Don’t be afraid
In my previous article I talked about the process of creating your own startup. The final step was to create an MVP or “Minimum Viable Product”. That phrase might trigger a different image for different people and perhaps you even have some idea of what it is I mean when I use that phrase. In this post I want to show you clearly what an MVP is and how you can build one using a simple process, minimum costs and minimum fuss. Perhaps you’re in a position where you know you need to create an MVP, but you’re afraid that it’s a hard process, you don’t know where to start and you think it will cost too much. Give me a chance to bust that myth for you and make it dead simple to actually do! Trust me, it works, I recently did it for my own startup, and in just 8 weeks we went from a vague idea, to an actual product that is on the market and building value every day.
Tried and tested
If you are reading this, you probably want to have your own startup some day or maybe you have already begun this journey and are looking for some specific advice about building an MVP. In my own case, I had more than 10 different ideas that failed at the validation phase of the startup building process and so were never pursued further, before I actually landed on something worth developing into an MVP (so, if you’re struggling to find an idea, take heart and keep going – you will eventually get where you want). What I did next, and what so many others recommend, is what I’ll describe in detail below, a step-by-step process to help you actually analyse and decide what is essential for your MVP and how to do it in the most effective, riskless way. A quick online search will reveal that there are lots of different approaches to building an MVP. I can’t claim that this is the perfect, best or only way. What I can say however, is that it definitely works and has proven to be efficient not only for me, but for many of our customers too.
Step by step guide to creating an MVP
It seems like this topic is very mysterious for a lot of people, but I want to show you that it is not hard and typically not expensive to build an MVP. The risk is still very small at this point, since you don’t have to invest a lot. So, how should you put together and combine all the thoughts you have about the idea you’ve become so passionate about? How can you understand what should be in the MVP and what should wait for future updates? Where do you actually go to build it? Let’s eat this elephant piece by piece and break down the process into sizeable chunks that you can easily digest:
Step 1 – Describe the main purpose of your idea
Write down the main purpose of your project, idea, app, system or startup. What will it exist for? What problem will it solve? What is the primary goal of this app (for instance)? Thinking about these things in your head is not enough, writing them down helps you to consider your project seriously and define it succinctly. If you can’t (or don’t want to) describe the main purpose of your idea (which should be a fairly easy step), you simply can’t expect to win with your project in the long run (there will be a lot of much harder challenges ahead)!
Step 2 – Pile up the ideas!
Once the primary goal is written, below that, write all of the different ideas you have for this app, no matter how crazy they may sound at this point. Write naturally, as they come out, without any specific order this will include absolutely everything you can think of about your app: functions, design, user flow, etc.
Step 3 – Define the essential
Re-read the main purpose and look at the list of ideas you wrote below it. Based on that list, decide what is the absolute minimum that the app needs to have to meet the primary purpose and be useful. Write “Phase 1” and put the list of minimum requirements there. Every other idea and thought you wrote goes toward the “Future updates” category, which is not essential for the MVP.
Step 4 – Count the cost
Share what you’ve written so far with a trusted person or company and find out what it would take to build that.
Step 5 – Wireframes before anything else
Start with wireframes and design before you get started with any development. Only once you have a clear and full picture of all of the screens, what the app will do and how it will work, should you proceed into development. If you get this wrong, and you head into development without clear wireframes (which is basically a clear vision of your product), no matter how well you’ve prepared everything else up to this stage, it will get messy and cause huge problems further down the road. What seems clear in your head when you start, suddenly becomes complicated and confusing in the course of the development process. No matter what objections you may hear from others, it’s an industry standard to have the wireframes and designs ready before starting development and anything that is an “industry standard” has a reason for being so…
Step 6 – Just do it!
Make sure you are happy with the flow (user journey) on the wireframes and how the app is going to look. Then start the implementation – build your idea into something which works well and adds value to other people’s lives.
That’s in short the process of building an MVP from a vague idea to a completed project that others can start to use and benefit from. As always, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding this or want to discuss ideas. We love new ideas and would be thrilled to hear what yours is!
Life lessons from the startup process
What’s really interesting to me about startups, is that the more I learn about the processes and principles of how to do it right, the more I see that these same approaches can be applied to so many other (non-digital) areas of life. For instance you can apply this same process to start a meetup group, learn a new profession, become a musician and so on…