Trying to be perfect
MVPs or ‘Minimal Viable Products’ are business ventures that are launched into the market with only a small set of functions. They’re valued by pragmatic brands, who’re less interested in a product needing to look like it’s been around for ten years in the first three months of its existence, and more inclined to seeing their creation stand on its own two feet. Sure it’s nice to have a polished product from what you can see on the outside, but what happens after the shine rubs off and issues start to just pop up? There’s no longer any ‘simple changes’ that can be made. Every decision has had thousands of dollars and countless hours already accredited to it. Wouldn’t you think that has the potential to cause a great deal of stress and potentially create arguments within any team?
This is the realisation that we had at Hustle. Instead, it sounds a lot more reasonable, exciting and beneficial to a projects’ survival, to launch MVPs as soon as they can service their core function, and focus on the details later. True value is establishing leads and removing bugs early, as well as hearing directly from your target audience as to what they do and don’t like about your product. That insight in particular is what every business should do whatever they can to chase. The not so secret, secret, is that it starts with making your product at least in its initial form – unscalable. That’s where we jump into the second episode of ‘The Venture Beyond Podcast’, don’t try to be scalable early, instead have conversations with whoever you think your audience may be and just start!
Seriously, just start
So, after all that talk about starting, where exactly should you start? In the podcast, we stress that the number goal after launching an MVP is to do whatever you can to create an open line between your business and target audience. You may not know what your ideal customer may look like yet, their habits, likes and dislikes; though once you begin to find them, you’ll start to unravel their opinion which will be invaluable to your product’s development. Launching a product then with a minimum set of functions/features creates a clear parameter for those potential audiences to lend their opinion within. Once those audiences begin to share the same sentiments or alternatively maybe even have a drastically different outlook on the product’s features, you’ll confidently be able to identify truths and understanding as to what value your product should provide to these people.
Your MVP is out in the world. You’ve officially started, congrats! Plus you have a clear comprehension of what is and isn’t being received well with your product. It’s now important to use that data to begin defining or redefining what your value proposition is. Why should anyone care about your product and how does it stand out from the rest? In the example of our recently launched MVP – ‘SiteWatcher’, we highlight in the podcast that it’s a necessary product for business’ dependent on their websites driving sales, awareness etc. That’s because SiteWatcher does as the name suggests. It keeps an always watching eye on the status of a live site and any irregularities such as it dropping out forces instant alerts to be sent to the admins of the page. The service therefore has tremendous value, not only for being able to help admins perform fixes on sites much quicker than previously, but it also identifies if performance issues are happening an unacceptable number of times. For the price this service is offered, there is undeniable value in SiteWatcher.
Once you can confidently identify your product’s value, the next step is to clearly define who your ideal customer is. Who do you hope will see your product and think, I really need this. You may already know the answer to this after the conversations you had with the audiences who saw the MVP launch and when going through the process of defining your value proposition. Again using SiteWatcher as an example, it serves those who depend on their sites performing well. So as a result, SiteWatcher must position itself as a product that will guarantee the service can always report site faults. For other MVPs, identifying the ideal customer may be a lot more complex. You may have an array of potential clientele to aim your brand at. This is particularly where early in the process, perfection is not the aim and instead having your MVP provide a minimum set of features is key to understanding what the exact appeal is with your product. Where is your brand’s value being most recognised, where would more investment be best directed. Lastly if not most importantly, are your users having any issues and do they have any suggestions? This mindset goes against the approach of a few businesses, those who believe once they’ve struck gold in the value proposition stage, that the next step is making their product scalable.
If you haven’t yet given into the temptation of trying to make your product known by every second person, the last step is then to define your MVP’s functionality. How will you approach potential customers, the people who are most likely to be converted to followers of your brand, and peak their interest in the most cost-effective and pain-free manner. It’s something we stress in the podcast and it harkens back to the first point we’ve written. Except now you’re not just starting conversations with potential audiences, but how do you open transactions with your defined market.
Links to the episodes mentioned:
Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2W0O1y8_EQ