Master the Art of Business
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A Minimum Viable Offer is an offer that provides the smallest number of benefits necessary to make a sale. In other words, it's a Prototype that people are willing to purchase.
The purpose of the Minimum Viable Offer is to minimize the risk of the project by keeping the investment small and quickly discovering what works and what doesn't.
In order to conduct a Shadow Test, you need something to sell. Fortunately, you don't have to create the entire offer before you start selling.
A Minimum Viable Offer is an offer that promises and provides the smallest number of benefits necessary to produce an actual sale. A Minimum Viable Offer is essentially a Prototype that's been developed to the point that someone will actually pull out their wallet and commit to making a purchase.
It doesn't have to be complicated: FitBit's Minimum Viable Offer was a prototype, a description, and a few computer renderings. All you need to do is convey enough information to convince a real potential customer to buy.
Creating a Minimum Viable Offer is useful because it's impossible to predict 100% accurately what will work in advance. You don't want to invest a ton of time and money in something that has no chance of working, and the quicker you can figure out if your idea will work or not, the better off you'll be.
Since Feedback from prospective customers and paid-in-full orders are very different things, creating a Minimum Viable Offer allows you to start collecting data from real customers as quickly as possible, testing the idea's CAs and helping you learn as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of making a business-ending investment decision.
Here's how the hypothetical yoga studio we discussed earlier could use a Minimum Viable Offer and shadow testing to evaluate their CAs:
This method of testing is simple, fast, and inexpensive. Services like Kickstarter.com are making tests like these easy: all it takes to allow potential customers to preorder is a video, a few sketches or renderings, and basic sales copy. Spending a few hours and a few hundred dollars testing your Critical Assumptions is a very good use of money, particularly if your findings indicate your business idea won’t work.
The purpose of starting with a Minimum Viable Offer is minimizing your risk. By keeping the investments small, incremental, and learning-oriented, you'll be able to quickly discover what works and what doesn't. If the idea is promising, you're in a great position to make it happen.
If your assumptions don't hold true, you're able to cut your losses without losing your shirt or your dignity.
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn
Master the Art of Business