What does minimum viable product mean? In this article, you'll learn why and how to launch your business with a minimum viable product.
Now that you hopefully have decided on your company name, it's time to start building your business and launch a product.
This is the scary part.
Let me share a few words on that note, just to set your mind straight from the beginning.
Being an entrepreneur means that you will fail occasionally.
There's nothing wrong with that and you can't completely avoid it.
So instead of trying to avoid failure, the game plan should be to fail as fast as possible.
That means you shouldn't be afraid to fail, but once you see that something isn't working, be fast to move on.
Let me stress: you really need to learn to enjoy the process, learn from your failures, and move forward quickly if you want to make it in this game.
The next step is to actually do something that gets you closer to your goal. The best way to do that is to start experimenting.
Experimenting with a minimum viable product (MVP)
MVP, meaning minimum viable product, is a great way to test if your product works without investing too much time and money into it.
Picture this. You have mapped out the best business plan, done the in-depth market analysis, created an astonishing product, hired marketing experts, and set up a sales funnel. Only to find out that people didn't need your product, or that you didn't succeed in making them understand that they need it.
That's why it's better to launch fast and execute on your idea as soon as you've got what is called a minimum viable product.
Minimum viable product means to build the core functionality of your product and then test if people like it.
A rule of thumb is to get 80% of your product done and then go out and test it in various ways.
You should not necessarily expect massive success on an MVP launch, because you do need to perfect your product or service before it will “take off”, but the idea is to just check that it's not a complete failure and that it generates some interest.
The definition of an MVP is basically a product that just has the absolute core features, without all the extra fluff. It's the rawest version of your product, that has enough features to serve its purpose but isn't yet finalized.
Conducting micro experiments
Once you have your MVP ready, you need to conduct micro experiments to confirm that it works (or at least confirm that it doesn't completely suck).
This is essential because you don't want to continue developing a product just to find out that it has no value to your customers.
The experiments you have to do highly depend on your market and what your product is going to be.
Tips for conducting micro experiments:
- Generate pre-launch leads. If you're not able to generate leads, you definitely won't generate sales.
- Try giving it away for free. If no one wants it for free, no one will want to pay for it.
- Run a social media ad to see how people engage with your product. Are they asking questions, or is it completely ignored?
Build MVP before product launch
“A good product markets itself.”
That's a phrase you have heard entrepreneurs say. And it's true.
If you can create something solid that offers high value, people will stand in line to do business with you, and you won't have to spend as much time and money on marketing.
So building a great product should definitely be your long-term goal. That's what you should do as an entrepreneur and the reason you'll get paid a lot.
But forget that for now and focus on your minimum viable product for a second.
You'll only be able to build a great product when you learn what the actual demands are, and get a real feel for the industry.
In this interesting article, you'll see seven examples of minimum viable products that became billion-dollar companies. I bet you recognize most of those names.
It's nearly impossible to build an extraordinary product or service without hearing what your customers think first.
Follow this process
- Do an MVP launch with the bare minimum features, but with strong core functionality. Get at least 20 real customers to test it out and give you feedback.
- After you have received some initial feedback and talked to your first customers, you'll have a better idea of what works well and what you can improve.
- Take this data and create a roadmap of how you're going to improve your product and make it into something spectacular.
- Then, make it your daily mission to steadily make your product into the most outstanding one on the market.
- Do a new product launch with a greatly improved product.
Keys to a successful product launch
The key to a good product launch is to understand your customer.
It's up to the entrepreneur to understand what makes a good product in their specific industry, and you need to create a strong vision around that.
See the problems people are encountering, and have the vision to create solutions for those problems.
Here's some general guidelines that might help steer you in the right direction.
1. Don't forget UI & UX
Being able to package the product in a neat way is a very important step. How you build the user interface is going to determine how the user experiences it.
2. Create a product roadmap
A product roadmap is similar to a business plan, but for your product. Clarifying the vision and direction of your product will make it easier to map out the development process.
3. Focus on one product
More products are not always better. Launching multiple products is a common mistake that dilutes your energy. Focus on building multiple products at once, and you'll be making them all mediocre – at best. Focus on building one really strong product first, then move on to the next thing.
4. Make it simple
People love simplicity. Sometimes it's more powerful to think about what features you should remove rather than what to add. Focus on your core functionality first and move on to more advanced functionality later.
5. Communicate with your customers
Your customers have a better idea of what they need than you do. Get customer-based feedback continuously and make the product about them, not you. This does of course not mean to blindly listen to every complaint, but when you see an overall trend, don't ignore it.
6. Ask if you would use your own product
A classic but powerful tip is to simply ask yourself if you would want to purchase your own products. If you're not enthusiastic about elegantly solving the problem, your customers won't be interested in your product.
7. Examine value proposition
Most new entrepreneurs build what already exists on the market, and that's why they are average. If you want to get to the top, you need to carefully examine how you're going to do things differently and provide real value.