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They say that getting started is the hardest part of tackling a new project. I’d say this is especially true when you are looking to get a startup off of the ground. The steps that lay before you can seem endless, which makes you feel overwhelmed. This is how many people get stuck before they even begin.
To combat this feeling of paralysis, I’d like to propose combining two ideas: mindfulness and minimum viable product.
Mindfulness is the act of building awareness by redirecting your thoughts to the present moment without judgment. Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is a method of validating your startup idea early in the development process. This way, you can get user feedback early and make improvements before investing too much in production. Whether or not you are familiar with these ideas, you may be wondering how they can be combined.
Cultivating mindfulness can help you validate your startup idea through the Minimum Viable Product method by adding a layer of awareness to your process. By viewing the first version of your project through a lens of mindfulness, you will detect your own biases, gain richer insights from potential customer interviews, and stay true to the core functionality of the MVP.
A Mindful MVP approach may be just what you need to get your next idea off of the ground. Below are a few ways mindfulness can help you in validating your startup ideas.
Everyone has a dream project that they would love to bring to life one day. However, these ideas quickly become overwhelming to us. The seemingly endless steps, drawn-out processes, and countless hours of labor required can prevent us from ever starting in the first place. The MVP method allows you to get started right away by eliminating your elaborate thoughts and focusing on the essentials instead.
This act of cutting out the excess worries, thoughts, and fears is what mindfulness is all about. If working on your project brings up a fear of failure or memories of past mistakes, employing a mindful mindset can help you steer back to the present. Honing in on the present and piecing together the essential needs for your minimum viable product will result in a solid start to your project. Before you know it, you’ll be moving toward your goals without all of the effort and dread you may have anticipated.
When validating your startup idea, it is important to detect and confront your own biases right away. Any unknown biases you have could become a barrier and eventually compromise the success of your startup. By testing your startup idea through the MVP method, it interacts with the target market straight away. This provides a unique opportunity to observe the areas that need improvement. However, if you are blinded by any biases, you may miss these areas, as well as the opportunity to improve them.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Approaching your minimum viable product with added awareness will allow you to catch any minute details that could be improved. As you learn to suspend judgment, your biases will fall away, and you’ll be able to see your startup idea from a more objective standpoint. After all, the MVP method is an opportunity to learn, and you would not want to hinder that with your own biases, or self-imposed limitations.
A key goal of the MVP method is getting real user feedback on your startup idea. Usually, this is done by conducting interviews of a small batch of potential customers within your target market. Doing this allows you to hear what your potential customers think of this first version of your startup idea. This feedback will inform improvements you make for the next version, so listening intently, catching patterns, and noticing the problems and motivations of future customers is a crucial step for your project.
Biases, worries, and fears all get in the way of effective communication. Building mindfulness skills will help you avoid these distractions by gently reminding you to focus on the task at hand. In the absence of these overwhelming factors, you can fully focus on your interviews with potential customers, immersing into their worlds to gain an in-depth look at their ideas. Intentional focus on your customers’ feedback will allow you to get to the heart of their needs to find better ways of solving their problems.
After conducting interviews with potential customers, you’ll be armed with the information you need to improve upon your minimum viable product. The mindful approach you took will have undoubtedly offered unique insights for updating your startup idea and getting it ready for the market. You can now use this highly-detailed information to align your startup more precisely with the motivations of your customers.
Gently nudging your mind back to the present allows you to maintain a clear vision of where you see your startup going. Improvements will be finely-tuned to reflect the needs of your customers and any other insights you have gained along the way. Mindfulness helps achieve the razor-sharp focus you need during this critical phase. By taking this approach, you’re sure to get the most out of your minimum viable product by removing unnecessary thoughts. You’ll also be able to get your startup up and running in the shortest amount of time.
The MVP method is designed to allow you to observe your idea interacting with your target market as quickly as possible. As previously mentioned, this allows the unique opportunity of getting customer feedback before you’ve invested very much in production. Mindfully processing this feedback will reveal key factors for improving your startup. Let’s take a deeper look at what some of these factors are:
These are all valuable insights to gain during your execution of the MVP method. Going through this learning process without the limitations of excess thoughts or worries will help you paint a clear picture of the needs of your target market without your mental chatter getting in the way.
Although the minimum viable product process is meant to cut out complications, it may be easy to become overwhelmed by all of the requirements for building a startup. You may catch yourself going into specifics, creating long to-do lists, over-complicating the process, or even becoming paralyzed by all of the steps ahead.
This is, perhaps, when mindfulness will be most useful to you. The skills you learn by practicing mindfulness will allow you to catch yourself if you stray away from the simple, action-based steps of the MVP. The more you practice mindfulness, the quicker you will be able to catch yourself when you indulge in overwhelming, counterproductive thinking. This will allow you to quickly refocus on the important factors, prioritize your thoughts with greater ease, and leave the more complicated steps for another day.
With any new business endeavor, good communication is an essential skill to have. Whether your effort to validate your startup idea requires you to collaborate with a team, conduct potential customer interviews, or lead a group of researchers, you’ll need to make sure your messages are clear and concise, and you are listening with equal intention.
Mindfulness helps you both deliver messages effectively and listen deeply. A deliberate focus on the discussions surrounding your startup idea will help avoid miscommunications and setbacks. You may think you are a great communicator, but when you are testing a minimum viable product, it’s worth cultivating an even more mindful approach. This way, each discussion is steeped in awareness and placed in the spotlight, so no detail will go overlooked, and you and your team will stay on the same page throughout the process.
If you are aiming to validate a startup idea, a mindful approach to the minimum viable product method may be the best way to get started with the least amount of effort or expense. The MVP allows your idea to interact with the target market quickly, while an approach of mindfulness generates a level of awareness to help you capture the finer details.
Mindfulness, combined with the minimum viable product method, allows for improved communication, more thorough insights from potential customer interviews, and a clear vision of the direction you need to head in order to get your startup off the ground. By combining these two ideas, you can eliminate your overwhelming thoughts and finally create the startup you’ve always envisioned.
Published in MinfulDevMag issue #5 – Back to Issue TOC