One of the biggest mistakes early stage software start-ups make, especially those that raise money too early, is that they become too product focused. They want to build out a full-fledged, complicated product before they even have traction.
Here’s the problem with building something that you predictively think will work: there’s a big chance it could fail or come crashing down.
Your software should do one or two things, and do them really well. Feature creep, over-engineering and over-optimizing for anything will take your product into a dark abyss from which there’s no return. The main aim for any founder or engineering team should be to build an MVP first, then have the confidence to sell the product yourself.
6 Principles for MVP
- Build software that solves one problem really well in the simplest manner. Don’t create a product that does a lot of things decently—create something that does one thing better than anything else on the market.
- Don’t focus on 100% automation for any process from day one—aim for total automation as you scale. If you have to go deliver coffee on your own bike for your uber for coffee app, do it until there’s an absolute need to integrate with an API or external vendor system.
- Use a quick to deploy and edit stack. Shift to a more scalable framework in the future when you feel that your MVP functionality has reached a dead end.
- Don’t forget that marketing, sales, and customer service account for 70% of your start-up resources. Don’t spend 14 hours a day on code if you’re a team of two or three. Instead, help build tools for your sales team and integrate 3rd party software that can help you make more money.
- Don’t be scared of critical feedback from users. MVP’s are supposed to be rough around the edges, and your early users and customers will define the path your product will take.
- Make full use of free resources like GitHub, CodePen, and other open sourcing sites to help save time and money. Just don’t forget to return the favor by sharing your own code once your start-up is making millions.
If you’re a non technical founder and need help setting up your first MVP, or building on top of your current scalable stack, talk to our product specialists; we’re the on-demand team for small businesses.
Syed Ahmed is the co-founder and Chief Technology Office at TARA. He graduated in 2014 from Queensland University of Technology with two master degrees and founded TARA Inc. in 2016. Syed specializes in creating applications related to machine learning and data science, as well as process development and business process engineering.