Although many people treat it as such, the concept of a minimum viable product (MVP) is NOT just just a buzzword or trend. If you want to save money and build a better product while staying lean, it’s an absolute essential to get right.
This lean startup culture lingo is often tied back to The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, who introduced this concept to the masses in his 2011 best-selling business book. The MVP was just one of the concepts he spoke about, and since then, it’s become a major foundational element to countless startups.
What exactly is a minimum viable product?
This is one of those things that sounds much more complicated than it actually is. The basic gist behind creating a MVP is that you create something usable to test a business idea. Before investing large sums of money or finalizing your product, you create a beta version that your users can test, and help you finalize.
The point is to put in as little work as possible, to get your business or product to a place where customers can use it, validate it, and make suggestions on what would improve it. You get to confirm there is a demand, and get valuable feedback and insight from your potential customers on what they want and need out of your product and service.
Once you’ve gotten validation and customer insight, it’s time to invest and finalize your product. Making any major investments before testing in this manner is in contraction to the proven methodology of the lean startup, and really just an unnecessary risk in today’s digital landscape. This model can be applied to every single business out there, not just technology-based businesses.
Let’s go through a really simple example that would apply to almost every entrepreneur out there, and see how we can use the MVP model to test an idea before investing a bunch of time and money.
The concept? You want to sell something. Anything. Let’s pretend it’s an eBook or brand new app.
MVP: you’re going to see if there’s any interest around what you’re offering before you create it.
How to do it? You’re going to spend the weekend building yourself a 3-page website. Use one of the many builders out there and pay a few dollars for a domain but don’t bother buying a fancy template just yet.
Your website needs 3 pages:
Sales page: this is to market your product or service About me page: tell people about you, your business, and provide contact information Lead-capture page: this is where you collect people’s emails for when the product or service is ready, or you pre-sell now
Next, you’re going to drive some traffic to your page and see if there’s any market demand for what you’re offering. You haven’t created it yet, but that doesn’t matter. Whether you invest in Facebook ads or start making cold calls, just get people to that page.
If your business idea starts to generate sales or a waiting list, you’re beginning to validate your idea. Only now does it make sense to invest in creating. If you’re not getting any solid results, it’s time to rethink your business plan or start tweaking your sales copy. You don’t invest in your business idea until the market is telling you it’s what they want.
This is a simple and almost stupid example, but it’s a process that so many people skip over. They spend 2 months of their time creating that eBook, and then no one wants it. They create an app that no one downloads. You can apply the MVP model to any business - it’s the absolute best way to save money and increase revenue.