Failure is a fact of life. While some people prefer to gloss over that reality, I would rather embrace it. In any endeavor we undertake, no matter how successful it ultimately proves, we will fail in some small way. That’s a deeply humanizing truth, and while it may seem pessimistic, our failures (small or large) often hold the key to our success. If we can learn from our mistakes, we emerge stronger, smarter, and more resilient.
I’ve written previously about what we can learn from products that failed, and even highlighted a few prime examples of major missteps from some of the most successful companies in the world. While major corporations often experience failure, it’s an even greater specter in the startup world. Passionate entrepreneurs are launching innovative new ventures every day despite the fact that 90% of startups fail, as Neil Patel recently reminded us in Forbes. Thankfully, this harsh truth conceals a silver lining.
You're almost across the finish line! If you've tuned into the previous installments of our “Yea or Nay” series, we have discussed strategies surrounding vetting your idea and building your initial team. Now it's time for the final step: building your minimum viable product.
The idea of an MVP was introduced to the world by Eric Ries, a Silicone Valley entrepreneur and Yale graduate, around 2008. As its name would indicate, the idea is simple. In his blog Startup Lessons Learned, Ries explains the idea of MVP as this,
“The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
In other words, the minimum viable product is another crucial step in what I believe is the most vital key to business success: extracting as much customer feedback as possible. As N. Taylor Thompson of the Harvard Business review writes,
“In creating a minimum viable product, entrepreneurs choose between experiements that can validate or invalidate their assumptions about a business model. If your MVP is a worse product than your imagined final version, success validates your idea; failure, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily invalidate it. If your MVP offers a better experience, then failure invalidates your business model; success doesn’t necessarily validate it.”
If you're racing to the finish line of startup success, here are some simple steps for building your MVP and determining whether or not your startup approach is valid.
You’ve done it! Days and nights of vetting your idea, researching your market and identifying your customers have paid off, and your startup business is beginning to take form. Now, if you’re anything like most entrepreneurs, you can be found with hunched shoulders, a sweaty brow and a mind turning around the thought, “How can I turn this into a reality?”
The simple answer: You can’t! Not by yourself at least. No matter how amazing the idea or the simplicity of the processes involved, the fate of our businesses ultimately lies in the team with which we surround ourselves. Eric Schmidt, longtime CEO of Google, highlights this point in his recent tell all “How Google Works.” He explains,
“You need to have confidence in your people, and enough self-confidence to let them identify a better way.”
One weak member can crumble a team, an idea or a business—there’s no mistaking this. So, how can we be certain we assemble the right team that will ensure our vision becomes a reality?
Here are four simple steps to use when building your new team: