Dream big, start small. In the business world, it’s sometimes best to play it safe by beginning with the bare essentials. That’s where a minimal viable product (MVP) comes in. This article examines 5 ways that MVPs can help save your business, brand, or other creative endeavors valuable time and money.
What is a Minimal Viable Product?
An MVP is a type of product or service with absolute minimal features or functions to make it usable in the market and able to solve a core problem. The product is then used by early adopters as a means of supplying valuable feedback which can then be used for product development, re-designs, and innovation. An MVP can be thought of as a prototype, or rough draft. Assessments from early users help steer decisions for marketing, re-evaluating costs, or dropping the produce or service altogether.
Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have previously stated the companies began as MVPs, demonstrating the strategy effective. The two are now amongst the most popular platforms on the internet due in large part to the tailoring of their services based on market needs.
Purpose of an MVP
The key foundation of an MVP is to gather and accumulate feedback in order to better design or build upon a product without wasting valuable time and resources. For example, when utilizing an MVP early customers’ feedback can reduce money spent on engineering and design simply because the wants and needs of the consumer are immediately made apparent.
The approach minimizes the risk of building a product that nobody wants to buy while heightening early-stage feedback and information from the consumer. By starting from an MVP, companies can simultaneously test their place in the market and operate at minimum costs.
As a leading cause of product failure is entering into a market that addresses no one’s needs, an MVP can also act as a market demand research tool, guiding decisions for current as well as future projects.
Benefits of an MVP
In fierce business environments, companies must take advantage of new and innovative strategies to stay competitive. An MVP is an ideal approach to maximize the value of a product while saving on costs and structuring your product around market needs. Still, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, as MVPs offer several other benefits and advantages.
First, by streamlining the testing and development process, An MVP approach can help secure funding and backings from stakeholders. A product whose market validity has been proven through the use of an MVP can more easily gain the trust of investors. Next, feedback from users can help a team navigate through marketing decisions and monetization strategies. In the context of mobile app development, for example, an MVP can help decide whether the service should require in-app purchases or be priced per download.
Perhaps the most advantageous perk of an MVP is that it typically comes with low costs. The essential function of the strategy is to optimize value while staying economical. By beginning your project with a subdued approach, startup costs can be reduced immensely; not to mention the added benefits of an MVP providing insight into market trends.
What follows are five more ways that an MVP can save you time and money.
#1 Know Your Users’ Insight Better
An MVP might not be your first approach to selling a product, but its ability to both reduce costs and act as a market analysis tool give it a unique set of advantages. The strategy is becoming increasingly popular in the tech world due to its ability to gain customer insight quickly and effectively.
Imagine you’re part of a mobile app development team eager to launch a new application in a target niche for a specific audience. Rather than spending time and resources to release the completed version right out of testing, you opt for a scaled-down version that provides users an answer to their core problem. This version comes in the form of a ‘rough draft’ of the app that can then be manipulated based on actual user data and feedback. This makes determining the app’s viability simple and renders it easy to evolve the application based on the user’s insight. This is especially advantageous to budget start-ups hoping to decrease costs and heighten value.
Consider Uber, AirBnB, and Spotify. All three companies utilized the MVP approached to fine-tune their business and adjust their services to most perfectly match user needs. Some companies have even altered their idea completely. The photograph-sharing platform Instagram began as a mobile check-in app before developers pivoted and concentrated on photos. All of this was achieved from an MVP, with heavy reliance on customer insight, feedback, and data to evolve and grow their products.
#2 Focus on Your Core Hypothesis
The whole idea of an MVP is based on the scientific principle of testing a hypothesis. Just as humans first sent primates into space prior to blasting off themselves, an MVP tests your product prior to launching it into the marketplace.
MVPs are used to test assumptions and validate ideas. Pretend you’re an app developer and you’ve just finished developing a unique travel app aimed at providing a service to frequent travelers. Let’s say you really believe in the idea. Rather than placing your eggs in one basket - or so the saying goes - an MVP allows you to test your core hypothesis. How did the users react? Were the assumptions validated in the marketplace? Were there usability issues? From here you have insight into the next step and can leverage this information to re-evaluate scope and direction, among other valuable advantages.
This approach works perfectly for entrepreneurs and start-ups who understand the potential consequences of entering into a flooded market or wasting time and money on concepts or design elements just to have them rejected by consumers. If an idea fails, there is always another hypothesis to test and assess.
#3 Avoid The ‘Perfect Business Plan’
Precious time and resources can be wasted in the planning stages of product design. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of fine details, scope, deadlines, and objectives. While some organizations accept nothing less than their initial visions when launching a product, an MVP allows the builder to let the market steer the decision-making process.
This can prove difficult for some startups. Businesses and goal-oriented individuals might be hesitant to stray away from their comprehensive plan of action, and might find themselves uncertain of abandoning their perfect business plan. After all, starting from an MVP might mean deserting grand ideas in lieu of a bare-boned vision of the service or prototyped product. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For example, a formal and well-thought-through business plan might not be the best use of resources if you come to discover your product is rejected by the market. Of course, product failure can happen for any reason, or no reason at all. An MVP simply reduces possible risks and loss of time and resources by testing the waters, so to speak.
In return, money and time can be saved considering the business plan includes an MVP from its inception. The MVP approach still reaches goals, objectives, and valuable insight for future growth, but can drastically alter one’s vision of their mode business plan. While not for all, beginning with an MVP provides the opportunity to expand in new and exciting markets. However, it also might mean bidding farewell to your grand business plan.
#4 Avoid the “We Need This Too” Trap
Imagine your mobile development team is researching and designing an innovative and trendy food delivery app with aspirations of quickly making your mark in the industry. Part of your team desires a vintage user interface, while the other half of the team supports a sleek minimalistic design. Perhaps one faction opposes feature X, while the other disagrees. What if these difficulties were somehow with a client? Now imagine the time it could possibly take talking through the various designs, discussing pros and cons, and coming to an agreement.
Of course one could apply any situation here, but the underlining lesson is that decision-making takes time.
An MVP reduces the time involved in the decision-making process by essentially automating it through feedback from users. When assessments are given directly from users, designers can avoid adding costly and time-consuming features.
While a trendy feature might seem like a must to include in your project, users might find it redundant. Beginning with an MVP can guarantee you insight into whether or not the function is needed, steering you clear from falling into the trap of ‘we need this too.’
#5 Makes Testing Products Easy
During days long past the traditional way of testing a product might involve sitting around a table unaware of the product’s functionality or fate, and tinkering through the design and development process until testing begins. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it is essentially the same as throwing pasta at the wall and hoping it sticks. Sure, your product might be the perfect solution to a problem’s needs in your head, but its ultimate fate lays in the hands of the market. This approach has undoubtedly led to success and product innovation. However, since the goal of testing is to provide the market with a superior product in a timely manner, other testing options might prove more viable.
A cornerstone of starting your project with an MVP is to gain valuable insights into the needs and wants of the market while staying as economical as possible. For example, starting from an MVP in the digital world can present the start-up with quick and easy product validation. Testing a product’s validity through the use of an MVP can help authenticate the design’s functionality and expected outcomes. Through the use of an MVP, testing can be streamlined, however, goals and objectives should be flexible.
Remember to dream big, but start small. Starting from an MVP is recommended to those wanting to quickly maximize value and save time and money. MVPs offer an array of advantages and can help your business or start-up find potential business opportunities rather than entering into a market with no demand for your service.