10 common startup mistakes: #7 launch = a perfect solutionApril 13, 2018 by Lee Erickson
The seventh installment of a 10 post series on common startup mistakes. Mistake 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Half a product. Not a half-a@@ed product.
Those of us who prescribe to the lean startup philosophy are always searching for how to get product into the hands of our customers. The first step is creating a Minimal Viable Product (MVP).
An MVP is the smallest possible group of features that will work as a stand-alone product while still solving at least the “core” problem and providing value to your customer. This isn’t a poorly designed product, it’s just a portion of the total product you will ultimately deliver.
Done is better than perfect.
~ Sheryl Sandberg
It’s not about delivering features.
Nope. Success is about solving the customer’s problem.
Your solution should always be a work in progress and you won’t get it completely right the first time. When you see a rapid increase in number of people who use your product on a regular basis, recommending it to others, and asking you for more features, you are on the right track. If you don’t see that, then you need to re-evaluate what you are offering.
Paul Graham, of Y Combinator fame, suggests startups think about what they plan to do, identify a core that’s both (a) useful on its own and (b) something that can be incrementally expanded into the whole project, and then get that done as soon as possible – think 2 weeks.
But what do I build?
The key is to build a minimal product so you can learn fast. That’s the hard part. But there are some guidelines you can use:
- DO find the customer’s pain, then figure out 1 thing that would ease the pain even a little for your customer.
DON’T fall in the trap of equating the number of features or lines of code you’ve created with a measurement of progress. Features are a waste of time and resources if no one want them.
- DO ask yourself what you can get rid of and still add value.
DON’T build it just because you can. The questions isn’t “Can I build this?” It’s “Should I built this?”
- DO define what you’re trying to learn and be sure you are getting feedback from customers/users.
DON’T fall into the “vanity metrics” abyss where you’re measuring things that don’t add to your understanding of what is value to your customer.
- DO it.
DON’T wait till it’s perfect or has every possible feature.
Resources to check out:
There are a ton of tools, best practices, and processes that entrepreneurs can leverage to systematically de-risk and accelerate their businesses. Of course, no one set of tools will guarantee success, but here are some to check out:
- Making sense of MVP – and wny I prefer Earliest Testable/Usable/Lovable
- Get Real, by 37 Signals
- A Guide to Validating Product Ideas with Quick & Simple Experiments – specific example of testing an idea
- The Ultimate Guide to MVPs – Note this includes some smoke screen tests at the beginning of the reading.