To people like us and many others, the thought of releasing a product or service, that is in our minds, incomplete may seem like the worst thing imaginable. Many of our students feel the same way and we need to show them how to not let good be the enemy of great when starting out with our businesses.

For all the teachers out there. Think of your lessons from this past year. Or even better think back to when you first started teaching. How many of us went way above and beyond in designing a lesson, only for it to get about the same reaction as if you had just presented with no resources from the front of the room? Sometimes more is not better. Sometimes we need to start with the basics and then learn as we go what strategies will get our students excited.

When I first heard about the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, I have to admit I was a super skeptic. A MVP version of your product or service means you are going to put the more bare bones, functional version out there for your market. The perfectionist in your will be crying at the thought of this unpolished representation of your dream, but it doesn’t end there.

Rather than adding in tons of features and spending a lot of time on the packaging in the beginning, the MVP approach saves you a ton of time and money by letting your market see the core of your vision and then give you honest feedback about it. In the beginning you will only be dealing with customers who are interested in taking a chance on new and unknown products. We call these people the ‘Early Adopters’. An Early Adopter will try anything out because they want to be on the edge of new things that are coming out. They are a small percentage of your target market overall. What is great is they will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and what features they would like to see added.

This last part is key! Rather than you adding in all these extra features and touches on your initial release, starting with bare bones and then asking the customer what they want to see added allows you to add the specific features that will give value to your product. No one wants to pay for features that they don’t need or desire. If you spend time and money on things that your customer doesn’t want then you will either:

  • Not be able to sell it
  • Not be able to sell it at the higher price you expected to given the added features
  • End up “fixing” all of your products to make them sellable.

All of these options are not what you want in your Simple StartUp. We want to start quick and cheap businesses, which can grow organically using the profits from the first few sales. Starting with an MVP allows you to get some quick sales, and then reiterate your product or service to be exactly what the customer wants. This allows you to charge a higher price too since you are providing the extras that your market actually desires and is willing to pay more for!

What are some examples of MVP’s that you have done in your own business or you’ve seen in your students’ businesses? Share your examples with our Facebook Community.

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