The Real MVP
Welcome back! Today, in the second part of our How to Build an Online Business guide, we’re going over taking your idea to an execution and creating an MVP that actually works for your audience.
You might have hundreds of good ideas, but how you make those ideas happen is exponentially more important.
If you’re building a new website for a clothing store with the goal of selling more clothes, there are thousands of things you could build to try and sell more clothes. You could allow people to share product photos on Facebook and Instagram, create built-in promotional codes, or design a login system to help your customers remember their favorite pieces of clothing.
These are all nice things to have, but they are likely not the core elements that make your online store work.
When you’re just starting out, it’s more important that your store allows people to browse products and pay for things. Without these functions being well-built, sharing product shots on Facebook and Instagram is useless.
When you have ideas of what to build, always ask yourself:
• “What could we make right now that would be the most valuable for our customers?”
• “What could we build that might prove one of the most important parts of our business concept at this time?”
Before putting a ton of time, money, and energy into your business, remember that your first job is to prove that the product you want to build solves a problem.
A product may have a ton of great features, but if those features don’t solve a real problem for people—well, they don’t mean jack.
That’s why, when you’re starting out with any idea, whether it’s your first or fiftieth, you should build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). In other words, start with the core features. Just enough to make it work and make the experience better than the other options available to your customers.
And how do you know what’s the most essential?
Well, it’s different for everyone, but the easiest way to determine what you can make at a bare minimum is to prove your product solves a problem.
Going even more minimal with your MVP
Sometimes you don’t even need to code or design anything to prove that the product you want to make solves a problem.
At first, you might just need to hop on the phone with a handful of potential customers or sketch out your idea for a website with pen and paper.
Another common tactic, called a Smoke Test, involves making a site or sign-up that explains what your product will be to gauge interest.
This could mean creating a one-page website that says what your product will do along with an email sign-up box. No actual product exists yet, but the goal is to see if any potential customers sign up for what you want to make before you spend time making it.
We see how successful products look today and sometimes forget that it took years of evolution to get to where they are.
Balancing product priorities doesn’t just end after your Minimum Viable Product is launched. It continues throughout the entire lifecycle of your product. Even when you have customers or you’re a well-established company, you still need to choose which things to build first and which ones should wait until later.
A Minimum Viable Product isn’t about making a bad first product. It’s about focusing on what’s most important and building that.
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