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Online Facilitation of the Business Model Canvas

The modern startup landscape is full of new products and services, but only a few are able to build a business strategy competently. Basic entrepreneurial skills should be developed even if you do not have a plan to launch your own business in the near future.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a popular tool that gives a complete picture of the business model to smaller start-ups as well as mature organizations, which gives clear ideas how to scale existing model and not to get lost in the pursue of new opportunities.

How to use Business Model Canvas

In order to get a complete business model, BMC offers you to answer 50 questions in 9 different areas of the business model. At the same time, when answering questions, you should clearly follow the step-by-step process:

For example, it is not recommended to skip STEP 4. CUSTOMER RELATIONS without answering questions from STEP 1. CUSTOMER SEGMENTS. But you always can return to the previous steps if, for example, the discussion of CHANNELS gives you interesting ideas about CUSTOMER SEGMENTS.

Answers to the questions are usually written on the cards and put directly into the canvas. I recommend to use color coding that can help to tie related cards in different columns. This will help to dynamically re-think, update and complement individual areas. A well-filled business model requires no explanation, just look at the content to understand how the business works.

At the last online meetup, one participant, who is trying to build a commercial platform for hackathons, found BMC quite comprehensive and holistic that helped him to discover some weak areas he never thought about before.

Online Facilitation of the Business Model Canvas

Time management is the most difficult thing. Even discussing five questions from the customer segments can take several hours. What about the 50 more questions? At the remote meeting, we tested a balanced facilitation approach:

  • Use Zoom Breakout Rooms. If the number of participants is more than seven, then it is better to divide into two groups of 4+4, which should fill out the BMC independently of each other
  • The facilitator gives the instruction only for one step at a time (see pdf attached).
  • When instructions clear facilitator opens the room for 10 minutes. The room closes after expiration of the time-box. It may be inconvenient in the beginning, but then the participants should get used to a certain pace. If you have one small group, it is still recommended to use a separate discussion room so that the room can be closed.
  • Collaborative tools, such as Mural, is highly recommended
  • Good pace should help all groups to complete BMC in no more than 90 minutes. It can be a draft version for further refinement, but covers all areas
  • Participants can summon the facilitator to join the room to clarify the process, but the facilitator himself does not come in and control the discussion


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