Simplify and test to quickly grow
I was recently asked by a founder for feedback on their financial projection. Their plan was to spend the better part of a year building out modules and integrations so they could launch and scale their revenue. Their value was in their integrated workflow, so it required lots of upfront development.
In my experience, young companies building complex products will often have to spend even more time adapting once they have real-world feedback. The development process carries a lot of risk because you can’t test the end-user engagement, implementation obstacles, or sales hurdles until the development is complete. We evolved our approach at DealerScience to launching more basic versions that provided a smaller amount of value, and it reminded me of an image I had seen years ago.
Author/Copyright holder: Henrik Kniberg. Copyright terms and license: All rights reserved https://blog.crisp.se/2016/01/25/henrikkniberg/making-sense-of-mvp
What I love about this graphic is that it reframes the solution around the problem that’s being solved. If you’re looking for a car, you really need transportation. A skateboard is a much faster and less expensive way of providing transportation to validate assumptions. All of the feedback won’t apply to a car, and the results will be anecdotal, but you’ll learn so much from customers who are using a basic version that provides a limited version of the core value.
It’s impossible to anticipate everything, so the product will need to change. The key is to validate that customers need and use your product early, and apply those early learnings to shape your product as it grows. The earlier you’re able to do this, less work will be required when the product needs to change.
My feedback to the startup was simple. What’s the simplest version of your product that we can get in the hands of customers quickly? What complexity can we delay until we’ve validated that the core solves the problem? What automated components and integrations can be done manually until we’ve validated that customers use the product?
The next time you’re working on building a new product, try to find the simplest version that still provides some value. It’s often the fastest way to build your end goal.