Understanding Key Activities in a Business Model Canvas

Key activities are essential tasks a business must perform to deliver its value proposition to customers. These activities are critical for developing and maintaining a competitive advantage, especially in the face of market changes and business model innovation.

Identifying Key Activities

Starting with Your Value Proposition

To identify key activities, start with your value proposition:

  • Building the Product/Service: What are the most crucial actions to construct your product or service?
  • Distribution: Which activities are vital for delivering your product or service to customers?
  • Customer Relationships: What actions are needed to maintain and enhance customer relationships?
  • Revenue Streams: What tasks are fundamental to generate revenue efficiently?

Examples by Industry

Examples of key activities in various industries include:

  • Florist: Buying flowers, preparing arrangements, delivering orders, managing promotional channels.
  • Manufacturing (e.g., Plastics Factory): Maintaining production, ensuring operational safety, reducing costs, and improving productivity.
  • Retail (e.g., Supermarket): Restocking shelves, ensuring product availability.
  • Technology (e.g., Google): Improving code base, analyzing data for better services and advertisements.
  • Furniture Retail (e.g., IKEA): Optimizing logistics, reducing product costs.
  • Space Industry (e.g., SpaceX): Designing and manufacturing rockets, improving rocket control systems, selling orbital delivery services.
  • Consulting/Legal (Problem-solving focused): Client consultations, case law review.

Identifying Daily Key Activities

Daily essential activities that your staff performs regularly are likely to be key activities. For instance:

– A supermarket must continuously restock shelves to maintain its business model.

– For IKEA, optimizing the logistics chain to ensure product availability is crucial.

“Respecting and promoting human rights in our business activities” by Nestlé is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Production vs. Problem-Solving Business Models


Revolves around obtaining raw materials, transforming them, and distributing finished products.


Focuses on processes that solve customer problems, often involving knowledge-intensive activities like consulting and law.

Platform or Network-Based Businesses

Platforms require both initial development and ongoing optimization. Examples include:

  • Facebook: Built once and continually optimized.
  • Marketplace Platforms: Need infrastructure for sellers and facilities for buyers.

“Juan María Nin, Chief Executive Officer, CaixaBank, Spain – a pick-up in bank lending will boost private sector activity – 2011 Horasis Global Arab Business Meeting” by Horasis is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.

Practical Steps for Prioritizing Key Activities

Think of Essential Tasks

Consider the top three tasks you would do if you were the only person available.


Focus on 2-3 primary activities. For startups, having too many key activities indicates a lack of focus and can dilute efforts.

Key activities are foundational to a business’s operation and competitive edge. By identifying and focusing on crucial tasks, businesses can streamline their processes, innovate effectively, and maintain their market position. Prioritize these activities to build a robust business model, especially during the early stages of business development.

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