DECA Goes Lean in Entrepreneurship

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, DECA will begin using new terminology and outlines in many of its Entrepreneurship Events. Specifically, DECA has adopted terminology associated with the lean business model canvas. This article will explain why the changes are being made, explain the major components of the lean business model canvas, and provide a list of resources to help advisors and members learn more.

Why is DECA Changing Its Entrepreneurship Events?

Each year DECA’s Competitive Events Taskforce meets in the winter to review a select grouping of DECA’s competitive events. During the 2014-2015 school year this committee met and decided that DECA’s Business Management and Entrepreneurship Events were becoming dated and were in need of revision. Input was sought and received from members of DECA’s National Advisory Board (Kauffman Foundation, International Franchise Association Educational Institute) and instructors of entrepreneurship at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

This taskforce took the responsibility and challenge very seriously. Ultimately, the taskforce decided that DECA should adopt the lean business model canvas as the foundation for its Entrepreneurship Events.

Why the Lean Business Model Canvas?

Input received from industry experts suggested that DECA’s business plan outlines were becoming less and less commonly used by entrepreneurs. The business model canvas and lean start-up canvas are now more commonplace in practice. Further investigation determined that the lean business model canvas mentality was the future and where DECA should align itself.

DECA strives to be at the forefront of industry trends and by adopting the lean business model canvas, DECA is now in a better position to serve instructors and students of entrepreneurship.

What is the Lean Business Model Canvas?

During the Competitive Events Taskforce’s work, it was discovered that more and more entrepreneurs are framing their business models using a “canvas.” The canvas is a way to present the key components of a business model on one piece of paper. Once the key components have been identified, the details of the business plan and model can be filled in using more detail. The lean business model canvas has nine sections or components.

Below are brief explanations of the components:

  1. Problem – In this section, members should list the top three problems their product/service is addressing.
  2. Customer Segments – In this section, members should list who the primary customers will be for their product or service.
  3. Unique Value Proposition – In this section, members should identify the single, clear, compelling message that states why their product/service is different and worth buying.
  4. Solution – In this section, members should identify the top three features of their product/service.
  5. Channels – In this section, members should determine the possible pathways to customers.
  6. Revenue Streams – In this section, members must explain the revenue model, determine life time values, describe the revenue, and determine gross margins.
  7. Cost Structure – In this section, members should calculate the customer acquisition costs, the distribution costs, the human resources costs, and any other additional costs.
  8. Key Metrics – In this section, members should identify the key activities that must be measured.
  9. Competitive Advantage – In this section, members should describe what about their product/service means that it cannot be easily copied or bought.

Note: Download the canvas template here.

Which Events Use Which Components of the Lean Business Model Canvas?

Download this chart to see which components of the lean business model canvas are used in each of DECA’s Entrepreneurship Events.


There are many, many videos, books, podcasts, online courses, seminars, etc. related to the lean business model canvas.

Below is a list of suggested resources to begin learning more about this topic:



  • Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean Series) by Ash Maurya
  • Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  • Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want (Strategyzer) by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Online Courses


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Categories: Advisors, Compete, DECA News, High School, HS Competitive Events