“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the possible.” Recent words overheard from a television broadcast, that are an adaptation of an idea contributed to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Confucius’ theory was “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” In today’s business terms, perhaps this is best represented by the concept of “MVP”, or minimum viable product. Let’s unpack this concept as it is something that entrepreneurs may not understand, and also find it hard to implement in their go-to-market strategy.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of MVP, it is in fact your own flawed diamond (product or service etc.) that serves as your minimum threshold to break into the marketplace. While it may not be the finished version that embodies your ultimate vision (and in some cases ‘belief’) of what you “must have” in order to be successful, the flawed diamond has more value than the perfect pebble! Let’s find out why, as I’m sure there are many of you who can immediately conjure ideas of – why not.
For those of you screaming out – just take the time to polish the diamond! – you’re not wrong. This isn’t about abandoning that, quite the opposite. Of course you’re going to go to market with your perfected product/service etc. However, let’s take the time to examine MVP now – so you’re not stuck later, wondering what you could have done… . Don’t let “the perfect” be the enemy of “the possible” – MVP is a solution, not a roadblock.
Here are some of the outcomes you can look forward to:
- Test working theories
- Develop a feedback loop
- Gain crucial insight
- Identify new potential
- Stress test supply chain & fulfilment
- Refine product/service
All of this in the name of improvement of your product/service etc. and potentially, attainment of a greater market share through better market fit. In this sense, you can think of MVP as a process vs. a prototype. You may already have built this into your own strategy (and may not even know it). Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup notes, “It lets you know whether you’re making progress and to decide whether you need to pivot.”
In consideration of what you stand to gain, Ries also believes that entrepreneurs can often miss the mark on identifying customer interest. “Companies focus on producing outcomes that the customer perceives as valuable – but that presupposes the company already knows what attributes of a product the customer will perceive as worthwhile. These can be risky assumptions to make.” Including the process of MVP allows you to test your working theories, while wisely affording yourself the opportunity to pivot.
A feedback loop direct from the market is invaluable at all stages of a product/service etc. lifecycle. Another area that entrepreneurs regularly struggle with is understanding who the customer actually is. For those of you in that boat, we highly recommend the Further Faster Program run out of Georgian College here in Central Ontario. Don Bourne, Rob Cattle and their team of mentors do a fantastic job of helping businesses dial in on who their customer really is.
Gathering insights from your MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increases costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions.
While there is no proven roadmap to success, despite the plethora of blogs, columns, books and e-learning courses that would sell-you-so, learning from those who have come before you either at a (social) distance or in person will always benefit your own perspective. SBX CNNX groups are predicated on this ideology. Through sharing of knowledge, insights & best practices we rise the tide for all in our community.
At some point, you will need to have faith in your own vision! Gaining as many perspectives as possible to understand the implications of your pending decisions – is wise. Getting them directly from the addressable market is ingenious. MVP will tell you, before you commit to investing in your belief of what is right, if there are any adaptations the market (your customers), would actually prefer or naturally gravitate towards.
what is product/market fit?
Product/market fit describes the stage of a startup company where they have successfully identified a target customer and serve them with the right product. After achieving product/market fit, the next step is to scale by finding more customers within the target market.
“You can always feel when product/market fit is not happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of ‘blah,’ the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.
And you can always feel product/market fit when it is happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your house.”
These words from Marc Andreesen, better known as the founder of Netscape Communications Corporation, are ancient in today’s society – dating back to 2007. Other notable moments from 2007 while you’re thinking about it;
- Apple launches the iPhone
- Facebook & Twitter go global
- Texts overtook Phone Calls
- Netflix launched
We said before, MVP is a solution not a roadblock.
MVP IS THEE SOLUTION TO SOMETHING THAT ENTREPRENEURS HAVE STRUGGLED WITH FOR YEARS.. .
"'Not knowing what you don’t know”
You think you ‘might’ be right, and If you’re smart, you’ll engage in conversation with others in search of some form of validation that you ‘could’ be right. If you want to succeed, you’ll get out of your own way, engage MVP and let the market tell you what ‘is’ right.
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That was a lot for today. We’ll save the concepts of stress testing your supply chain & fulfilment, as well as refining your product for another read.
At Sandbox Centre, we offer resources to local businesses here in Central Ontario. This includes resources and support to meet professional development goals through our SBX CNNX Groups. For more information we invite you to check out our events page or visit us on the 2nd floor at 24 Maple Avenue in Barrie, Ontario, and join the Sandbox community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
Jesse Kerr – Creative Commissioner | Sandbox Centre
Jesse is always multitasking.. . . and seems to thrive when juggling priorities and deadlines. He’d tell you he’s adaptable because he builds in room for error, adjustment, improvement, alteration and mitigation of foreseeable road blocks into his vision. However, anything that falls outside of this range of acceptability is quickly dispatched because “ain’t nobody got time for that”! He’s not good at collaborating in large groups – but he sure is good at entertaining them! We’re pleased to offer you his perspective that includes his margin for error; alongside an imagineered vision of greatness. Question is – are we going for good, better or best? Cheers!