Don’t get it confused, imperfect does not mean the product is a terrible product. It just means that an MVP is made to be imperfect so that you can improve it in an iterative manner. As simple as this may read, it is extremely difficult for founders to go to market with an MVP because they think a perfect MVP is what they need to get PMF (product-market fit).
In as much as it seems like it is the right approach to building a product, it is not always the best approach. The core purpose of building an MVP is to attract early adopters and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. The best way to achieve this is not by building a perfect product, it is by building a product with just enough features for you to ascertain if your customers really care about the product you are trying to build and the pain points your product will address.
Anything you are doing that is extra and outside this scope is no longer an MVP. you are basically building a product that leaves no room or a very narrow room for getting customer feedback and iteration. This is one of the major reasons why startups fail. They build a solution without an existing problem then try to create a faux problem to suit that solution. – This leads them to begin to spend ridiculous budgets on marketing, hiring the wrong set of staff or overstaffing, acquiring technical debt which will eventually yield little or no results, then they scale prematurely and ultimately fail.
4 things every founder must understand before they build an MVP
1. Proper research: This can not be over-emphasized or underemphasized. Proper market research is the foundation of any successful product that you can think of right now. You need to test and validate the hypothesis that the solution you are providing is what your target market: Needs and what they are willing to pay for. There is no point in pouring money into building a product with no market validation. Therefore, you really need to know and understand your audience for you to build a product that solves a pain point the way they want it to be solved and ascertain how much they will be willing to pay for the service.
2. Ensure your MVP is valuable to your customers: A lot of startups disregard the “Minimum” in “Minimum viable product”. It is called minimum for a reason. You should not be focused on building a super product with a blizzard of features. Instead, you should be more concerned about building a product with minimum features that encompasses a complete customer experience. Also, don’t build too quickly and end up with a product that is poor and unusable. Your MVP needs to have quality code, proper design, content to provide a good overall user experience – not just a bunch of random features nobody cares about.
3. Solve one problem for one audience with your MVP: I have said this times without number to founders – An MVP is supposed to solve one problem effectively. The moment customers aren’t too sure about what problem your MVP is solving – they abandon the product immediately and move to an alternative product. If you launch and you don’t get the market validation you need, then you can go back to the drawing board. You have a product that you could easily alter, pivot, or scrap based on customer feedback without having to lose too much.
4. Use data to make informed decisions: There is something called “overbuilding”. Many startups are guilty of this. They want to build a super product that solves all the customer’s pain points into one product. – Hence why they add as many features as they can, most of which are irrelevant to their customers. Some of the data you should be looking out for is:
a. Feature request
b. Customer support data
c. App metrics
every feature you add to your product needs to solve a problem for your customers. This way you can avoid overbuilding and make sure the product accurately meets customer needs.
MVP has nothing to do with perfection. It has more to do with validating your hypothesis and iterating as much as you can till you find PMF. Understand that the imperfection is good for your startup because it allows you to get useful and valuable feedback from your customers, which then helps you make informed decisions on how to adjust your product till you accurately align with your customer need without losing so many resources.