Monday, October 26, 2015

What's Your Minimum Viable Business?

Are you familiar with the concept of a minimum viable product? Basically, the product contains the core features and functionality required to launch, and nothing more. I've seen it misinterpreted in a way to try to deliver the minimum amount of work, but it truly should include the core required features regardless of the amount of work involved.

Over the weekend, though, I wondered: what would it take to create a minimum viable business? What required features would be needed to launch a business? If you thought about your business idea this way would it allow you the same benefits - to test ideas with minimal investment, maximize ability to capitalize on feedback, and speed the time to market? I came up with two key components. That's correct, just two.

A Product or Service

The first thing you need is a minimum viable product of your own. What, exactly, are you selling? What core set of features would give you something to sell that your customers would want? Developing the product also requires that you have a way to deliver the product or service to your customers. If you make a physical product, perhaps hand delivery or mail is the way to go. If you are creating informational products, like training, books, or videos, you may need a digital distribution method, perhaps a website or even emailing the product after it is purchased. Either way, in order to start making money as a business, you start with something to sell and find a way to get it to your paying customers.

A Way to Collect Money

If you have something to sell, you also need a way to collect payment for that product or service from your customers. Again, you do not need to get too fancy with it. Perhaps you collect payments in person. You could do something as simple as set up a Paypal account. Or maybe you put your product into an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon. However you plan to get money from your customers, once someone decides to buy from you, you need to be able to accept their money and provide them with what they purchased.

Beyond That, Just Hustle

Some types of businesses (like that brewery I want to open) have some additional requirements like permits or equipment. Those become part of the model of your product. At that point, you have a business. You have something to sell, and a way to collect money for it. Then everything falls on you. Sales, marketing, and promotion become your life. You have to hustle. Put as much effort behind it as you can.

The point of defining your minimum viable business is speeding up your business start up. Get something off the ground. Worry about getting fancier with your product offering once you've sold something. Get a better payment collection method when you pull in enough payments that you become concerned with your existing method. Just get started.

What other requirements does your minimum viable business have?