MVP vs Perfection

Done is better than perfect. For some entrepreneurs and business owners, that’s a tough pill to swallow. But sometimes perfectionism can get in the way of moving a project forward. It can wind up hurting your business.

When we started our podcast last year, the Uncommon Life Project, we had no idea if anyone would listen and what the response would be. We basically got some decent microphones and gave it a shot. We’re into year two now, and it’s been an amazing ride. Take it from us, don’t let not knowing what you’re doing stop you! You will miss out.

I’m so glad we started the podcast. We’ve interviewed some amazing people, and the podcast has reached people we never would have connected with otherwise. People who are looking for an uncommon approach to taking care of building and creating new paths to growing wealth. That experience, among others, is why I have come to really appreciate a concept called “minimum viable product” or MVP.

If you are not familiar, this is where instead of guessing what the perfect product or service for the market would be – with all the perfect features, bells, and whistles – you don’t wait for perfection but go with what you’ve got. And even better, you don’t guess at what the market will say. You start at the minimum. The idea is to get your idea out there quickly, with the basic features you have in mind. Demonstrate that idea to even one person, get their feedback, iterate and repeat.

You then test out the concept with a slightly larger group. You get their feedback, you make changes needed, and you keep the iterations going.

A podcast does this kind of naturally. We started out with a small audience, figured out how and who to interview as we went, and tweaked things as the project grew. It’s been incredibly fun and we’ve learned a lot in the process.

The minimum viable product concept gets ideas out there so you can experiment, get feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and create something that a critical mass of potential buyers/clients/users actually want.

Often times, we as entrepreneurs and business owners are perfectionists before we roll something out. In a way, it makes sense. There’s a lot at stake. Huge companies that have R&D budgets can focus group a concept every which way and generally have more staff, energy, and dollars to experiment like this.

But entrepreneurs and small businesses can and need to do this sort of experimentation too. Waiting for the perfect product or service might bring it too late to market. It might seem perfect to you, only to find that nobody needs or wants your version of perfection. That’s a big gut-punch to your ego and your bottom line.

Letting your fans, loyal customers and advocates in earlier and getting honest and real feedback sets the stage for iterating faster and bringing better products and services to market versus trying to do it all in-house behind closed doors.

We’ve tried out a lot of ideas as we’ve developed our brand and the services we offer. The podcast is a great example of starting small, iterating and growing with it. Some things we’ve tried have started small and fizzled out. That’s the nature of business. Let perfectionism take over and you’ll miss the opportunity and get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. But if you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know nothing goes according to plan!

The key to MVP: be honest and cast a vision. Then get lots of feedback and keep the continual improvement loop rolling along.