jumptotop

Start with the Minimum Viable Product

Your startup will never be perfect

Author: Zach Dilworth Sunday December 15, 2019
Disclaimer: By reading this article, you are agreeing to the terms of this disclaimer.

Start with what you’ve got

You don’t set out to be mediocre nor do you expect to have an average product or service offering. As long as your product or service adds value worth paying for by your customers, you can charge for it. It may not be the finalized version that you envisioned, but it’s something that can be perfected over time. Gain traction with your product and business while continually prioritizing your list of changes/updates. Your side gig product or service offering will evolve over time, it’s not going to be an overnight success. When thinking of the future state vision of your product or service, put together the list of things that need to happen in order for your vision to become a reality.

Organize & Prioritize

Put together a list of changes or updates needed. Next to it, write the level of effort from 1 to 10, and next to that, place the cost of that change. Next, add the level of urgency beside it. Sort the list by urgency and organize which ones fit in your budget. Also, based on the level of effort, add a few quick wins to this month’s updates. Quick wins keep you on track and help you stay motivated even when business isn’t going good. Then, based on your monthly budget, build a project plan for each month. When you add to it, remember to prioritize each month. This helps your business become agile with the ability to change to market demands.

Change/Update

Level of Effort

Cost of Change

Urgency

Website Mobile Responsiveness

6

$100-500

Medium

Social Media – Linked IN Page

2

$10-50

Low

Video Intro

9

10-20 hours (time)

Low

Update blog layout

5

$100

Medium to high

Update affiliate links

2

5

Medium

Integrate accounting systems

7

$300

Low

If it’s a 6-month project and you’ve only been in business for less than a year; perhaps, that’s a future state plan, not an immediate need.

Determine Nice to Have’s VS Must-Haves

Some tasks may seem more important than others, but if it doesn’t add value to your customers, then it’s likely a nice to have. Look through your list and think about how each item will add value to your customers or improve their overall customer experience. Add a check for Must Have’s and prioritize the items that add value to customers. Integrating our accounting systems would be great but that adds zero value to our customers; instead, it just makes things a little easier for operations and accounting.

Strive for perfection – Overtime

Your product will never be perfect. This one is important – your product or service offering will never be absolutely flawless in the minds of your customers. However, by providing a great customer experience overall, your product will stand out in the customers’ minds. Create an open channel of communication from your customers so you’ll learn what is important to them.

An Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

Successful entrepreneurs create a product that solves a problem, and the solution to the problem is worth paying for. Sometimes the entrepreneurs become so deeply entrenched in the bells and whistles of their solution that they lose sight of the actual value that customers are willing to pay for. When you’re first starting out, focus on the minimum viable product and obtain feedback from customers about features they would be willing to pay for in your next release. By focusing on features that customers are willing to pay for, you’ll be able to increase the price as an added value; whereas, if you add features that you think would be cool but customers aren’t willing to pay for them, then you’re likely to charge the same price for the new version of your product. This may not be a bad thing if you’re trying to improve the quality of your service.

Perfection is but a Dream

Your website will never be perfect. We’ve been doing this for almost 7 months & we are an exclusively online business, yet our website could use a major facelift. However, take things in chunks. Focus on your plan. When things need to be updated, make the changes – but it’s not necessary to get to perfection since perfection is an ongoing pursuit. Even when you feel satisfied with your website, it might not resonate with your end-users, hence – it’s important to start with the minimum viable product so you can make adjustments based on the feedback received from customers.

Side Gig’s Example

Take this site, for example, we are a group of marketing and entrepreneurial professionals, yet we don’t have any marketing automation set up. It’s not ideal, but it’s not needed just yet so we choose to focus our efforts on these blogs. We have a laundry list of updates for the website to improve the user experience, but they take time away from the things that keep us in business. Hence, it’s all about compromise.

Make Mistakes

Aim high to be the best, but don’t get down if you make a mistake. Mistakes are not failures – mistakes are needed to help us learn and evolve our products and services. Hopefully, by starting with the minimum viable product, your mistakes are not too costly.

Work with what you have

Look at this website. There are hundreds of things that we don’t like about it, but for now, it’s functional. Avoid spending hundreds or even thousands of things that will likely need more changes in the future. Instead, focus on adding value to your customers and improving their overall experience.