#3 How to Identify your MVP

March 25, 2024

How to Identify your MVP

Today, I will explain how to identify your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Learning how to define the simplest form of your product that directly addresses your customers' unmet needs is not only a crucial step for honing in on the core problem you're solving but also mitigates risks by avoiding unnecessary work. An MVP approach allows you to learn the most by doing the least.

For example, try a crowdfunding campaign to gauge interest if you're launching a new product instead of investing in manufacturing.

Identifying an MVP can lead to valuable insights, save resources, and significantly increase your product's chances of success.

Unfortunately, many aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses fail to effectively leverage the concept of an MVP. I, too, fell victim to this, as I spoke about in my last email. 

Ignoring building an MVP often results from misunderstandings about what is success, fear of releasing an imperfect product, or simply a lack of understanding of the MVP's value.

Fear of Imperfection

We don't pursue an MVP because we fear presenting an imperfect or incomplete product to the market. This fear can hinder decision-making and delay progress.

Reason #1: Overcomplicating the Solution

Many mistakenly believe our product must address every conceivable need from the start, leading to overly complex and bloated initial offerings.

Reason #2: Underestimating Customer Feedback

We underestimate how valuable early customer feedback can be, even from a basic product version. This feedback is essential for iterative development and refinement.

Reason #3: Resource Misallocation

Resources are often allocated to developing nice-to-have features that are not crucial for the initial launch, draining budgets and extending timelines unnecessarily.

Reason #4: Lack of Vision Clarity

Without a clear vision of our problem, we can't understand what our MVP should be, leading to misdirection and confusion.

Despite these challenges, there is hope. I will explain how you can overcome these obstacles and successfully identify and develop your MVP.

Step 1: Identify Customer Pain Points and Unmet Needs

Conduct Research and Gather Feedback

The first step in identifying your MVP involves understanding your target audience's needs and pain points. This requires thorough market research, including surveys, interviews, and analysis of existing solutions. The goal is to uncover the real problems your potential customers face and the solutions they seek.

Analyze Competitors

Examine what competitors in your space are offering. Identify gaps in their solutions or areas where customer satisfaction could be improved. This analysis can highlight opportunities for your MVP to provide unique value.

Prioritize Core Problems

From your research, list the most critical problems your target audience faces. Prioritize these problems based on their frequency, the intensity of the customer's pain, and your solution's potential to effectively address them. I dive deeper in a previous email (link) about identifying the problems.

Step 2: Define Your Value Proposition

Distill Core Features

Based on the prioritized customer needs, define a set of core features your product must have to address these needs effectively. These features are the essence of your MVP; they solve the primary problem without the clutter of additional functionalities.

Focus on Differentiation

Identify what will make your MVP stand out from existing solutions. This could be an innovative feature, a unique customer experience, or a novel approach to a common problem. Your value proposition should clearly articulate why customers should choose your MVP over other options.

Simplify Your Solution

Resist the temptation to add more features in the initial phase. A focused and straightforward solution makes development more manageable and ensures clarity for your customer. Your MVP should offer a simple, direct way to solve the customer's problem.

Step 3: Leverage Lean Canvas for MVP Planning

Map Out Your MVP on a Lean Canvas

The Lean Canvas is a one-page business plan template that helps you deconstruct your startup idea into its fundamental assumptions. Use it to map out your MVP by filling in components such as the problem, solution, key metrics, and unique value proposition. This high-level overview can provide clarity and focus. startuptools generates this for free. Log in to see yours. 

Identify and Address the Riskiest Parts of Your Canvas

Look for the segments of your Lean Canvas that represent the biggest risks to your MVP's success — these often relate to customer problems, solutions, and channels. Planning to address these risky areas first can significantly impact your MVP's development direction.

Iterate Based on Feedback

As you validate or invalidate assumptions, revisit your Lean Canvas to make adjustments. This iterative process helps continually refine your MVP, ensuring it remains aligned with customer needs and market opportunities.

By adopting one (or a combination) of these approaches for Step 3, you deepen the identification process for your MVP, ensure that it meets the minimum criteria for viability, and position your product for greater market success.

Success Story

In honor of Women's History Month - I’ll continue highlighting women founders and entrepreneurs.

Weili Dai - Co-founder of Marvell Technology Group: Dai is one of the few women to have co-founded a global semiconductor company. Marvell Technology Group has become a giant in its field, supplying chips for a wide array of electronic devices, demonstrating Dai's profound impact on the tech industry.

Subscribe to happymonday
Every Monday, we bring you insights, learnings, and actionable resources tailored to help you navigate the path from ideation to launch.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
✌ We promise not to spam!