What comes to mind when you think about kickstarting, mapping or developing your social enterprise idea? If it is sitting down and writing a 30-page business plan, think again. Don’t take offence but no one (besides you) is probably ever going to read it. That being said, it is vital that you are able to clearly communicate your social enterprise to others.

For early-stage social enterprises, the Social Lean Canvas is an excellent substitute to crafting a full business plan. Developed by Rowan Yeoman and Dave Moskovitz, it is a tool designed to help you brainstorm possible business models and map out your social enterprises’ purpose. All on one page. As Robert Southey once said, “It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”

You can download the Social Lean Canvas here.

Like any business, the initial goal at the early-stages of developing your social enterprise is to improve the likelihood of success and minimise the risk of failure. The Social Lean Canvas is made up 9 sections that, in combination, reveal whether or not your new social venture has the potential to get to product/market fit. In completing the canvas, you turn your idea into a set of assumptions that you can then test with the aim of eventually arriving at a carefully validated, scalable, repeatable business model.

The Social Lean Canvas will guide you through every facet of a social enterprise helping you to identify and quantify the key drivers and priorities. The process encourages you stay flexible, lean and agile, thereby preventing you from getting obsessed with a single idea. Creating a one page visual of your social enterprise via the Social Lean Canvas will help you not only explain the idea to others but also, and perhaps most importantly, support you in testing it – which can save you from wasting months or years of your time, effort and resources.

You can download the Social Lean Canvas here.

Do you have any tips on how to get your social enterprise concept down on paper? Have you used the Social Lean Canvas? Was it valuable? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Social Enterprise on 1 Page: Social Lean Canvas




  • […] and social enterprise? Of course you have. Well wonder no more, as Social Good Stuff bring you the Social Lean Canvas, sure to be featured in an SSE start up session near you […]

  • I’m building a lean startup social enterprise myself and have found that the Business Model Canvas is totally essential to designing and testing your business model. It’s brilliant! But this Social Lean canvas adds new sections that were already part of other sections, and leaves out vital sections that any business has to plan and validate. By switching sections around it also messes with the neatness with which the sections interact. I don’t see this new version of the canvas as an improvement at all. The original canvas does take a little bit of learning to get the most out of it, but it’s got almost all any social enterprise needs in its model. The one improvement it could do with is to add Social Benefit/Impact, and Social Cost sections under the financial benefits (revenue) and costs sections – such a version is already in use somewhere. I’d love to discover an even better canvas for social enterprises, but the ones I’ve seen aren’t.

    • Hi Tim! Thanks for the comment and suggestion. Please feel free to share other Canvi you come across.

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