Entrepreneurs

Minimum Viable Product: How To Help Clients Build Their MVP

By Maria Thimothy, Sr. Consultant at OneIMS, helps businesses grow by creating and capturing demand and managing and nurturing relationships.

Whether it is a startup hoping to break into the market or an existing business looking to expand, clients come to you to help them realize their vision. Often, their belief in what will work and what won’t is based in part on their experience and on many preconceived assumptions that the market may or may not validate. 

This is why helping a client develop a minimum viable product is a very important process that, if done correctly, can prevent a client from investing their time and money in a product or service that will not work. It could also help them find the next great business opportunity. Assuming that the business model has been positively assessed for financial viability in theory, below are a few points to keep in mind when helping clients identify their minimal viable product.

Identify The Core Function

Thinking big comes easy, but as we all know, the details are just as important. No matter where your client envisions their end product, they have to identify a starting point. For example, if they see their product serving an international market, can they define how that market looks nationally or even locally? You have to start somewhere and scale up. The best rule of thumb is to get your client to summarize their product’s core function in one sentence. This helps bring clarity and focus to their business purpose and establishes the foundation upon which the next steps are built.

If a client has difficulty defining the core function of their product or service, a few prompting questions will help. For example, what problem does your product solve? What gap in the market does it fill? Who does this product or service help? Moreover, it’s also important to tone down expectations and ensure your client is not creating a business that is too complicated or intangible given their time frame or budget.

Less Is More: Must-Haves Vs. Nice-To-Haves

Once the product’s core purpose is established, you can begin to determine the must-haves, or the essential building blocks of the MVP. In other words, what are the necessary requirements to make the core function of the product or service available to clients? In this case, less is more.

Let’s say the core purpose of a service is to help clients find personal trainers in their area. One of the must-haves to launching it may be a mobile-friendly website. You may be thinking that you must have a mobile app. At the starting point of building an MVP, having a mobile app will be considered a nice-to-have. Your goal is to test if the initial website-based model can prove successful in offering the product’s core purpose to clients. Once you have confirmed this through metrics and further refined the site based on testing and feedback, you will have an end product on which to base your app development.

The goal at the MVP stage is to avoid unnecessary costs that will not serve the product and instead concentrate resources on making the best quality must-haves. By building and testing an MVP, the client may find that the core purpose changes and that their end product varies from the initial vision. It is important to avoid developing nice-to-haves until you know that the must-haves function as intended.

Don’t Overthink It

Everyone wants their business ideas to succeed, and it is natural for clients to want to constantly refine ideas in order to make them “perfect.” But this is often counterproductive because it delays launching and testing your MVP. Rather than second-guess themselves, clients should rest assured that if they have accurately defined the product’s core purpose and developed and invested in MVP must-haves to meet industry standards, they have no reason to delay the launch.

The entire purpose of developing and launching an MVP is to get feedback and test whether a business model will work. If feedback is received, whether good or bad, that is a step in the right direction.

Putting It To The Test

Testing is the most important part of the MVP process — a real moment of truth. Whether the product is released to a smaller group of individuals or has moved past the alpha stage and is more widely launched, you will need to define how you will measure success and get relevant feedback. Metrics are only useful if they help determine if the product fulfills its core purpose and if that translates to profitability.

Here’s an example: High traffic figures on a website do not tell the whole story because they do not necessarily equate to a high number of transactions and thus profit. You will need another measurement to help complete the picture. Ultimately, you may find that many end users complain they cannot complete transactions due to the page timing out. Now you have concrete information about what to improve. Once you make the changes, the testing and feedback cycle begins again. 

Regardless of the business or the product a client or business is looking to create, it’s important to ensure they have clear expectations of what is viable and what isn’t. Trying to bite off more than you can chew will only lead to a subpar product. On the other hand, agonizing over every little aspect will mean you’ll never go to market.

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Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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