relationships” element in the Business Model Canvas focuses on how a business builds and maintains relationships with its customers throughout their journey. 

It encompasses the strategies and approaches employed to interact with customers, understand their needs, and foster long-term engagement and loyalty.

Developing strong customer relationships is crucial for businesses as it enables them to understand customer preferences, deliver personalized experiences, and create customer loyalty. 

By effectively managing customer relationships, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, drive repeat purchases, and generate positive word-of-mouth referrals.

When analyzing the “Customer relationships” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  1. Relationship Types: Identify the different types of relationships your business establishes with customers. This could range from personal, one-on-one interactions to self-service models or automated digital interactions.
    Examples include personal assistance, dedicated account management, online communities, or customer self-service platforms.
  2. Customer Engagement: Determine how your business engages and interacts with customers at various touchpoints, including pre-purchase, during the purchase process, and post-purchase. Consider the use of channels such as in-person interactions, websites, social media, email, or customer service hotlines.
  3. Customer Understanding: Understand the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your customers. Use tools such as customer surveys, market research, and data analytics to gain insights and tailor your interactions to meet their specific requirements.
  4. Customer Support: Establish mechanisms to provide support and address customer inquiries, concerns, or issues. This can include a help desk, customer service representatives, online chat support, or knowledge bases.
  5. Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Create channels for gathering customer feedback and actively listen to their opinions and suggestions. Use this feedback to continuously improve your products, services, and customer experiences.
  6. Customer Loyalty and Retention: Implement strategies to build customer loyalty and encourage repeat business. This can involve loyalty programs, personalized offers, exclusive discounts, or special events for loyal customers.

Channels of business model canvas

The “Channels” element in the Business Model Canvas refers to the various methods or channels through which a business communicates with and delivers value to its customer segments. 

It encompasses the distribution channels, communication channels, and touchpoints that connect the business with its customers.

The selection and management of channels are crucial for effectively reaching and engaging customers, delivering products or services, and creating a seamless customer experience. Businesses need to carefully consider which channels are most suitable for their target customers and align with their value proposition.

When analyzing the “Channels” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  1. Distribution Channels: Identify the channels through which products or services are delivered to customers. This could include physical stores, e-commerce platforms, direct sales, wholesalers, distributors, or partnerships with other businesses.
  1. Communication Channels: Determine the channels used to communicate with customers and promote the business’s offerings. Examples include advertising, public relations, social media, websites, email marketing, mobile apps, and customer service hotlines.
  1. Sales Channels: Consider the different sales channels used to facilitate transactions and generate revenue. This could include direct sales, online sales, sales agents, resellers, or affiliate programs.
  1. Touchpoints: Identify the specific points of interaction between the business and its customers. These touchpoints could include physical stores, websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, customer service interactions, or product delivery experiences.
  1. Integration: Ensure that the various channels work together cohesively to provide a consistent and seamless customer experience. Integration between channels allows for a smooth customer journey and helps maximize customer satisfaction.
  1. Customer Preferences: Understand the preferences and behaviors of your target customers when it comes to channels. Consider their preferred methods of communication, purchasing habits, and preferred touchpoints. Align your channel selection with these preferences to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction.

Key resources of business model canvas

“Key resources” is one of the essential elements of the Business Model Canvas. It refers to the strategic assets, both tangible and intangible, that a business needs to operate effectively and deliver its value proposition to customers. 

These resources can encompass a wide range of elements, including physical assets, intellectual property, human capital, financial resources, and more.

Key resources can be categorized into several types, depending on the nature of the business. For example, manufacturing companies might require machinery, production facilities, and raw materials as their key resources. 

Technology companies may consider intellectual property, software, and skilled developers as critical resources. Service-based businesses might emphasize the importance of talented employees, specialized expertise, and professional networks as their key resources.

When analyzing the key resources element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider questions such as:

  1. What are the essential physical assets, intellectual property, or capabilities required to deliver the value proposition?
  1. How can the business acquire and secure these key resources?
  1. Are there any partnerships or collaborations that can provide access to critical resources?
  1. How does the availability and allocation of resources impact the cost structure and overall profitability of the business?

Key partners of business model canvas

The “Key partners” element in the Business Model Canvas refers to the external entities or organizations that collaborate with a business to enhance its operations, leverage resources, and create mutual value.

Key partners can play a vital role in supporting the business by providing expertise, resources, distribution channels, or strategic alliances.

Identifying and cultivating strong partnerships is important for businesses as it allows them to access additional capabilities, reach new markets, reduce costs, and mitigate risks. Key partners can vary widely depending on the nature of the business and its industry.

When analyzing the “Key partners” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

Strategic Partnerships: Identify partners who have complementary strengths, expertise, or resources that align with your business objectives. These partners can contribute to the development, production, distribution, or marketing of your products or services. Examples include suppliers, manufacturers, technology providers, logistics companies, and marketing agencies.

Distribution Partnerships: Consider partners who can help expand your reach and access new customer segments. These partners may have established distribution channels, networks, or customer relationships that can accelerate the delivery of your offerings. Examples include distributors, retailers, online marketplaces, and affiliate programs.

Co-Creation Partnerships: Explore collaborative partnerships where you can work together with other organizations to develop new products, services, or innovations. These partnerships can leverage the expertise and resources of multiple parties to create unique value propositions. Examples include research institutions, universities, or industry associations.

Strategic Alliances: Look for opportunities to form alliances with competitors or businesses in related industries to leverage shared resources, expertise, or market presence. These alliances can enhance competitiveness, drive innovation, and unlock new growth opportunities. Examples include joint ventures, co-marketing agreements, or cross-licensing partnerships.

Supplier Relationships: Consider the suppliers or vendors that provide essential inputs or resources for your business operations. Building strong relationships with reliable suppliers can ensure a steady supply of high-quality materials or services, reducing operational risks.

Key activities of business model canvas

The “Key activities” element in the Business Model Canvas refers to the core set of activities that a business engages in to create, deliver, and maintain its value proposition. These activities are the fundamental tasks and processes that drive the operations of the business and enable it to function effectively.

Identifying and understanding key activities is essential for businesses as it helps them focus on the critical tasks that directly contribute to delivering value to customers and achieving business objectives.

When analyzing the “Key activities” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  1. Value Chain: Identify the key activities that form the value chain of your business. This includes activities such as product design, manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, customer service, and post-sales support.
  1. Production or Service Delivery: Determine the activities involved in producing your products or delivering your services. This could include sourcing materials, manufacturing, quality control, packaging, or service delivery processes.
  1. Research and Development: Consider activities related to research and development, innovation, and continuous improvement of products, services, or processes. This could involve conducting market research, prototyping, testing, and refining offerings.
  1. Marketing and Sales: Evaluate activities related to marketing, branding, and sales. This includes market analysis, advertising, lead generation, customer acquisition, and sales conversion strategies.
  1. Customer Service and Support: Identify activities that focus on providing customer service, support, and post-sales assistance. This includes handling inquiries, resolving issues, managing customer relationships, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
  1. Partnership Management: Consider activities related to managing relationships with key partners, such as collaboration, coordination, and joint initiatives. This may involve activities such as partner onboarding, contract negotiation, or performance monitoring.
  1. Infrastructure and Operations: Evaluate activities required to maintain the infrastructure and operational efficiency of the business. This includes activities related to IT systems, logistics, supply chain management, human resources, financial management, and legal compliance.

Revenue streams of business model canvas

In the context of the Business Model Canvas, “Revenue Streams” refers to the different ways in which a business generates income or revenue. It focuses on identifying the sources of revenue and how the business monetizes its products, services, or value propositions.

The Revenue Streams component of the canvas helps businesses understand and plan their revenue generation strategies.

When filling out the Revenue Streams section of the canvas, you should consider the following aspects:

Types of Revenue: Identify the various types or categories of revenue that your business generates. This could include product sales, service fees, subscriptions, licensing, advertising revenue, or any other form of income.

Pricing Mechanisms: Determine the pricing models or mechanisms you use to generate revenue. This could include one-time purchases, recurring subscriptions, tiered pricing, volume discounts, freemium models, or any other pricing strategy.

Revenue Sources: Identify the specific customer segments or sources from which your revenue is derived. For example, if you have different customer segments with distinct revenue streams, you can specify them in this section.

Revenue Drivers: Consider the factors that drive your revenue streams. This could include factors such as customer acquisition, customer retention, upselling or cross-selling, strategic partnerships, or any other factors that contribute to revenue growth.

By clearly defining and understanding your revenue streams, you can make informed decisions about pricing, marketing, and resource allocation. 

Cost structure of business model canvas

The “Cost structure” element in the Business Model Canvas refers to the various costs and expenses that a business incurs in its operations to deliver its value proposition and sustain its business model. It involves understanding and managing the different cost components to ensure the business remains financially viable and profitable.

Analyzing the “Cost structure” element is crucial as it helps businesses evaluate their cost drivers, optimize expenses, and make informed decisions to achieve efficiency and profitability.

When examining the “Cost structure” element in the Business Model Canvas, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  1. Cost Types: Identify the different types of costs incurred by the business. These can include fixed costs (e.g., rent, salaries, utilities) and variable costs (e.g., materials, production costs, marketing expenses). It is essential to understand the breakdown of costs to have a clear picture of where the business is allocating its resources.
  1. Cost Drivers: Determine the factors that influence the costs of the business. This could include factors such as economies of scale, production volume, supplier relationships, technology investments, or regulatory requirements. Identifying the key drivers helps in understanding the relationship between business activities and costs.
  1. Cost Optimization: Evaluate opportunities to optimize costs without compromising the value proposition or customer experience. This could involve exploring cost-saving measures, negotiating favorable supplier contracts, improving operational efficiency, or adopting technology solutions that reduce expenses.
  1. Value Chain Analysis: Assess the cost structure within the context of the value chain. Identify the cost drivers at each stage of the value chain and determine how they contribute to the overall cost structure. This analysis helps in identifying areas where cost reductions or efficiency improvements can be made.
  1. Scalability and Margins: Consider the scalability of the business model and how costs may change as the business grows. Analyze the impact of scaling operations on the cost structure and ensure that the business can maintain sustainable profit margins as it expands.
  1. Cost Allocation: Allocate costs to specific activities or revenue streams to understand their impact on profitability. This helps in identifying which activities or products/services contribute the most to revenue generation and which may have higher cost-to-profit ratios.

Your Turn

Now that you have a clear understanding of the elements of your business model, it’s time to put it into action. Take the next step by reading our comprehensive article:
Mystery Solved: Business Model Canvas Examples with Step-by-step Instruction to Create and Refine Yours ”
This article provides practical examples and a detailed guide to help you create and refine your own business model canvas. By exploring real-world examples and following the step-by-step instructions, you’ll gain valuable insights and set a solid foundation for the success of your business. Click here to access the article and take your business model to the next level.

Key insights

  • The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a powerful framework for designing, analyzing, and optimizing business models.
  • The BMC consists of nine essential building blocks that provide a holistic view of a business model: Customer Segments, Value Proposition, Customer Relationships, Channels, Key Resources, Key Partners, Key Activities, Revenue Streams, and Cost Structure.
  • Customer Segments focus on identifying and understanding different groups of customers that a business serves or intends to serve.
  • The Value Proposition defines the unique value or benefits that a business offers to its customers.
  • Customer Relationships involve strategies and approaches to build and maintain relationships with customers throughout their journey.
  • Channels refer to the various methods or channels through which a business communicates with and delivers value to its customers.
  • Key Resources are the strategic assets, both tangible and intangible, that a business needs to operate effectively and deliver its value proposition.
  • Key Partners are external entities or organizations that collaborate with a business to enhance its operations and create mutual value.
  • Key Activities are the core set of activities that a business engages in to create, deliver, and maintain its value proposition.
  • Revenue Streams represent the different sources of revenue for a business.
  • Cost Structure refers to the various costs and expenses that a business incurs in its operations to deliver its value proposition and sustain its business model.

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Seyed Morteza Mortazavi
Hi! I am Seyed Morteza, the content expert of the ECN company. I love to share my knowledge and expertise in the E-commerce field with curious businesses or individuals. Visit my LinkedIn profile to get in touch.