MVP stands for minimum viable product and entrepreneurs should ALWAYS use this technique to bring a product to market. An MVP is an excellent way to begin receiving feedback about your products and is essential to the direction you’ll take as you begin to fine tune your offering. These MVP’s are usually not the product you’ll mass produce but you’ll need to produce enough to gain enough meaningful feedback.
My background is in design engineering and I constantly remind other engineers how important the MVP is. So many times the products become far too complicated and feature creep has eroded the margins of the product and impacted your schedule. Many entrepreneurs also fall into this trap as each idea seems to be so cool, you can’t pass it up. The entrepreneur is responsible for the direction of their business and they need to have some measure to know when to stop adding to the offering and use an MVP.
I have 5 tips to help you, the entrepreneur, know when you should take your product to market as an MVP and how to evaluate your next steps.
- Define the problem
- This should have been your starting point so you may be able to skip to part 2 however, you must have a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Why are you making this product? What purpose do you have to your customer? What problem do you solve for your customer?
- Develop the product or service that solves the problem.
- Keep it simple with the goal clear.
- Have you solved the problem with a simple offering?
- The idea here is to keep the question simple and to ensure you have a clear understanding of what is required to bring value to the customer. As soon as you reach a point where you have solved the basic problem, it’s time to go to MVP.
- Collect data from the MVP.
- This is EXTREMELY important as it will define your future direction in your product or service offering. You need to collect feedback on your initial product. Remember, just because you think you solved your customer’s problem doesn’t mean you have in their minds. Your customer may value certain aspects of the product more than you and may not value the same attributes as much as you. You will need to get this feedback to see if you are aligned with the perceptions of your customers.
- Apply the feedback from the MVP to your offering.
Overall, I use these 5 steps to look at product development. Using these steps helps me prevent feature creep and especially helps me remember that my product is not a secret. Feedback is absolutely necessary and important. If you attempt to take a product to market without feedback, you’re likely to fail miserably since you may not understand the true needs of your target customers.
A great article that discusses the development of an MVP can be found here. It has a great outline and details the process of developing an MVP. In addition, I also found a great book called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries where he discusses this process in great detail.
What are your thoughts on the MVP concept? Do you agree? Leave a comment!