Mistakes to Avoid While Building a MVP

We all know the history of the MVP. The concept of MVP, an offshoot of the Lean Startups movement, was popularized by Eric Ries-a consultant and writer on startups. The minimum viable product (MVP) is a development method in which a new product is developed with just enough features to satisfy the initial adopters. The final, comprehensive set of features is only planned and developed after analyzing feedback from the product’s early users. This feedback is gathered often, and product versions are released often.

In its essence, a minimum viable product is the most trimmed down version of a product that is still suitable for release. In simple words, the MVP has sufficient value for people to adopt or buy it initially. A key characteristic is that it displays promising future benefits to retain initial adopters. A vital component of the plan is that it renders a feedback loop to support future development.

An obvious drawback or rather difficulty with this development methodology is that it assumes that the initial adopters can visualize the outlook of the final product and give the required feedback to help developers progress.

Mistakes to Avoid While Building a MVP

Have you wondered, why the concept of an MVP was introduced in the first place? Well, because in a startup environment, mistakes are the norm. In fact, studies show that nine out of ten startups fail. To get around this failure rate, many startups began to build a Minimum Viable Product. The aim was to embrace the fact that they would fail but to fail fast and fail often so that they still had resources to recover.

However, Several Startups are facing failure despite going the MVP route. Why?

This happens because when companies expose an MVP to a test audience, they often get distracted. They lose sight of the end objective. Sometimes, the immediacy of the task of making the next release successful draws them away from the larger objective of pursuing a more significant market segment. The big picture may call for them to change direction or to design an unusual feature. This could lead to cost-intensive rework, loss of focus, and, in turn, a failed product.

To Avoid Failure and Make the Most of Your Minimum Viable Product, Here are a Few Mistakes to Avoid While Building an MVP.

  1. Targeting the Masses:
  2. You cannot begin your development with the mindset that your product is something that everyone needs. You must design your product in a way that it focuses on a narrow market segment that will benefit the most from using your product immediately. If you try to create a one-size-fits-all type of product, you will not be able to do anything competently.
    Facebook is a perfect example of an organization avoiding this trap. While yes, today, Facebook is a platform that everyone uses; they didn’t start this way. Their initial focus was on college students. By customizing their product for a narrow segment, Facebook managed to build a better and more focused platform. This enabled them to expand later.

  3. Overtaxing the Initial Users:
  4. While seeking feedback, too often, companies make the mistake of asking too many questions and over-taxing the users. However, on the flipside, even a deficit of information from the users is a drawback. Companies are often stuck in the limbo of asking too few questions to ensure maximum participation but end up getting the feedback they can’t use because it is not specific or actionable enough. Therefore, it is essential to make the testing process as user-friendly as possible and create user surveys that ask detailed yet relevant questions.

  5. Choosing the Wrong Features:
  6. The primary purpose of an MVP is to test the idea before proceeding to complete development. An ideal MVP has only a few core functionalities that offer the end-users an understanding of the product and the issues it resolves. The selection of features is a crucial process in the development of an MVP. Too many companies spend a significant amount of time and budget in polishing the design and adding more and more features to impress the audience.
    The downside of this is that after spending the most vital part of a project budget on building an over-designed MVP the product idea may be rejected by the audience. On the other end of the spectrum, some companies adopt the ultra-minimalist approach and ignore the viability aspect of the product. Since their focus is on reducing a set of features, they overlook the elements that make their product unique and useful for users. The product fails to find favor with the users because it will not deliver sufficient meaningful value.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that MVPs tend to get enormous amounts of data and ideas from customers.  Much of that data may suggest changes that may not be suitable. While yes, these ideas and suggestions are great to broaden your horizon, it may be wiser to avoid making significant adjustments immediately. If you expand too quickly you may not be able to gauge which features are creating a positive impact and which are stirring a negative response.
Do remember, there will be plenty of time to progress into new directions once you are confident that your product is well-designed and that it meets the needs of your core clientele.

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