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Please Build Less Product

Apple pie

(Mom's Apple Pie)

Something I hear almost every week...

"We're going to launch our MVP in 2 months' time, get some early feedback on our idea and then we've a version 2 planned soon after that which does X Y and Z".

(MVP = minimum viable product)

You have an idea. You test the idea by building it. What's wrong with that?

It is admittedly one way to test an idea. This approach can sometimes work - if the idea was right in the first place.

However, it's an expensive way to find out you were wrong. Not only that, you are testing a limited and fixed set of features.

A better and cheaper approach is to spend this time first really understanding your customers. Why are you building what you are building in the first place?

  • How do your potential customers currently solve for the need or problem that you want to address?
  • What friction is there in this process?
  • What is their motivation for wanting this solved?
  • What do they really care about?
  • Are they bothered enough to try out alternatives?
  • Who are they influenced by and how?

At Forward Partners we like to "build as little product as possible". We encourage founders to build their MVP based on a thorough understanding of their customer.

Of course, at some point you do need to launch a product and the purpose of doing do is to test if customers respond to the proposition. Before doing so there's a lot that can be tested without building anything. Customer discovery, the process of interviewing potential customers, can yield loads of useful information. This helps to refine the proposition. It can turn an OK idea into a great idea. Plus, it's far cheaper and quicker.

On Customer Discovery, if there is one book to read for someone looking to create a business, it's Rob Fitzpatrick's "The Mom Test".

Rob explains...

People say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea.

That’s true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone whether your business is a good idea. At least not in those words. Admittedly, your mom will lie to you the most (weird, right?). But everyone will lie to you at least a little.

Ultimately it's a bad question, and it’s not their responsibility to show us the truth. It’s our responsibility to find it. We do that by asking good questions."

Rob's book helps you to ask the right questions. Please read it.

What I really love in an entrepreneur is the thirst for a deep understanding of their customers.

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