7 Keys To Triumphantly Launching Anything

Have you ever heard the term ‘MVP’ as it refers to product development?  MVP stands for ‘Minimum Viable Product’ and relates to a good many business models, including digital products, software and lean startups that are launched quickly.

Here’s the official definition:

“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” The definition’s use of the words maximum and minimum means it is decidedly not formulaic.  (Wikipedia)

The main advantage is that with an MVP, you take it to market as early as possible, instead of investing a lot of time, money and resources in making it perfect before it goes live.

We are currently doing it with TimeSlots scheduling software.  We built a working framework early, added about 600 beta testers through paid traffic, and started adding features and fixing bugs that they were uncovering.

Most of those new users were brought in through paid traffic, which means were started testing the paid ads as early as possible to start putting together data on finding customers.

The key is to solve your perfect customers most troubling problem right away, and then let them tell you what they want from there.

For TimeSlots, I needed a piece of software that would allow folks to pick a time on my calendar, collect their contact details, and let me ask them a few questions.  That was it, so that’s what we built.

Since then, we’ve added a ton of other features that our users requested, including Paypal integration for call scheduling, two-way Google Calendar sync’ing, that ability to add a ‘buffer’ in between appointments…

TimeSlots Available To Be Scheduled

TimeSlots Available To Be Scheduled

Right now, there are 53,000 available TimeSlots that our users are scheduling…  Pretty crazy, right?

That was all from releasing a Minimum Viable Product, and letting folks tell us what features they wanted included.

In fact, you can see evidence of that on the bug tracking and feature request thread that we use to keep TimeSlots users updated!

We’ve been working on some bigger integrations recently, including the #1 feature request, mobile integration and a mobile app.

With that, let’s take a look at how some other companies work through product releases

Start With The End In Mind

The single biggest thing about launching an MVP product is to have the ‘end in mind’ when you get started.  In other words, work backwards.

Take that initial problem that you’re looking to solve, and put it front and center.  Build your entire product or service around it.  You’ll find that it’ll be MUCH easier when you’re ready to go to market!

You’ll be able to describe exactly what your product does quickly, without a whole lot of education or hassle getting in the way.

In fact, Amazon has an interesting twist.  They start with an internal press release, where they write up that ‘launch’ release and use that as a basis for the whole project, from beginning to end!

Don’t Wait

Waiting and NOT doing something has a cost to it…  You lose time.  You give competitors a chance to gain ground.  Rules can change.  Ad platforms can shift.

I’ve been online for a long time and six months is a lifetime in terms of how dramatically business models can change.  One minute it’s free traffic.  Then it’s affiliate traffic.  Then it’s paid traffic.  At the end of the day, it’s about doing what will work for you, right now, at this moment and focusing on ONLY that.

The same can be said for MVP products.  After you come to the conclusion that your idea is a good one, go full steam ahead.  Don’t lose focus.  Make sure that every bit of your working day is devoted to growing that one, Minimum Viable Product.

Christopher Janz has an interesting take on ‘How Fast Is Fast Enough.’  He says:

“Growth (a.k.a. traction) is the most important factor that attracts VCs and drives valuations in private financing rounds.”

No matter whether you’re starting a consulting business, building an app, or launching a marketplace; growth can only happen if you take action.

Perfection Is Overrated

Your MVP won’t be perfect.  Not by a long shot.  There will be bugs, glitches, misspellings, and a LOT of things could be better.

It will take WAY more time to make it perfect than it will to launch and tweak things later.  In fact, I’ve found that oftentimes people use the “It’s not perfect yet” line of thinking to mask the fact that they aren’t personally ready to go to market.

It’s an excuse.

They’re rather wait (see above) than go to market.  Maybe it’s risk.  Maybe it’s fear of failure.  Maybe it’s none of it and they’re just truly perfectionists.

The bottom line is that if you don’t launch anything and there’s no way for people to pay you for your product, your service, your software or whatever…  You will still be in the exact same place you are right now until you make up your mind to change.

As a testament to that, I found this article about ‘simple drawings‘ that can engage readers FAR more than professionally designed ones…  And secondly?  The ads that have the highest click-thru rate on paid traffic…  They typically have a handwritten font as the headline, like this.

Efficiency Is Everything

You know me – I’m a big fan of procedures and systems.  I think it’s the best way to convey the linear relationship that is business.  Traffic comes in.  You get signups, sales and customers.  Everyone’s happy.

No where is efficiency more important than with your MVP product.  Why have a team of writers when you can do it yourself?  Why hire both a designer and a programmer when you can mock up the design you’re looking for and hand it off?

Don’t get caught up in going through courses and learning everything there is to know when most of it doesn’t actually matter for what you’re doing!  Just find one person with the skills to get it done for you

As an interesting aside, there’s actually this idea on parking.  Apparently, the first parking spot you see when you pull into a parking lot is the most efficient.

In business, it’s pretty much the same.  The simplest path of action is usually the most profitable, when you dedicate yourself to it!

Study The Losers

When we only study successes, this sample can only give advice from a limited perspective. We can learn from people who have failed as well and avoid a similar outcome. [Lifehacker]

It’s easy to see who’s doing well in a market.  They’re covered by media outlets, you see their advertising all over the place, and your friends are sharing their stuff online.

The losers though?  They’re a little bit more difficult to track down.

If you don’t see any competitors in a market, it’s most likely because the business model was broken and the failed businesses couldn’t find enough interest to make their idea sustainable.

For the well funded startups, TechCrunch will cover them in their deadpan.  For those without funding or investment, they just go away.

After all, every business is made up of winning and losing campaigns!  The best businesses are the ones that overcome those setbacks and figure out how to change their strategy and grow in a different direction.

Prioritize

How do you prioritize when everything seems like it’s urgent?  A priority?

The first thing you want to do is make sure that your marketing is dialed in, at least for your initial campaign.  That’s where you’re going to spend a good deal of time.

If you aren’t able to sell your product or service, how do you hope to be sustainable?

Once you figure out the marketing end, it’s time to go to work supporting your customers, asking for feedback, and making your offer as good as possible.

Implement what your users want (within reason) and keep growing the marketing side!

If doing videos isn’t a crucial piece of your marketing strategy – don’t do them!  If getting bloggers to review your software isn’t required to get new customers – don’t pursue it!  If a course doesn’t seem like a great fit for teaching you exactly how to keep scaling your business – don’t buy it!

At the end of the day, everything is going to seem like it’s a priority.  It’s important for you to understand what truly is and what truly isn’t.

Get Your First Customer As Fast As Possible

The last, and most important piece of this MVP puzzle, is to get your first customer as fast as humanly possible.  Before you get your first customer, what you have is an idea that you’ve worked really hard on.

After you get your first customer though, it’s game on!

Once you get your first customer, then it’s time to get the second.  And the third.  And the fourth.  From there, automate the process, drive traffic and start scaling it!

I will tell you, the priority for your business is to make your product or service work with paid traffic, through Facebook or banner ads or blog posts.  Deliver value to your prospects and turn those prospects into sales…

Now Tell Us…

What did you take away from this article?  What MVP are you going to build?  And what are you doing right now to make it happen?

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