If you spend little time in the business and startup world, you may be excused for thinking MVP stands for most valuable player. But those three letters have a different meaning when it comes to innovation, business creation, and product launch.
In this universe, MVP means minimally viable product. It's essentially a skeleton of a product that can offer a glimpse at how something will look, feel, and act before being fully developed and ready to hit the market. Basically, it's more than a sketch, but far less than what the final iteration will be.
If you're considering launching a product into production and have not put an MVP milepost on your development schedule, there are five reasons why you should seriously reconsider.
1. It's a huge time-saver.
If you haven't yet developed a product or service, take my word for it--it's far more expensive and time-consuming than you'd think, and there will undoubtedly be a gap between your perception of your creation and how consumers will actually respond to it.
This means that releasing an MVP for the sake of feedback saves a ton of time and money, as initial response will immediately inform you where your efforts need to be focused. With engagement from investors, mentors, employees, and customers, your time is focused on the more important aspects of development.
2. Unseen problems won't remain unaddressed.
No matter how good you are and how strong your idea is, you won't spot every obstacle or snag at the outset.
Releasing an MVP brings forward a surprising amount of issues that need to be addressed, allowing them to be fixed early on. Without an MVP, serious flaws can remain hidden throughout development, and fixing them after full release can cost an incredible amount of time and money.
3. Better understanding of the market.
Putting an MVP in the hands of your potential customers through a limited trial or focus group may literally save your product.
Getting direct responses from your target audience while you still have time to make changes is paramount to success. Accordingly, not listening to that feedback is an equally large mistake. An even bigger mistake? Not having some form of your product--an MVP or otherwise--available for testing before entering full production.
4. Entrepreneurship is impossible without it.
One of the most important entrepreneurial skills is the ability to make changes. Innovators and entrepreneurs have great ideas, but they also embrace change, be it with markets, ideas, or products.
Simply put, if you don't budget time to solicit feedback and act accordingly, you can't change. If you refuse change for any reason, you're missing a crucial step on the entrepreneurial path, and your shot at success is immediately compromised.
5. Development will focus on the most important changes.
There's a good chance that even after receiving MVP feedback, it'll be impossible to change virtually everything that requires attention. Time and money constraints generally won't allow it, unfortunately.
Getting feedback and making changes not only saves development resources for product pivots and iteration, it'll help you prioritize which changes are immediately essential and which can wait.
Having an MVP isn't a substitute for having a good product. Still, potential and time can be entirely wasted by releasing an incomplete product before testing it as an MVP.