by Jacob Aldridge

We’re about to hit 3 months since launch day. In the sink-or-swim of online business, we’re still paddling in the kiddies’ pool. And I blame the concept of MVP.

We launched fast. There were barely three weeks between starting our market research, and launching our first destination email.

That’s the spirit of MVP: launch with the minimum viable product you can conjure so you can learn from the actual market – not just theory.

Here’s the risk: when you start small, your early data will also be small. But in comparison, it will look bigger than it actually is.

Some examples:

  • Our subscriber base has nearly tripled since launch day. That’s great, but it actually needs to be another 5x larger to be worth anything;
  • There are travel blogs out there that talk about 10 visitors a day; we’re not a blog, and we’re now disappointed with less than 100 – but our number needs to be north of 10,000;
  • We’ve been too caught up in the quantity of traffic (“great, 2,000 reddit visitors”) over the quality of traffic for our business purposes (subscribers as a result: 3);
  • And similar stories for social media – we had 20 new Facebook likes / Twitter followers today; numbers that look relatively great from our small base but independently are far too small to help drive a proper web-based business.

I’ve talked before about challenging ourselves to think not about where the next subscriber will come from; but rather ask ourselves “Where we will get the next 50 subscribers tomorrow?”.

That’s the kind of thinking we need, and haven’t focused on.

The excuses we have are compelling:

  • Each of us have other senior positions (in my case, I also own my coach-consulting firm);
  • Our first niche – travel – requires premium content to stand out, so it takes us 20 hours / week just to do that;
  • And hey, we’re learning a lot, and have already identified a completely unrelated product opportunity solely as a result of running everydaydream holiday.

Of course the fact that we can make all these excuses is responsible for us staying small, and I don’t actually blame the concept of MVP. The corollary of MVP is ‘launch early, iterate often’ – and it’s the iterating that we’re not doing often enough. Why not? Because it’s easy to convince ourselves that 10% growth here and there is great, when in reality we have reason to be disappointed in 1,110% growth.

This isn’t a cry for help, just an observation from experience:
if your business model needs you to hit big numbers,
make sure your MVP doesn’t make small numbers feel like success.


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