15 Deadly MVP Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Article by:
Maria Arinkina
13 min
Which MVP mistakes can you avoid to ensure a smoother launch without resources wasted? Keep reading to learn about the common mistakes when building an MVP to modify and strengthen your strategy.

Choosing to follow the minimum viable product path when developing products is equally popular among early-stage startups and large-scale businesses. This approach allows you to test your ideas with a relatively low input of resources and effort, gradually upgrading and iterating as you go. The concept is rather straightforward, and the MVP benefits seem obvious. And yet, many things can go wrong.

Sure enough, MVPs are about testing and running experiments, but some stumbles can be lethal. Think of this guide on MVP mistakes to avoid as your "tsunami warning system" to safeguard you from a failed MVP launch.

15 Deadliest Mistakes When Building an MVP

Choosing the MVP development strategy can undeniably lead to great results. Both first-time entrepreneurs and seasoned ones fall into the same traps, leading to failure over and over again. Let's overview the minimum viable product mistakes and possible pitfalls to dodge.

15 Worst MVP Mistakes

Mistake 1: Coming Up With a Problem for Your Solution

Starting to build a product without ensuring that the problem exists is simply fatal. First goes the problem, then goes the solution, not vice versa.

Even if you're sure that you've aced the task of finding a business idea that'll make you a millionaire, even if you have a gut feeling that this product idea is genius, even if you can't hold it for even just one minute because of the exciting buzz. Answer the question: "Why am I creating this?"

Don't come up with a product first and then try to figure out what it can be applied for. If your problem is imaginary (not proven existing), then chances are that you'll waste your time creating something completely useless or irrelevant.

Introducing such a product on the market could essentially be a waste of resources. Don't make this deadly MVP mistake, and remember that you should know who you're building the product for and have proof that this problem needs solving.

Mistake 2: Skipping Research

This leads us to the second "must-do": do your research before you write even a single line of code. Yes, conducting market research requires a bunch of time and effort. But this step is fundamental and will allow you to omit tons of mistakes when developing an MVP.

You have to clearly identify your target audience and make buyer personas. Who are these people? What are their preferences? Which pain points do they face? Without knowing this, you may be casting a net that's too broad and trying to build a product "for everyone". It doesn't work like that since you need proof of concept. And you might expand your target groups as your solution gains traction and grows.

Is there a market need? You should study the market and look into the industry changes, state, and trends to calculate market size realistically. You must also determine your direct competitors and investigate what they're doing to understand their strategy, value proposition, strengths, and weaknesses.

Why do you have to do all this? Because it can help you shape your hypotheses or save you from the harsh discovery that you've built something with no chance of surviving. And yes, research is not a one-time task.

Mistake 3: Not Having a Plan

Building a minimum viable product shouldn't be a spontaneous adventure without a set course. Which direction are you going in? What's the purpose behind all of this? What are your goals?

The better you plan out your work, the less time and fewer resources you'll waste on garboil and do-overs. There are many MVP examples that prove how important it is to have a plan.

Is your value proposition clear enough to help you achieve product-market fit? Is your business model scalable? It's all about being strategic.

Focus on the essentials first. Prioritize development in the shortest time frames when forming your MVP strategy. Assign people who'll be responsible for specific areas. Draw up milestones with estimated time frames. Define what you'll leave out for the post-MVP initiation. This is hard work, of course, but it pays off and keeps the involved parties on track.

Mistake 4: Ending Up With Feature Overload

It's really easy to get piled under feature creep. Having too many ideas is generally distracting, and things can get out of control. At this point, you wouldn't want to diffuse your resources and clutter the solution with functionality, as you're at the MVP phase.

Solve a specific problem. How many features truly make a difference? Which ones form the backbone of your product? Which of them directly correlates with your value proposition? Some entrepreneurs even start with a minimum marketable feature or concentrate on just two or three killer ones.

Approach feature prioritization by sorting all of your ideas. It'll be easier to decide on your must-include functionality and put the good-to-have stuff aside for the next post-release milestones. Plus, keep in mind that excessive features directly influence MVP costs, and it's counterproductive, too, stalling your launch date.

Mistake 5: Launching a Half-Cooked Product

Yes, the term minimum viable product (MVP) has the word "minimum" in it, yet it shouldn't be interpreted too directly. As we've noted previously, you need to pinpoint the must-have features and focus on bringing this set to life in the shortest possible time frames to test the viability of your ideas. But this doesn't give you the green light to release an unfinished product.

Your MVP must solve the user problem even with limited functionality, otherwise it's not an MVP you can "serve". Low-quality execution is simply not acceptable. This could be a problem if amateurs are building the early version of the product (we'll talk about this point later).

Yet, you have to mind that users have really high expectations. So you can't let them down and lose their trust by putting a solution before them that's not functional or is simply bad. By this, we imply glitchy, not tested thoroughly enough, and with a poor MVP design and illogical user experience. Re-check multiple times to ensure everything is polished and that your solution (although limited in functionality) is free from bugs, has intuitive UX, and is easy in terms of usability. Building a clickable prototype to test things out really helps as well.

Don't expect your early users to let such flaws slide. They honestly won't care that this is just an early product version, as since they are spending their time on your product, they expect quality. So before you approve the MVP release, ask yourself, "Does this bring enough value not to disappoint the users?"

Mistake 6: Ignoring Solution Security

Here's the thing: you can sacrifice some things when you're building a minimum viable product, but data safety and cybersecurity shouldn't be among them. If your early adopters entrust you with their personal data, you have to protect it by all means and ensure that you don't put the solution's security on the back burner of your product development roadmap.

Cyber threats and data breaches can be highly deadly, not to mention that they usually have unpleasant legal consequences. This is a risk you wouldn't want to take (by the way, legal trouble is among the common reasons for startup failure).

Mistake 7: Taking Too Long to Launch and Not Being Agile

You have to strike a balance here. There's no average benchmark as to how much time you should spend building an MVP. Yet, the faster you develop, the quicker you'll hit the market. And there are plenty of MVP tools that can help you accelerate multiple processes.

What if someone else releases something really similar sooner than you do? What if the market isn't ready to wait for your solution for a few years? Speedier release is for your own good (provided that you don't repeat common mistakes during MVP development and your solution is secure, has undergone careful QA testing, and works well, of course).

Speed beats perfection. And such an agile MVP approach is applicable to the entire cycle of development. You have to be quick, flexible, and prepared to learn, analyze, iterate, and repeat. That's what the best practices of the lean startup framework teach us, and the method has worked for many.

Mistake 8: Building a Disposable Product

Yes, you want to launch things fast. But, at times, going for low-fidelity MVP types or taking the shortcut path (for example, using a no-code template builder) may lead you to a disposable product, which is one of the nastiest MVP mistakes. That is, you'll have to build from the ground up anyway. Buy nice or buy twice, you know?

The same goes for scalability. If your MVP has poor architecture and tech background in general, how do you expect it to handle all the changes you plan to make and features to add on? It has to be capable of scaling well, otherwise, spoiler, a big chunk of what you've done will go bye-bye.

On the flip side, overcomplicating the tech side of MVPs might not be necessary (unless you're building a complex high-tech product). Heavy logic might affect performance and make it hard for the solution to have the required flexibility for the future. Furthermore, it might cost you more and backpedal your launch on the market. Thus, try to keep things simple and efficient (if possible, revise your tech stack early on). 

Mistake 9: Not Thinking Through Your Monetization Strategy

Don't expect your early solution to become profitable very fast, that's not what an MVP is usually built for. But you should plan out how it'll be bringing you cash.

How do you decide which price tag to put? Well, if you have an in-depth understanding of your target audience (i.e., their income, preferences, etc.), this can already hint you at the appropriate price range. Plus, if you've studied your competitors front and back, then you should also know which of the best pricing strategies to try out. So, you'll likely hit the spot with pricing after a few modifications and tweaks.

Likewise, you need to give your overall sales and marketing strategies due thought as you need to know how to sell the product. Which channels of distribution are appropriate for reaching your audience? How extensive is your sales cycle? These are big questions to find answers to.

Mistake 10: Not Counting Your Money

Being irresponsible with your cash is never good, and this applies to MVP development, too. Just as an airplane's runway lane in an airport has an ending point, your MVP or startup budget should be well-planned, counting in all the major expenses.

If you spend too much from the outset, you might be out of money by the time you need it to work on add-ons or consequent upgrades during the after MVP stage. One way to safeguard your budget is to limit your spending on non-essential things. This includes everything from excessive full-time in-house hires to prioritizing the development of core features. Another option is to set aside some cash for a rainy day, as having a reserve "stash" never hurts.

Mistake 11: Neglecting Your Metrics

You're building an MVP to obtain validated learnings. And, similar to defining your MVP goals, you need metrics that'll help you measure progress and other vitals. This will definitely help you stay more focused on what really matters.

Having undefined success metrics is one of the MVP mistakes. Without them, it's very likely that you'll miss the red flags. Properly selecting and monitoring performance metrics and KPIs can help you stay on track, adjust the heading, and enhance your decision-making. Yet, collecting data just for the sake of it is a meaningless waste of time, since you need to keep an eye on the dynamics and use it as a tool.

Mistake 12: Not Collecting or Analyzing Feedback

Testing idea feasibility and hypothesis validation were among the core reasons you're building a minimum viable product in the first place, right? You want to gain insights and learn. And while it may be surprising, feedback is commonly ignored during the MVP stage of the product development life cycle.

This is one of the obvious MVP mistakes, of course. First, you should have a system in place for collecting feedback. Next, you need to look into the obtained data, segment repetitive comments or mentions, and process this information logically so it can help you make more informed decisions.

Fair enough, feedback can be different in terms of business value, so don't treat all of it the same. For example, your mom's opinion (unless she's a representative of your target audience) might not be as valuable as some stranger's opinion from your target group.

But the bottom line is that the feedback you're gathering also needs your attention. Evaluate the impact, prioritize the insights, decide whether a change is needed, and act on your findings timely. Listen to those who are using your MVP, as this will definitely help you make improvements and move towards having a minimum lovable product people truly enjoy.

Mistake 13: Putting Continuous Learning on Pause

There are many MVP testing methods that you can put into practice to find answers to your questions. And the worst thing you can do is not have an organized approach to learning. So, step 1: get a knowledge management system. Jot down your hypotheses, take notes on the experiments or ideas you've tested, and document your findings and major takeaways. You've achieved this invaluable knowledge, so why leave it to gather dust when it can be used to improve things?

It can get disappointing at times, we get it. Some of your hypotheses will fail, and you'll likely make wrong turns. But you've got to keep learning even if you think you have a "maximum viable product".

Staying lean in the long run helps many thriving companies. There's always a chance to discover new opportunities you haven't thought about before. Maybe you'll need a product or startup pivot? You'll never find out if you hit the pause button.

Mistake 14: Lying to People

Surely, you may even be using super-basic high-fidelity product versions like a concierge MVP to test the waters. But whatever you do, never overpromise or lie. Fake metrics, testimonials, or whatever can do irreversible damage to your brand and reputation.

And, honestly, if you're focusing your attention on vanity metrics that make you feel good, it won't get you far either. So, don't deceive people (be it your clients, your potential buyers, your team, or even yourself).

Mistake 15: Hiring the Wrong People

On top of everything, developing an MVP is usually a time-sensitive matter. So, the fewer erasing, do-overs, and starting from square one, the better. You'll save time, effort, and lots of money. Therefore, you have to be really smart about who will be building your MVP.

If you don't have the required tech skills yourself, you'll have to hire people to delegate the matter. Some opt for talent on freelancer platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, however it's pretty tricky to form a team from individual freelancers scattered across multiple locations or even time zones.

A time- and cost-effective alternative to hiring in-house is reaching out to MVP development companies that specialize in bringing high-quality early products to life in rather short time frames. In this event, you get a hold of a well-versed and experienced team that can completely take over the entire process from the discovery phase to prototyping, design, development, testing, and release. Plus, it is likely that you'll get lots of advice and recommendations on how to cut corners, save cash, and modify your MVP development strategy, as such teams usually have plenty of MVP projects in their portfolios to fall back on.

Need help with MVP development?

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Final Say on Mistakes to Avoid with MVP Creation

Developing a minimum viable product has a set of best practices. Do your research, know your target audience, study your competitors and the market. Polish your value proposition and select the finest minimum feature set to portray the product's essence. Choose your tech stack wisely, build quickly, test thoroughly, and keep your timeframes short. Then, release the product, collect data, learn, iterate, then do it once more.

Easier said than done, right? Striking a balance is unquestionably hard, as there are so many unknowns. If you need a hand with your project, Upsilon's team provides MVP development services for startups and other businesses. We'll be glad to share our expertise and help you bring a high-quality MVP to life in under 3 months. So, don't be shy to reach out to share your thoughts!

FAQ

1. What are the main reasons for MVP failure?

Multiple things can cause a minimum viable product to fail, including these MVP mistakes:

  • lack of research and having only guesses about the product’s market need;
  • stuffing too many features into the product;
  • taking too long to hit the market;
  • building a disposable solution due to an inappropriate tech stack or an amateur team.

2. Which MVP mistakes are most common?

Not ensuring that the problem exists before you start building the product is among the worst mistakes with MVPs. The same goes for neglecting feature prioritization and overcrowding the early version of the product. Ignoring data analytics and feedback is often lethal as well.

3. How can I avoid common MVP mistakes?

Some of the ways to avoid MVP mistakes are:

  • Conducting in-depth and thorough research
  • Prioritizing the features, focusing on core functionality that provides value to the users
  • Finding a great team to execute high-quality MVP development
  • Using feedback and other data to make informed decisions
  • Staying lean, iterating, and continuing to learn

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