Why you need to have a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

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An MVP is a product with just the basic set of features that allows you to release it to market. Do not miss the reasons why having it is key for your business.

It does not matter how solid your business plan is or how exhaustive the market research done before launching a product is. There will always be unforeseen surprises, things that you will not know until that precise moment where the final users of your product start using it.

How do you know if the product you are planning to launch will be useful for the final users? Will those potential customers use that product? Is that idea you have only good for you or for many people? The best way to identify and answer all those questions is to build and release a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to the market.

Many companies, when they decide to build a new product or software, still do not know how valuable building an MVP is, or they simply do not know what it is. That said, let’s begin by figuring out what this is all about.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

An MVP is a product with just the very basic, but necessary, set of features that allows a company to release it to market. Those options and features should be enough to capture the attention of early adopters and make your idea unique. In a few words, that MVP will be a simpler version of the final product, which will help you to validate your idea with the potential clients/users with the least amount of effort.

A Minimum Viable Product is the fastest way to go from an idea to a business. Lots of established companies you already know, such as AirBnb, Uber, Instagram, or Dropbox, among others, started once as MVPs and then evolved into what they are now. Those are just some examples that prove that you can start with an MVP and then evolve into something bigger and more complete.

An MVP helps you test your ideas in real market conditions before you create the full product. Here are other benefits you can get by building a Minimum Viable Product:

  • You can release the product to the market sooner.
  • It will allow you to save time and money by detecting risks at comparatively low costs.
  • It reduces time and implementation costs.
  • It helps you to avoid failures (and important capital losses).
  • As you work directly with actual clients, you can analyze their behaviors and preferences in order to improve the development of the product.
  • You obtain user feedback and analytical information to improve the result.
  • You can test the performance of the product, how fast it can be.
  • The demand can be evaluated.
  • You get very useful and realistic improvement ideas.
  • It allows you to evaluate your product’s functionalities. You get information about what works and what does not work.
  • You gain loyalty from your clients. They will value all the effort you are putting forth to make them happy.

Common mistakes when building an MVP

Although the idea and concept of a Minimum Viable Product looks pretty simple, many companies still misunderstand it. They cannot avoid looking for the perfect product, trying to include every single feature they have in mind and losing focus on the main value.

At the end, the product is overloaded with unnecessary features, and as it is by no means finished, it is never released to the market. Even if that ever happens, it is too late.

Adding unnecessary features to a product is one of the common errors. You need to focus on the core value of the product, things that contribute to the success of it, instead of wasting time and resources on options that no one would ever use.

Another common mistake when trying to reduce functionality as much as possible to get a Minimum Product is to cut key features. It is important to understand that when we talk about an elementary set of features, it does not mean that we can deliver an unfinished product or one that lacks functionality that would be expected or needed. It still needs to be a viable product, one that allows the users to use it completely.

The MVP must include minimum features, but it also must contain a complete customer experience. You should not present a poorly designed product to the market, because if you do that, the only thing you would achieve is turning customers away. It must have quality code and design and provide an even better user experience and not just a group of random features.

So, it must be Minimum, and it must be Viable. You cannot just pick one of those attributes.

Choosing the right features for your MVP

Let’s say the product you have in mind is one that allows users to get around faster than on foot. You cannot start creating an MVP that will someday in the future be a car. That MVP will not let the consumers of your product move to any place, and it will lack the core features and the main objective of the product you planned to build. This is clearly not the way to start.

You should start creating the simplest form of transportation that can allow users to move quickly. Then, once you achieve that, you can move forward and create a better version of it. You keep building, measuring, and learning until you finally get the car.

As you can see, with each iteration, you add important features to your product. The important part is to take into account that every release must be a product that can be used on its own. You cannot expect the users to wait a couple of releases until it becomes something useful and complete.

Another advantage of doing this is that if you cannot finish your product completely, getting the best version you had in mind (in this case a car), and you have to abruptly interrupt the construction (because you are running out of money, for example), you will still have something that is fully operational: a bicycle or motorcycle, for example.

To sum up

As we have reviewed, the Minimum Viable Product allows you to find out a lot about your idea and their users with very little effort and by maximizing your budget. You need to consider having an MVP because it gives you the opportunity to test your product with actual users in the real market and to obtain the necessary early feedback that makes the difference between success and failure.