The end of 2021 and the start of 2022 have been exceptionally hard and it’s only thanks to having a minimum viable product (MVP) that I have had any income. Actually, it’s not the first time that I’ve relied on my MVP, and it is my most valued player too, in my business.
In 2016, my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and died after 10 months. In the past two months, I’m writing this in February 2022, I have dealt with and ended a toxic family relationship and had another family member diagnosed with cancer. Throw in there one child starting their final year of school and another starting senior high school, plus online learning, covid, and my husband starting a new job; and it has been incredibly full-on. (Just in case you were wondering why I’d been so quiet here on the blog)
So why am I writing about minimum viable products now? Well, it’s only been now that I’ve realised the importance and that I haven’t written about them.
What is a minimum viable product?
Technically, a minimum viable product is the simplest, stripped back version a client will buy so a business can learn from this and then develop the offer.
Personally, my minimum viable product is managing social media for a small group of clients. Some of these clients are also ongoing coaching clients. Neither are actual products, they’re services, but social media management is the most basic of services I can offer that I can then build upon.
Benefits of a minimum viable product
I started my business managing social media and from there I learnt that my clients really needed business and mindset coaching. My MVP helped me to scale and better understand my audience.
I have a client who is an electrician and his minimum viable products are replacing power points and testing and tagging. They are simple tasks that lead him to a better understanding of his client.
Another benefit of my current MVP is that it provides me with a minimum ongoing income. I previously had a product-based business and while I had a MVP (a 50c handmade hairtie), it did not generate a consistent income. So some MVPs will give you that ongoing income, like testing and tagging or social media management, others will not.
In hard times, like I’ve been through, a minimum viable product can allow you to have an income and a distraction. Yes, it can be stressful trying to fulfil obligations but I have found greater benefit in the distraction. Not to mention that ongoing clients are often quite understanding if you are normally reliable and explain your circumstances.
How do you determine your minimum viable product?
Well, I suppose you could ask yourself, “what’s the very least I can do?” Or alternatively, you can look at what you offer and what sells well and see if you can systemize, automate, white-label, or outsource and offer that.
In essence, it’s a pared-back product or service that your clients want, that could lead to something else, that you can deliver with minimum input from you (time, money, or other resources).
Famous minimum viable products
So, if you’re wondering if a MVP actually makes you money, then you might like to know that the following businesses started out as MVPs and then grew from there.
You might know, or remember that, Amazon began as an online bookstore. However, Jeff Bezos bought the books from distributors when he received an order. As sales grew, so did his need for warehousing and distribution and understanding what his clients wanted.
Groupon began promoting the services of local businesses and offering deals that lasted for a limited amount of time. Unable to build their own content management system at first, the owners used a WordPress blog and scaled from there.
Airbnb started with the founder’s apartment and grew by giving people the option to list a room for short-term rental to earn extra income. Now Airbnb includes experiences and not just accommodation.
As you can see there can be quite a benefit from understanding and growing from your MVP. Who knows you might be the next MVP success story! (Or like me, a way to stay afloat in lean or challenging times)