How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Minimum Viable Product

Inspired by a love for the classic film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, this post is dedicated to the Minimum Viable Product.

I used to be afraid of the MVP. I used to think that a businesses’ success was predicated by it’s access to capital. Then, I learned how to build and market an MVP.

After years of practice and careful analysis I realized errors in the “pay for play” methodology with regards to sustainability. I therefore fell in love with the Minimum Viable Product. And I’m not ashamed to say it. Neither should you.

The driving force behind the MVP is proof of concept. In my humble opinion there’s no better way to build a business; If you’re having trouble proving a concept beyond any reasonable skepticism, it’s going to be tough to build a sustainable business model.

If you’re interested in the idea of building out your own MVP here are a few steps that will help along the way.

Step 1: Build Your Minimum Viable Product 

Just build it. Get out there and do what needs to be done while keeping your costs at a minimum. There are a plethora of tools across the web that will help you achieve functionality in a desired manner. Need a website? Go talk to the good folks at WordPress or Squarespace. Looking to prototype for the web or mobile? Check out Invision.  Testing the e-commerce landscape? Use Shopify. Need a cost effective functional CRM/Automation tool? Check out Active Campaign. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish the internet has you covered.

Additionally – and if you’re not capable of taking advantage of the web’s tools – you can find reasonably priced freelancer resources such as Odesk or Elance (now Upwork.com).

Step 2: Prove Concept Through Outreach 

Once you’ve built your MVP, and it’s functioning in a presentable manner, it’s time to hit the pavement with your perceived target users. Reach out immediately and start building a pool of feedback.

Find your target user and pitch. Find out what they do, and more importantly do not like about your product. Ask the hardest questions, specifically, if they will purchase your product in it’s current form. If not, find out why and solve that problem immediately to achieve a desired functionality within your vision.

Repeat. This is important, very important. Make sure you reach out to different sets of users for different sets of feedback and consistently iterate on it. Small sets of data are known to be misleading (data sets under 1,000 points to be specific) so be sure that you’ve gained the right amount of feedback from a diverse demographic of users. Too high a concentration of the wrong feedback can stop a vision it’s tracks.

Step 3:  Gain Traction By Rewarding Early Adopters

Now that you’ve got your MVP ready to sell, it’s time to start gaining some traction in the market. One of the more efficient ways of doing so, is to reward your early adopters. Your business should be able to do this symbiotically, not simply by giving away product. Craft incentives that are beneficial to both your bottom line and the end user. Referral programs, price point discounting, freemium models, and early partnerships built to sustain are a great place to start.

A great example of crafting bottom line through beneficial incentives is a company you may have heard of, Google Adwords. They’re the ones who built millions of dollars in revenue through user acquisition promotions. And they’re still doing it.

Scale

If you’ve followed the MVP steps appropriately; You’ve gotten your feedback, iterated, gotten more feedback, iterated, gained some early traction and symbiotically built bottom line by rewarding your adopters. So what’s next?

Your next step is to bring your business beyond the minimum viable product and put yourself in the position to scale. The equation for this process is entirely different than building your MVP, but if you get to this step you’ll thank yourself for going through the minimum viable process.

And now, Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove: