Perhaps, the Lean Startup method (with an MVP idea at its core) is the best strategy for young companies today. Why? You are able to test your product in a real market without attracting huge resources. You have a good chance of building a base of early adopters who are really interested in your product. By analyzing feedback, you can adapt to innovation and market volatility. Yeah, when taking one look at this, it seems that creating an MVP can be compared to choosing the beginner level in a simple video game. But is it really so?
Well, here’s some news, life isn’t a fairytale. Although this method is really the most acceptable strategy for startups, it is still a difficult process that requires accuracy, caution, and luck. Therefore, when developing an MVP, inexperienced entrepreneurs often make key mistakes, which ultimately leave no chance for a startup to prosper.
In our article, we will talk about these mistakes, and try to explain how to avoid them.
Mistake 1: Failed problem statement
Stating a problem is the first step in the MVP development process. And even at this very stage, many entrepreneurs make a key mistake and state the issue inaccurately.
The problem defines a gap between the current and ideal state of things. Under the best-case scenario, the goal of your MVP, as well as your startup’s as a whole, should be to help users bridge this gap. You must ensure this with a minimum expenditure of your time and resources and with maximum benefit for users.
The incorrectly defined problem immediately brings the startup’s chances to shine to zero. When working on a non-existent or non-significant problem, you develop a solution that no one needs. Also, the poorly described issue slows down all processes of solution development. As a result, what should have been a quick solution turns into a lengthy process of wasting resources in vain.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the correct problem statement. This aspect should be carefully studied and discussed between all parties — stakeholders, users, investors, managers, etc. The famous method of “5 Whys?” will also help you identify the core problem of any process.
Mistake 2: Too many features
The very essence of the MVP lies in the absence of most features in your product. Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs strive to make their product ideal right from the start. This is fundamentally wrong. The MVP technique for startups differs from the process of launching a big business. You don’t study possible weak points and causes of user dissatisfaction before the launch. Instead, you immediately release a flexible, lean product to the market. This allows you to not only listen to real users but also monitor their behavior (actions are always more honest than words) and adapt to the market volatility.
A bulky product overloaded with features won’t let you do so. That is why the primary goal of any MVP is to concentrate on one but a crucial feature, which should solve the main problem with maximum benefit.
But the truth is that many entrepreneurs spend dozens of days discussing which feature to leave and which to remove. They try to immediately please the users as much as possible. You do not need this. Moreover, you are unlikely to succeed. Don’t try to create the perfect product, make a raw, simple but working problem-solving machine. If everything is done correctly, you will have the opportunity to add all the necessary features in the future.
Mistake 3: Poor feedback loops
This is the working cycle of any MVP: build-measure-learn-iterate. All these stages are interconnected, which means you won’t succeed in measuring if you haven’t built anything. Hence, you won’t learn if you haven’t measured. It is this feedback gathering that allows your startup to innovate, remain flexible and meet the needs of users. All this ultimately determines the success of your enterprise.
However, even a correctly designed and launched MVP is doomed to failure if you make a mistake in creating feedback loops. Users will voluntarily tell you how to complement and improve your product, so you should create the most favorable conditions for them.
For example, the unsorted feedback is just as harmful as a lack of it. Therefore, organizing, storing and processing user reviews should be your first priority. When collecting feedback, make sure that the user knows that their opinion has been heard, understood and accepted — this is important.
Mistake 4: Wrong team
In the end, it’s all about people. The right team accounts for 65% of your product’s success. However, as in all previous cases, a lot depends on you here. If you’ve started the MVP development, then opt for the smallest team of specialists. You will cut your time for hiring multiple people and simplify the process of communication between them.
This process is somewhat unique due to the fact that you cannot be completely sure whether the right person was hired or not. Therefore, here are a few universal rules on how to make your team smaller:
- One full-stack developer. Instead of hiring two or more specialists, who will be engaged in both the front-end and back-end processes, it is better to hire one highly qualified specialist. This will also remove the miscommunication factor, which is very common.
- Minimal development. Finally, it is better to abandon any coding in general. Remember Dropbox with their 2-minute video as an MVP? If the specifics of your product allow using such models, choose this strategy. You can also use Facebook groups, Instagram ads or whatever as your MVP.
There are more of them
I will dare to re-phrase the great Churchill: “MVP, perhaps, is the worst approach to launching a startup. Except for all the others that have been tried.” Great Britain’s Prime Minister spoke about democracy, but we can say so about the MVP technology too.
Yes, this strategy isn’t perfect, and yes, there are many traps that you can easily fall into. Therefore, what you see above describes only the most common early-stage mistakes. In fact, there are more of them and launching your startup isn’t strewn with roses.
And yet, for now, this is the most suitable way to start your business.