See if Your Business Idea Has Legs With a Minimum Viable Product

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Businesses can quickly learn if their product idea is any good by developing a minimum viable product, or MVP, and letting the marketplace react to it. Learn what a minimum viable product is and how one can be deployed, and discover some methods of releasing the minimum viable product to the market.

What Is a Minimum Viable Product?

An MVP is the most basic, pared-down version of a product that can still be released into the marketplace. There are three very important characteristics of an MVP: it must have enough inherent value that people are willing to purchase it or use it, if the product is free; it must be clear to users what the future benefits of the product will be to retain them; and it must incorporate some sort of feedback loop to guide future development of the product. As Eric Ries, a consultant and writer on startups, states, “A minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Benefits of a Minimum Viable Product

Small businesses can have many uses for an MVP. One use is to test one or more hypotheses about the marketplace in a quick and inexpensive manner. Another use is to reduce wasted engineering hours. Since the product is in its basic form, the hours that would have been allocated to developing more advanced features can be utilized for other projects. MVPs can also serve as the basis for other products offered by the business. Perhaps some complementary software or hardware works perfectly with the MVP being deployed, and thus both can be released concurrently. Learning as much as possible about the customer base is another use for an MVP. A company developing a product is, perhaps without knowing, in a “build, measure, learn” loop that is constantly in motion. The MVP gets developed and deployed, customer usage and opinion data are collected and measured, and the company learns as much as possible from this data to iterate on the product and start the cycle over.

Creating and Deploying Your Minimum Viable Product

Once you decide on your MVP as defined by its parameters, all focus should be put on creating the product. When it is complete, ways to deploy it and gain exposure include landing pages, teaser videos, webinars, blog posts, crowdfunding campaigns, and social media marketing. Get the product into the hands of users as fast as possible and in any way necessary so you can start gathering user data. Keep developing the product. Add features that users want and remove features they dislike. Future versions of the product should evolve in a way that maximizes customer satisfaction. Whether your MVP is a software application, digital product, physical product, or service, after a few iterations, it might end up being something unexpected. However, if the users are ecstatic about it and it is profitable, you have managed the MVP process correctly.

References & Resources

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