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Best Way To Come Up With An Amazing MVP

You’ve got an idea for a software product. Think it would be great. And you believe it can help solve a problem, even if it’s only you that you know has the issue.

But you’re not “technical”, you don’t know where to start.

I wish I had a pound for every person who has said this to me. Sure I would have paid my mortgage off by now.

Launching a ‘software startup’ is mind-boggling if you’ve never tried it before.

Especially if you’re working with limited resources.

As a non-technical person, creating a software product may seem impossible.

The best thing you can do is come up with a ‘Minimum Viable Product’, known in the software industry as an ‘MVP’. It’s essential to test your idea before investing too much time and money into it. I know this only too well, I’ve done it more times than I care to think about.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss the best way to come up with an MVP. If you’re non-technical and have a limited amount of time and money, this post is for you.

What is an MVP?

What is an MVP

Before diving into how to create an MVP.

Let’s first define what it is.

An MVP is the minimum version of a software product. That you can put in front of people to test the idea’s viability.

It should have only the essential features, even one single feature. That addresses users’ needs to solve their problems, nothing more. The goal of an MVP is to learn from early adopters. And test your assumptions about your product with minimal investment.

Why is an MVP important?

Creating an MVP is crucial.

It allows you to get feedback from users with minimal investment.

The feedback you receive can help you identify potential issues with your product. Such as usability, functionality, and market fit. Without an MVP, you run the risk of building a product that no one wants or needs. Wasting your valuable time and resources.

Unfortunately, I know this only too well.

A few friends and I spent 12 months building out a mobile app idea. Only to launch it and spend another 2 years promoting it. For it to crash and burn with barely anything in return for my efforts.

No users = no income.

How to come up with an MVP?

So how do we come up with an MVP?

Here’s a framework that I’ve put together. Both from my experience and from reading a lot of books and articles on the subject.

1) Start with a problem

The first step in coming up with an MVP is to identify a problem that you want to solve.

From the people I talk to. You may already know what that is.

It’s important to focus on a problem that is significant enough to motivate users to use your product.

You can start by conducting market research to identify areas where there is a gap in the market. Once you have identified a problem, you can start brainstorming solutions.

2) Define your target audience

Marketing 101: If your product is for everyone. It’s for no one.

Once you have identified a problem, you need to define your target audience.

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your target audience’s pain. You need to make sure that your product solves their problem.

You can create user personas to help you understand your target audience better.

Again, from the people I talk to, they are trying to solve a problem for themselves. This is great. It means that you are your target audience. So you need to find more people like you that are having the exact same problem.

3) Identify the core features

After defining your target audience. You need to come up with ideas for the core features of your product.

The core features need to focus on solving your target audience’s problem.

Avoid adding unnecessary features that do not add value to the user.

What you want to do is come up with as many ideas as possible. As long as they address the problem, great, get it down on paper. Remember, we aren’t going to implement all these ideas.

We are trying to find the best one.

The one that gives you the best chance for success.

4) Prioritize the features

Once you have a list of these ideas. The list of “core features”

You need to prioritize them based on user needs.

You can use a technique like the MoSCoW method. Which stands for Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have. This method helps you rank the features based on their importance and urgency.

The goal with this step is to drop as many feature ideas as possible and whittle them down to the ones you think are the best.

You want to get down 3-5 features, that solve the problem at hand.

Word of warning. It’s not about getting a list of everything you can build. It’s about getting one single, focused idea that: A) Solves the issue for someone. B) Gives you the best chance of succeeding.

5) Create a prototype

After prioritizing the features, you can start creating a prototype.

You should have one amazing feature. But if you’ve got a few, and you believe that they are all key to solving the issue. Then don’t worry too much at this stage.

A prototype is a rough draft of your product that allows you to visualize the product’s user interface and experience.

There are many tools available that can help you create a prototype, such as Sketch, Figma, or InVision.

The prototype should be simple and easy to use, with only the essential features.

6) Gather feedback

Once you have a prototype, it’s time to gather feedback from potential users.

You can share the prototype with your target audience and ask for their feedback.

Their feedback will help you identify any issues with your product and make improvements. You can use tools like UsabilityHub or UserTesting to gather feedback.

7) Iterate and refine

Based on the feedback you receive, you need to iterate and refine your prototype.

It’s surprising what people will say and our assumptions can be off the mark.

Don’t take any feedback personally. Take it as a gift. As long as it helps figure out if your idea and prototype meet your target audience’s needs. It’s essential for you to make progress.

If you’re struggling to find people to show your prototype to. Facebook Groups and Reddit are great places to find communities.

Don’t make the mistake I have in the past. If you want to post on a group or a subreddit. Make sure you read the community rules and guidelines. Don’t get banned before you’ve had a chance to get feedback.

Also, some Reddit users are what I like to call “Keyboard Warriors”. They will shit all over you’re idea, over you and call you all the names under the sun.

Ignore these people. They aren’t worth worrying about.

Next steps

Working out an MVP can be an iterative process.

It could be the case that you repeat stages 5-7 until you’re happy with your prototype.

You may need to repeat steps 1-7 completely too. Sometimes, you could have overlooked something, and you won’t know until you start getting feedback.

Worst-case scenario you may have to scrap the idea altogether. People may not care, and that’s OK.

Next, once your prototype is getting amazing feedback. You may get the old “when I can use it?”. Better yet “take my money”.

If so, take one or two core features from your prototype and start building a working version of the software.

If you need help figuring out how to do this. I’m more than happy to help out. I’ve worked as a software consultant for many years and will happily jump on a “no strings attached” call. And talk through things with you. You can book a free discovery call here.

Alternatively. I’ve written an article on the different ways you can start building an MVP if you aren’t technical.

Tips for your MVP

Here are a couple of tips that I’ve found from launching 10+ software-based startups.

Focus on the core features. Ideally one

I can’t stress this enough.

These are the features that are essential to your product’s success. And provide the most value to your users.

It’s important to focus on these core features, and these only.

In the software space, there is a term called ‘feature creep’. Which is the tendency to add more and more features to your product. You think that these other features will improve the product.

But they take away from the core problem you’re trying to solve. They also make the software more complex and expensive to develop.

A great example of a simple solution that I use time and time again. Is the online game Wordle.

Very simple concept and “problem”. To help his girlfriend to get better with word-based puzzles. And added one or two features. Like tracking stats and results. As well as adding a way to share results to get his game in front of more people.

He ended up selling the game to the New York Times. That’s the power of a great MVP

Keep it simple

The key to a successful MVP is to keep it simple.

Your goal is not to build a polished, fully-featured product. But a basic version of your product. That allows you to test the market and get feedback from users.

You want to focus on the core feature(s) of your product and avoid adding unnecessary complexity.

One way to keep your MVP simple is to use mockup or wireframing software.

These tools allow you to create a simple prototype of your product that you share with people. Mockup, or wireframing software is often free or low-cost and requires no coding skills. Making it an excellent option for non-technical folk.

Gather as much data as possible

Once you have a basic prototype. You can start gathering feedback from potential users.

Feedback is essential for refining your product. And ensuring that you are meeting the needs of your target audience.

You can gather feedback through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews. The key is to listen to your users and use their feedback to improve your product.

Conclusion: Building an MVP

Designing, building and launching a software product is a tough ask.

Even more so if you don’t code from a coding or technical background. You could have worked in a software team as a non-technical person. Even with that, it’s hard to get started and figure out how to move forward.

It’s because software builds become complicated.

But coming up with an initial version, or mockup for your idea doesn’t have to be.

You can break it down into a 7 steps process. That allows you to go backwards and forwards through the steps to improve your idea.

Your goal is to figure out what people want, in the shortest time possible. Without wasting too much time and money. So you know what to build and give yourself the best chance of succeeding.

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!

Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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