10 common startup mistakes: #7 launch = a perfect solution

April 13, 2018 by Lee Erickson
The seventh installment of a 10 post series on common startup mistakes. Mistake 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?”
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

COMING UP: MISTAKE #8…what I think = the facts

* Main photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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