Many entrepreneurs have terrific business ideas but little expertise with the actual product. Take Zappos startup founder Tony Hsieh, who once revealed that he knew nothing about shoes when he came up with the business model for buying shoes online. In fact, he had never owned more than four pairs at one time. Hsieh was lucky to find a partner who understood shoes and how to build a minimum viable product (MVP) so his vision could become a reality.
Not all entrepreneurs are so lucky.
Whether your idea is next-generation software or an innovative way to deliver an existing service, you’re going to need help with software development at some point. It may be creating a mobile app or a web-based software. Whatever the product, you need a technical co-founder to help make it happen.
What is an MVP?
If you’ve had any experience with software development, you may share Albert Spector’s opinion when he compared developing software to building bridges:
“Bridges are normally built on-time, on-budget, and do not fall down. On the other hand, software never comes in on-time or on-budget. In addition, it always breaks down.”
It is best to start small and then build, given the complexity and volatility of software development. Making an MVP is the best and most reliable way to do this.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Instead of delivering a fully-featured application that fails to meet expectations, a minimum viable product deploys a working solution with what you’ve determined are the critical features users want to see.
- It confirms the viability of your business idea.
- For a startup, an MVP deployment reduces your financial risk and collects crucial information regarding customer acceptance.
This means that rather than spending a small fortune on developing bells and whistles that your end users may not want, you can quickly deliver a functional product to validate your proof of concept. The MVP development model creates a faster time-to-market for your vision and minimizes your financial risk .
How Do You Build an MVP?
Preparation is important when planning an MVP. Prepare yourself by asking yourself the following questions before you consider investing in an MVP:
- Have you completed a competitor analysis?
- What’s the overall market potential?
- What problem are you trying to solve or service do you want to provide for users?
Before building an MVP, it is important to have a good idea of what you are trying to accomplish as a business. Learning about similar offerings, what they do well, and where they can be improved upon will help you hone in on the features that you want to perfect in your own initial build
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to build an MVP.
Step 1: Determine minimum functionality.
As a business owner, you want everything about your product to be the best. You may initially be worried that an MVP will not meet your standards because it won’t have everything you think it should. The truth is that an MVP only needs to include the product’s core functionality to deliver the value proposition of your products. If it doesn’t, it’s important to edit the idea and start small to shift that design until it does.
Distinguishing between what the application needs to do and what you’d like it to do is the hardest part of building an MVP, because the more requirements, the longer it takes to complete. That means you may miss your optimum window and costs can quickly add up.
Step 2: Test your proof of concept.
Before going live with an MVP, run tests to ensure the concept operates as envisioned. It’s not about the color of the buttons or the actions available on a particular page or screen. Those are preferences your end-user will tell you. It’s about the user flow.
As part of the MVP development process, be sure to include data collection points. Keep in mind that you want to collect data once the new product is launched. During the proof of concept phase, you’re ensuring that the application works as designed.
Step 3: Deploy your MVP.
Finally, it’s time to deploy the MVP. A well-thought-out MVP will tell you which additional features your target audience wants, and will identify the functionality customers rarely use. It can tell you if the product is directing your users to the pages or functions you want. For example, is your checkout page minimizing cart abandonment and creating a positive user experience?
Step 4: Collect the data.
Without data, you aren’t making decisions. You are guessing. That’s a fundamental component of the MVP method:
- Collect information about your product from people using it.
- See which added functionalities end-users are looking for.
- Analyze the data to determine if the product is meeting your key performance indicators (KPIs).
From the MVP performance, you learn what needs to be added to the next MVP product development cycle.
Step 5: Revise, redeploy, repeat.
An MVP works well in an agile environment where incremental enhancements are delivered frequently. The more traditional waterfall approach would add as much functionality as possible before redeploying the solution. This method takes longer to deliver and increases the odds that your users will find another company while waiting for you to deliver changes.
Add the product ideas generated by your customers to your list of desired features. Then, adjust the priorities and discuss with developers on the best order in which to add new features. Together you should decide what will be included in the next deployment. Now, repeat steps two through five until you have a fully-featured product.
How Much Does an MVP Cost?
Three factors — time, functionality, and budget — impact the cost to build a successful MVP. Typically, the sooner you want a solution or the more functionality you need, the more resources are required. At the same time, the right technical partner will work with you to find an appropriate solution if budget is the controlling factor.
At YourCTO, we build MVPs because we know it is a cost-effective way to get your idea off the ground. It can save time and bring you closer to your long-term goals. If you’re looking for a technological partner you can trust, contact us to discuss how we can build an MVP that can turn your product idea into a reality.