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Growing a small business can be challenging, and that’s an understatement! It’s easy to set goals for a new business and much harder to execute on them. Sometimes it can even seem almost impossible to find the steps that need to be taken between the current reality of your company and the future you have imagined for it. If you started your business with the MVP model, chances are you’re eager to take it to the next level. But, as with other aspects of growing a business, it definitely doesn’t happen overnight.
Related: 4 keys to grow and scale your startup
Definition of the MVP
What exactly is an MVP and how is it leveraged for small startups?
No, it doesn’t refer to the most valuable player, although it might as well, from some perspectives. MVP stands for minimum viable product. It’s a proven methodology for launching a small business or service without the budget, time, or resources to go through an otherwise optimal testing phase.
MVP launch models and startup strategies can be widely adapted for almost any type of business. It is impossible to put a number on what is really the minimum viable, because what works for one company is not enough for another. But it’s worth the time to find out what your particular MVP is; the failure rate without it is potentially devastating for a new business. Some research suggests that nine out of ten startups fail because they have too many expenses. Following the MVP model can save funds for later. On top of that, establishing an MVP can help attract investors.
The MVP Launch Model
MVP strategies allow small businesses to test new ideas, products, or services in the wild, so to speak, or in the real world, which is the same thing these days.
This is especially valuable for a company with limited resources and a small startup budget. It allows the entrepreneur to see what works and what doesn’t within a microcosm that amounts to a basic version of the potential end product.
As an example, let’s say you want to launch a small restaurant brand and want to offer home delivery in multiple areas. Starting with a long route from the beginning, without even knowing how many orders you can sell, could be prohibitive. But you can set certain parameters, such as only delivering to drop-off points once or twice a week. This will give the business room to grow organically, without blowing the budget right away.
The same principle can be applied to starting a business with the absolute minimum number of employees. Maybe make it a family effort and save the hiring for later. An entrepreneur can spend up to 40 percent of their time on things like human resources, payroll, and recruiting. This is a way to not only conserve funds by restricting hiring, but also save time and energy. And allow the entrepreneur to focus on generating money from the start.
Related: Is it time to outsource human resources?
Clearly, the MVP release model varies from company to company. But one thing is for sure. No matter what type of business you are running, you must have the drive and motivation to move to the next step.
So what comes after the MVP?
The learning process
Potentially the most beneficial part of the MVP process in the long run is what you learn from trading with an MVP. MVP is research on the fly, so to speak. It allows you to identify your audience and determine if your business has the potential for success and growth.
Throughout the initial launch, you should collect as much data as you can get your hands on. Who are your customers? What are they buying? What do you think of that? What would they change? What do they love or hate about your product or service? Create a feedback loop and use it to move to the next step.
The thing about a feedback loop, of course, is that you have to weigh how much it informs what you do. Starting with a customer base, you can break down into percentages which features of your product and service have the highest success rate. Then balance that with feedback from your users.
So what comes after the learning process? How will you continue to scale your business?
Looking at business growth
That’s actually a trick question because every self-respecting business owner knows that the learning process goes on and on. Potentially forever. Because you want to continue to benefit from your customers’ insights and feedback for as long as your business is functional.
However, there is a next step on what to do with that feedback after you’ve worked on the MVP. Some call it MMR or MMP (Minimum Release Marketable and Minimum Marketable Product respectively) and this process is all about adding features to your MVP.
It’s likely that he already had some additional features in mind, things that may have been cut from the prototype in MVP’s interest. You may have also gotten some suggestions from your initial customers.
With the MMR/MMP process, it’s time to start adding value to your products and services. Again, using a small restaurant delivery service as an example, this is where you might start adding delivery days or locations. Or expanding some of the products you can offer. With the MMR/MMP, you are getting closer to the finished product.
Remember, the feedback loop should never stop, especially as you work to take the next step.
taking more steps
The next step is known as the MLP, or Lovable Minimal Product. It focuses on not just making a product that works, but one that people actually want to buy.
Potentially, funding from the execution of the MVP/MMR/MMP portion of your business strategy can be channeled into receiving feedback and using it to develop your MLP. Chances are you’ll need some of those seed funds you smartly saved up working with the MVP to get started.
The MLP part of running a business is where things really start to take off. You will continue to receive feedback and refine your product or service. But by now you should also be receiving word of mouth marketing from customers who are satisfied, maybe even enthusiastic about the products you offer. About 83 percent of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. This means that WOM marketing is the most viable (and profitable!) marketing tool available to a new business. By creating an MLP, you have increased your potential for WOMM.
Achieve business growth
With a truly viable and coveted product in your hands, and word of mouth starting to circulate, your business is well on its way to true success. Remember that this growth does not happen overnight. A solid foundation is vital to turning a simple MVP into an expanded full version company.
Related: 15 Strategies to Rapidly Expand Your Business