In a blog post last October entitled “Entrepreneurship as a Science – The Business Model/Customer Development Stack” Steve Blank suggested

Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur defined a business model as how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value. More importantly they showed how any company’s business model could be defined in 9 boxes. It’s an amazing and powerful tool.  It instantly creates a shared visual language while defining a business.  Their book “Business Model Generation,” is the definitive text on the subject.

Currently there are a number of templates and tools that help teams build a business model canvas:

Osterwalder’s formulation reminds me of Newton’s dot notation for calculus (fluxions or derivatives). It points out the need for a formal notation but it’s too cumbersome and not usefully extensible. I don’t question the need for meaningful and portable representations of business models, and the canvas may be the best thing we have today, but I think it will represent an evolutionary dead end.

It seems like much of the push for it comes from folks who look at many business models (e.g Angels,incubators, and VCs) and want them to be easily comparable, not from entrepreneurs who want to be able to track what they need to validate next and the evolution of their thinking and hypothesis set over time.

For me the approaches suggested below seem more promising, at least through the Find Your Niche stage.

Our approach for bootstrapping entrepreneurs who target businesses includes:


Update Oct 24: Rob Fitz has blogged that he is “Phasing out Canvas and Dashboard Tools.