The goal of an MVP for your startup should be to create a product that can be introduced to the market quickly to create awareness and attract early adopters to your vision. If you are lucky you may attract some early investors during the MVP process.
1. Build your MVP so it can scale.
So many businesses think of the MVP as a simple version of a much bigger product. The biggest mistake you can make is not adding automation and a good architecture that can scale with customer growth. Always think bigger when designing your ability to scale. With today’s cloud computing pay as you go modals you can plan for large architectural deploys while keeping your cost low.
2. Faking it before making it.
Don’t build expensive features you don’t know if your customers want. This can cost you time to market and increase your budget. If you have to manually complete processes in the background to test functionality don’t be afraid to do so. When its time to automate you want to be able to build new functionality and pivot to the market needs fast so make sure you plan for automation in advance.
3. Don’t build your MVP with a final product in mind.
Even though many startups struggle to launch in the early stages, there are countless of examples where your early adopters really drive the business. Make sure you are listening to their feedback and be willing to make changes that the market asks for.
4. Don’t under estimate the power of mobile.
When building your MVP regardless of the platform, build with tablets and smartphones in mind. Too many businesses limit their functionality on Desktop just to get the product out the door. This is a mistake; a huge portion of your business will come from mobile and you must be ready. Even if your application is desktop heavy you will still attract much more awareness to your application if you have a mobile first mentality.
5. Sell what your MVP can do, not what it will do.
Business will often sell a dream application but, there is limited functionality. This is extremely frustrating to investors and more importantly to your customers. Stay honest about your application.
6. Allow customers to drive your road map.
Make sure to add areas in your MVP to capture customer behavior, reviews, and suggestions. Listen to the industry needs and prepare to pivot immediately once you understand how your customers would like to use the application.
7. Try to solve a problem.
Focus the application to solve an immediate need in your market.
8. Don’t go crazy with external APIs.
Many startups are joining the API bandwagon to created added value to their application. Even though adding external APIs to your application is great for adding login options, maps, and external data. Remember those APIs exist because there is already a company with strength in that industry. Your application should have a strong focus on what you are doing and promoting features from third party APIS such as maps, weather, social feeds, and more, just clouds your products value. Stick to your core.
9. Hire a Business Analyst.
Before you begin to build your MVP hire a Business Analyst. These individuals or companies are trained in the art of building applications and requirements which will be more specific to your industry and core functionality. Having someone like this in your corner will help you get to market faster with a better MVP. If you are struggling with your developers on how to build your MVP, good chance is you need a Business Analyst.
10. Go Agile.
Beware of the fixed price development project bids when creating your MVP. Too many companies will go out and negotiate a full price for their MVP. Since an MVP will be an ever evolving project even after its launch it is best to negotiate an hourly price with your development company. Too many development companies will start strong on a fixed price project but start to taper down once you get past the honeymoon stage. You need a partner that will go the distance with you.
11. Have proper representation.
If you are starting a new application company, make sure you have someone in your corner with a strong IT background. Surprisingly, most tech investors have a solid understanding of technology and they will want you to explain the core application.
12. Cheaper is not always better.
Creating an MVP because its cheaper than creating the full application is not a good reason. MVPs are meant to test the market and attract and learn from early adopters. Make sure you have the capital to stay try to your vision.