When building your startup, you shouldn’t immediately dive into developing your product and incorporating all the features that you have dreamed up. You first build a version with its core features to validate with early adopters.
In short; you have to create your MVP = Minimum Viable Product. Your MVP will help you validate your product so you could decide whether or not it’s worth pursuing. It will help you figure out the things to add, remove or modify down the line.
While this may sound confusing, it can definitely be done – here are 5 simple tips to figuring out what your MVP should be.
1. Know your user
Knowing your target audience is crucial to determining the features of your MVP. They are the people meant to purchase and use your product. You should at least know four major components of your target demographic: age, tech-savviness, their frustrations and their goals. Learning these things is important because it will help you understand what features to prioritize and gear them towards fulfilling your audience’s needs.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating user personas. Put yourself in the shoes of the user. Since you’re only developing your MVP, you should create no more than 1 to 2.
Then ask yourself: Who is this person? What are their specific goals? Do they know how to use a computer or a smartphone properly? How can my product make their life better?
2. Keep it simple
Building an MVP can be overwhelming if you have a plethora of features you want to incorporate in your product. In this process, you have to remember one important thing – your MVP is all about validating a need, not the full execution of a big idea.
While it is, in part, putting a test on your concept, it is ultimately about discovering the value of your product to your audience and if it solves their needs.
Leave out any unnecessary features that your prototype has. It’s in the name. Minimum Viable Product, with minimum, being the operative word. Know your priorities and stick to them. Leave all your other ideas for the next iterations and just focus on developing the core functionalities of your product while still maintaining value.
Don’t make it so basic that it falls below the bar, but don’t make it too complicated either that it becomes confusing to the user.
3. Have mid-term and long-term goals
Aside from developing your MVP, you should also at least have an idea of your mid-term and long-term goals. By doing this, you ensure the longevity of your business. It is important to have a roadmap that entails where you want to go. Think about your plans after launching your MVP. What’s your next move? How would you scale your business? How would you retain customers? What happens after that? As early as now, it’s best to have at least a rough plan on what to do next. But remember to make it a point to separate your short and mid/long-term goals from one another. This will keep your short term goals achievable and less daunting.
4. Know your competition
In the startup game, it is inevitable that you have competitors. Study their product and know what works and doesn’t work for them and use it to your advantage. But don’t concentrate only on one-upping them, focus on being a strong contender of value to your customers. Don’t stress about your competitors because what matters is your users. If you build a product good enough for your users, they won’t look at anything else. They will be loyal to you.
5. Know the value of your product and why it will sell
Market viability is the most crucial of all. It doesn’t matter how well-designed your product is. If it doesn’t appeal to the audience, then it is doomed to fail. The key to this? Research and validation. Your MVP has to fill in a gap that the market lacks (or create a solution significantly better than existing ones), and it has to solve a problem or create a want that people has. Doing your user research will help a great deal in determining what your users need to have, which is ultimately what your product needs to be.
Building the MVP for you startup is no easy feat, but the process can be much more manageable if you know how to prioritize and to delegate what to build. Share with us your thoughts at @melewi. What worked / didn’t work for your business?