A minimum viable product (MVP) is significant for any startup. It allows startups to test their ideas, validate assumptions, and get customer feedback. Through feedback, they can understand the features customers love. This will help them know what to focus on before investing too much time and money into a full-scale product. An MVP helps a startup see the market’s response and strategize how to conquer it.
Challenges when creating an MVP
Although an MVP is essential in a startup journey, it comes with challenges. This hinders startups from developing an MVP for testing assumptions and gathering feedback. Some of the most common challenges include:
Finances are the biggest hindrances when it comes to creating an MVP. For an effective MVP, you need funds for user research to test and gather feedback. Product development is also expensive, even if it is a prototype.
It is common for startups to have limited resources when starting. Since most of them start bootstrapping before funding, they may need more support to have adequate staff.
Most of them may not afford to have enough developers, hence the need to outsource. This may make it challenging to create the appropriate MVP.
Lack of customer feedback
One of the main goals of an MVP is gathering feedback. If a startup does not get feedback, then it does not make sense to have the MVP. Unfortunately, many startups need help to get feedback from potential customers. Lack of feedback is due to a lack of understanding of their target market, limited access to potential customers, or lack of resources. With feedback, it is easier to confirm assumptions and improve the MVP.
Difficulty in prioritizing features
Many startups need the right priorities when it comes to features. They build too many features simultaneously other than starting with one feature. Since it is an MVP, having a few features is better so that you can test and know what customers love. With many features, it becomes complex and expensive. This makes it hard to test assumptions and gather feedback.
Difficulty in testing assumptions
Many startups need help in testing their assumptions. This depends on the triggers they use to make the assumptions. Some may need more resources for A/B testing or doing proper user research, making it hard to validate the assumptions.
As much as there are challenges when creating an MVP, dealing with them is crucial, as the benefits of having an MVP are worth it.
Some of the strategies and techniques startups can use to create an MVP with a limited budget include:
Most startup founders have the best intentions when they are developing a product. Most of them are to fill a certain void in the market. This may carry them away to create many features, some of which can be very expensive. When you have a limited budget, starting and building up is better. This is where the minimum viable features approach comes in. It means focusing on crucial features that will help you test assumptions and gather feedback. Once you identify the core functionality of your product, you can focus on it.
Many startups use the “Iceberg Model” to help them prioritize features. The model advocates separating your MVP’s must-have features from the non-essential ones. You can add the non-essential ones later as the product evolves.
“As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek.” Eric Ries
Leverage existing tools and technologies
Leveraging existing tools and tech is an excellent way of cutting expenses when creating an MVP. You can use open-source software in this case. You can also use pre-built templates and any owned resources to build your MVP faster and cheaper.
For example, you can use a pre-built template for your MVP’s user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) design. This can save you the time and money of creating a custom design from scratch.
You can also use open-source software for your MVP’s backend. Frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Laravel, and Django can help you build a robust and significant MVP without expensive custom development.
Optimize your team and resources
When starting an MVP, it makes sense to start with what you have, especially when your budget is tight. That means maximizing the skills your team has and the resources available.
For instance, if you have a full-stack developer on your team, you can leverage their skills to build a great MVP. This will save you the costs of hiring an external developer or outsourcing. Similarly, if you have a person who is good with design, you can optimize their skills for a great design other than hiring a UX/UI designer at an extra cost.
Use online tools and platforms
Online tools and platforms help a great deal when creating an MVP with a limited budget. With technology, there is a rise in the number of tools and platforms for prototyping, user testing, and customer feedback. The best part is that some tools, such as Figma, allow real-time collaboration, making design easy. Apart from Figma, InVision and Axure are also used in creating a prototype for your MVP. This helps test assumptions and gather feedback from potential customers without expensive development.
There is an increasing number of platforms for user testing and customer feedback. Platforms such as UserTesting, Validately, and UserZoom can help you gather customer feedback without expensive user research.
Test early and often
If you work with a limited budget, you are better off testing early and often. This means testing your MVP as soon as possible and gathering feedback from potential customers throughout the development process. When you test early, you can make iterations before they become expensive. When you take time to fix a problem, it becomes costly as the situation may escalate. Testing early and often helps you gather real-time feedback, helping you deliver what customers want. It will also help you get investor attention, which is crucial if you are looking for funding.
There are different approaches used in testing early and often. The main ones used are the lean startup approach and the phased approach.
The lean startup approach involves doing small incremental experiments to confirm your assumptions and gather feedback. Through that, you can identify what is working and fix any issues.
The phased approach is where you start with the basics and add in more features and functionality as you get feedback and validate assumptions. This helps you add essential features while keeping costs low.
When it comes to testing the demand of your MVP, you can use a landing page. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to gather feedback from potential customers before investing time and money into building a full-scale MVP. A landing page allows you to showcase your MVP, collect email addresses from interested customers, and track the number of visitors to your page.
Optimize for scalability
It makes no sense to create an MVP which is hard to scale. When it is hard to scale, it will also be more expensive. That means you should design an MVP that is easy to scale and can iterate as it grows. You can build scalability using non-scalable activities. When building your MVP, put into consideration the technology and architecture used. They should be easy to scale.
In product development, it is better to test assumptions in the early stages, even manually, to ensure it is on track. Although scalability is necessary, we should recognize the value customers get from the product. Other than focusing only on scalability, it would be best to focus on value so that you do not have a scalable product with no value.
Even though developing your MVP is the best option, it may only be viable with enough resources. Outsourcing is an excellent option, as you will get the job done at a cheaper cost.
An increasing number of software houses are up to the task. You can get a vast talent pool, reduce costs and get your MVP to market faster. When looking for software, check that they have the experience and reviews you need for your MVP.
“The important thing about outsourcing or global sourcing is that it becomes a very powerful tool to leverage talent, improve productivity and reduce work cycles.” – Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Limited.
Crowdfunding and incubators
Although crowdfunding has not been active for the past few years, it is a good option if you are tight on budget but still want to build an MVP. Through crowdfunding, you can raise funds for developing your MVP in exchange for shares or whatever you will decide.
Incubators provide startups with resources, mentorship, and funding to help them get their MVP to market. Both options can be a great way to get the financing and support you need to create an MVP with a limited budget.
Mistakes startups make when creating an MVP
Mistakes are expensive. They may eat up the available resources if you do not correct them. Suppose you can avoid them, the better. Mistakes can hamper the success of your MVP. Some of the common mistakes to avoid when building an MVP include the following:
Focusing too much on features
Although features are reasonable, you lose out when you focus too much on them. It would help if you focused more on the customer and their needs. As mentioned earlier, focusing on the features that count makes all the difference, as the goal is to test and get feedback.
Through Sulma & Sulma’s BuyerMind, you can get a comprehensive understanding of your customers. This knowledge is vital to align your product with the market.
Not focusing on the core functionality
It is common for startups to build many functionalities and focus on something other than the core. This may be overwhelming for users, especially if you want them to test it. Less is more; it is cheaper and easier to test and get feedback. BuyerMind can help you test and verify your users, helping you know the must-have functionality.
Not understanding customers
For any startup to succeed, it starts with understanding customer needs. After all, you are developing the product for the customers. Understanding customers starts with well-defined buyer personas. A buyer persona will give you a fictional visual representation of your customers. Once you define them well, it will be easier to identify their pain points and triggers. Since many startups need help, Sulma & Sulma has developed a platform to help define buyers and help you understand them more. They use data and insights to help you determine buyer personas and identify their triggers. They do an in depth definition of a buyer persona to ensure you do not miss any detail. Their comprehensiveness does not match ChatGpt or any other tools. This is essential in building a winning MVP.
Not testing with customers
As ridiculous as it sounds, some startups build an MVP based on assumptions and do not go ahead to test the hypotheses. If you cannot test your assumptions with real customers, then it does not make sense to build an MVP. If you do not test the assumptions, how will you know if they hold water? Startups can confirm their assumptions by testing to see if they fit the market’s needs. This will ensure they are a success. Through the Sulma & Sulma platform, startups can validate the assumptions they have made. The knowledge will help them know how to build a winning strategy. When it comes to real customers and buyer personas, whether you have a list of them or not, Sulma & Sulma can prepare them and test them for you.
Even though an MVP aims to test and iterate, it is crucial to keep scalability in mind. Many forget about this, yet the MVP will need to scale at some point. If it is not scalable, it will not meet the market’s needs on time.
How BuyerMind can help startups have the best MVP
As mentioned earlier, if you are working with a limited budget or resources, you need the right strategies to help you ace your MVP. Some of the ways BuyerMind can help you build your MVP include the following:
- Understand your customers deeply and the job they are hiring the product to do
- Build precise and detailed buyer personas
- Segment customers accordingly
- Identify the trigger and pain points of your target audience
- Test and confirm your hypothesis
- Gather feedback from potential customers
Building an MVP is not as complicated as assumed. All you need is the right strategy and alignment. You need careful planning, prioritization, and focus when working with a limited budget and resources. With the right priorities, you can leverage what you already have and build the best MVP. The best MVP leads to the best product relevant in the market.