What Is A Minimum Viable Product?

If you want to be successful in business then you need to create a minimum viable product. As an angel investor, I get to see many pitches, product and prototypes. One of the most difficult things I see is startups who've spent tons of money on product development, only to find out:

  • There's no demand for their product.
  • Their product misses the mark and major redevelopment is needed.

In medicine “minimum effective dose” is the lowest amount of a drug that produces a therapeutic response in those taking it. It’s used to ensure patients get the treatment they need without being overexposed to unnecessary side effects.

As an entrepreneur, it’s natural to want to create an outstanding product. Often we feel like artists working on a masterpiece. There can be a lot of emotions attached to what we’re producing.

We want to present our best to the world. While being passionate is most definitely part of the success equation, it can also be a major roadblock in the process.

Read on and I’ll share with you two things I’ve learned from expensive experience.

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Minimum Viable Product Explained

A minimum viable product is essentially the beta-phase of your product. You'll develop a product that has the core functionality of what you want to offer in the quickest time possible, and cheaply. But it's not anywhere near the finished product. - Allan Dib

To Create a Minimum Viable Product You'll Likely Fail Cheap, Fail Often

Nobody wants to be told their baby is ugly. But what's more painful is learning your product's a no go when you’ve sunk huge amounts of time, money and effort into developing it.

When it comes to product development – the probability of creating a smash hit on the first go is astronomically low. I’ve come to expect that I’ll need to course correct or even start over multiple times before I get my winner.

Surveys and marketing research can help you identify a winner quicker. But there’s nothing like actually trying to get someone to part with their money to determine if what you have is of value to the market or not.

This is why I’ve now learned to make small “bets”. This lets you fail cheap and fail often as opposed to a “bet the farm” strategy. By making small investments, you can cut the losers early and ride the winners.

Real Artists Ship

Steve Jobs famously said, “real artists ship”. I’ve taken that statement to mean two things.

  1. It’s easy to have a theoretically “perfect” product sitting endlessly on your drawing board. However, you can only start judging it properly when it’s in the hands of your end customer.
  2. Real artists or entrepreneurs are prolific. They create multiple iterations of their product with continual improvement based on customer feedback.

It’s this valuable feedback loop we want to tap into early in the product development process. By creating a “minimum viable product" you build a product that has the core functionality of what you want to offer. And you create it as quickly and cheaply as possible.

So, instead of packing all the features you think your customers want into a product. And this is an expensive and protracted product development cycle.

You'll release a bare bones product and tap into the feedback your customers are giving you. What do they like, what do they dislike? You let them define the features and future of the product. It’s never been easier and cheaper to do product development this way.

What Makes Developing A Minimum viable Produce(MVP) Possible?

Exponential advances in technology and the constant drop in price of these technologies, makes creating MVP possible.

Social media, mobile devices and web technology can give you almost real-time, continual feedback directly from your customers.

Of course, certain industries lend themselves better to this type of product development than others. If you operate in a highly regulated industry like car manufacturing or pharmaceuticals this will not be possible.

But this is the exception rather than the rule. Most small businesses can create minimum viable products and experiment with features, price, terms etc.

I'm talking about ordinary local businesses like cafes and restaurants to services businesses like legal firms, accountants and many others.

Start Tapping Into Your Ideal Customer

Shipping quickly. Tapping into a customer feedback loop. Constantly improving your products is the best and most reliable way I know of consistently producing winners.

Don't invest all your time into building something you think your customers want. Let them guide you in terms of what they want and make it happen.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our article on Building Business Systems.  It will help you to skyrocket your sales, and attract investors.

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