Thinking of starting up? Don’t build an MVP.

Thinking of starting up? Don’t build an MVP.

You’ve got a wealth of knowledge. You’ve been in the corporate trenches long enough to see the gaps in the market. You’re now contemplating a ‘start-up’. By now, you’ve stumbled upon the idea of building an MVP to address the gap. Time to launch and scale the startup to a billion dollars?

Hold up for a second.
*press pause*
To start with, you need to make sure you build out a solid MVP.

But what does that really mean?

Here’s a simple definition:

“An MVP is the most pared-down version of a process or a product that can be released.”

Breaking it down, a minimum viable product:

–     Has enough value that people are willing to use or buy it initially.

–     Demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters.

–     Provides a feedback loop to guide future development.

In other words, it’s a build, measure, learn, loop.

But here’s the problem with an MVP:

Since the concept of a minimum viable product was coined, the world has changed rapidly. The market for products and services today are aggressively competitive. Customers, even early ones, don’t want poorly designed products or processes anymore.

They expect the world – and they don’t care if you’re just starting out. 

Don’t have that ‘wow’ factor? You’ll likely not exist long enough to even get to raise your Series A.

That’s where the concept of a Minimum Delightful Product comes in.

Why the MVP model is not the first stage of the start-up:

The premise of a Minimum Delightful Product [or Process] is simple:

Marry the build, measure, learn loop of an MVP with phenomenal UX.

The hypothesis behind a minimum delightful product or process is just to delight a very small subset of end-users. It’s often the first step in the process of taking a product or service into the market.

The key difference between an MVP and an MDP model is:

–     MVP prioritizes a build, measure, learn loop – testing.

–     MDP prioritizes optimizing the product for UX [delight] rather than rapid iteration.

Both follow the “build only what you need” ideology but an MDP redefines ‘need’ to prioritize delighting the customer with a phenomenal user experience. This is crucial for a start-up launching today and it is often overlooked.

Because you only get one shot to make your MVP work.

Why not take out the guesswork to build an MDP first? That way you minimize the risk of landing in start-up purgatory, eliminate and reduce rapid trial and error, and remove inherent bias from the MVP phase.

Minimum Delightful Product in Action: The Story of Belongify

That afternoon, I sat across the table from Lorne who shared with me his rough idea for a start-up. 

He’d named it Advanceward: a system to build more connected teams. After a long one-hour conversation, we had a plan. 

For the idea to scale, Advanceward needed a demonstration that the process worked – with coherent data that the process was delightful for the end client and could drive results.

So we chalked out a plan: 

Take the Advanceward framework that existed as an Ideation IP and convert it into a working methodology with a real client by carefully curating the end-user experience.

So we moved away from a minimum viable product to a minimum delightful process .

It started off simple:

  • Lorne had only concepts that existed as a cumulation of years of his experience.
  • It needed to be distilled down to a system or process in no more than 60 minutes a session, maximum of 5 to 6 sessions.
  • The system needed to answer the question – could we foster a deeper sense of connection and create greater conditions of belonging within a team – remotely? 
  • By carefully optimizing the end-user experience with the intention to delight all the stakeholders involved across the entire process.

Then the question was:

  • Will those 5 -6 hours be delightful enough to add immense value to the client and get performance results so that it can become a minimum delightful product – which then becomes an MVP?

As it turned out, the MDP Advanceward was a resounding first round success

We then modified the MDP and improved the system while taking into account customer feedback. At this stage, the MDP now became our MVP, which then got tested again in the market and is now the scalable product that fosters greater conditions of belonging in the workplace known as Belongify.

Why You Need a Minimum Delightful Product [Process] to Test Your Startup Idea:

The fascinating thing about an MDP is how simple it is.

Because when a product is delightful it just makes sense. The experience can be tracked to be satisfying for the end-user. Plus, when you have this highly engaged feedback loop of great UX: you can get your idea adopted faster. 

Create higher satisfaction and as a result better word of mouth. 

Best part?

You can acquire early-stage feedback before committing to a Minimum Viable Product with a simple goal: have users love your product and get enough feedback to get to the MVP – and have raving fans along the way.

With an MDP, you also save money. 

Because you don’t need to invest in the expenses incurred with an MVP. For example, with Belongify we didn’t need an MVP: we just needed a working methodology and a client to set up a build, measure, and learn loop.

Take your idea from a napkin to an MDP:

Do you have an idea you believe can change the world?

With over 2 decades of experience in start-up and business consulting, I can help. Get in touch with me here and I’ll walk you through my purpose-built step-by-step system The Investigative Framework to get your knowledge-based idea from a napkin to a minimum delightful product that you can scale to an MVP.

Because here’s the truth: The idea to execution phase is fraught with uncertainty, anxiety, and second-guessing every single step.

But I promise you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Contact me today.

5 People Who Shouldn’t Ever Hire a Consultant to Build Their Personal Brand

It didn’t come as a surprise when a VP of one of the fastest-growing companies asked, “Lisa, can I really talk about and promote my new thriller as an author, on LinkedIn, considering I am the head of security and fraud at my company? Another retired CEO of a publicly traded company, now sitting on multiple boards, asked, “Lisa, do I really need a brand consultant to build my personal brand?”

I quipped back, “No you don’t. You can make a million mistakes, throw spaghetti against the wall, and hope something sticks along the way. Or you can be strategic and intentional and hire someone like me with 20+ years of experience doing this to get you there sooner.”

Both had substance to what they were saying:

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to build a company and personal brand all alone instead of hiring someone else? Nope. Because the reality is, if you’re like most executives, you are insanely busy. What happens when you don’t have the time to do this all yourself?

You get lost.

You get carried away by the next big project.

And in some cases, you might even end up suffering from the shiny object syndrome.

But then, should everyone invest in a consultant? Not really, no. In fact, there are 5 types of people who should avoid consultants like the plague.

Who are they?

Let’s find out.

1) The Get Me A Million Views Quick Type

Building a rock-solid business and personal brand takes time. It starts with an audit that takes time. Then a lot of back and forth to get clarity on messaging, what story you will tell others; that takes time. Then a plan of action takes time. Then execution takes time. See a consistent theme? There’s no quick and easy way to build a brand online. If you’re looking for quick results, don’t hire a consultant.

Because no one can build an authentic brand in a day.

2) The I Know More Than You Type

Why even hire a consultant? Because you need help – and why do you need help? Because it’s overwhelming to do it all alone. It’s important to find the right resources to get the clarity necessary to help you attack brand building strategically. That’s why it’s key to understand that help often starts with an acceptance that you need it.

Remember: no one can help you if you don’t allow them to do what they’ve spent 20+ years being an expert at.

3) The I Don’t Have Time to Get The Basics Right Type

Every great branding exercise starts with a detailed audit. Because in this day and age, whether you like it or not, your company, and you, already have an online brand. How is it positioned? What do people feel and think of you when they see you online? Is the message you are saying what you really mean? A confused mind has to burn way too many calories to understand what you are trying to say.

A brand audit uncovers it all. That’s step one.

Remember: unless you have the foundation just right, branding is essentially a futile exercise.

4) The Low Money No Problem Type

Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy your way to a better brand, better features, and better traction for dirt cheap? Nope, it’s a recipe for disaster. Because money’s just a means to an end – and the end, is to build a brand that stands the test of time.

That’s not just authentically you, but the ‘real’ you.

You can get published on Forbes today, but is what you’re writing, publishing, and creating really what you stand for, believe in, and can vouch for? That takes deep thinking, strategy, and long-term alignment with who you want to be remembered as and how you’ve created transformations for others along the way. Experience doesn’t come cheap.

Neither does expertise.

5) The I Won’t Look Within Type

Unfortunately, in this era of incessant noise, we’re at a place where the loudest voice is often considered the most authoritative. Anyone can choose to be someone they are not. But not everyone can be brave enough to be themselves and SHOW UP consistently.

That starts by looking within:

How do you want to be remembered? What drives you? Moves you? More importantly, how can you make transform the lives of others? How can you add value?

Personal branding is never about you, it’s about how you help others. You are just the supporting character in their story. Unless there’s a commitment to work together to figure these questions out first, there’s no point in hiring a consultant.

In fact, there’s no point in building a brand either.

If you’re still here:

Congrats: you thankfully don’t fall within these 5 personalities who should never hire a consultant. That means you understand that building a phenomenal and ‘real’ brand takes time, commitment, and a lot of deep thinking.

Because it’s tempting to believe that the most important question to figure out is: who am I really? And what does my company stand for?

In reality, these questions don’t matter as much. They’re important, sure. But let’s be honest: no one cares why you get up in the morning. People care that you get up, you show up for them, and take them from where they are today, to where they want to go.

Value – and how you can add value to your audience.
Now you must ask yourself: how can I do that in a way that’s scalable and repeatable?

That’s step one.

Something I can help with. Working with executives around the globe for 20+ years, I know how to build a personal and employee brand from scratch. Looking to build one that’s authentically you? First, download this free whitepaper on what employee and personal branding are, what they mean, and how billion-dollar companies build and scale one.

Then, get in touch.

You deserve a brand that reflects who you really are. To leave a legacy behind built on stories others will share about how you made them feel for generations to come.

It’s your obligation to the generations now and the ones that will come after them to share your knowledge with others. It’s your duty to share the experiences you’ve had to make the path for others to thrive, easier. It’s your responsibility to show up.

Don’t settle for anything less.

Be distinctive,
Lisa