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MVP Launch and Learn

Hover on November 24, 2020
Laptop screen reads "just start" an encouragement to launch MVP

The truth is, no matter how much work and time you put into it, your small business launch might never feel truly ready. Regardless of whether you work on your own or with a team, the number of hours that you’ve put into your project or company, or how much support you have, your initial launch is never going to be exactly how you envisioned it—but don’t let that stop you. You need to reframe how you approach it and think of it as an opportunity to learn rather than a need to succeed. 

We realize this is all easier said than done. However, there’s a path every successful entrepreneur has taken. Let us help guide you on your journey to launching your business and get you closer to making your dream a reality.

Stop Dreaming of Launching and Just… Launch

Y Combinator, an investment and startup firm, uses the now extremely popular approach amongst the startup community – the ‘ship early, ship often’ philosophy. Shipping early and often is the idea that products should be launched, relaunched, reinvented and updated on a cyclical basis. Shipping early and often will mean that your first product might not necessarily reflect your ‘final’ product. It means you will have to adapt as you learn and grow. 

Launching your minimum viable product (MVP) refers to launching a product that has the necessary features for your users, but might not yet have all the functionality, glitz and glamour of a final product. Releasing this type of product, which may feel unfinished to you, can be challenging since you’ve been dreaming about creating your ideal product for some time. However, once your MVP is a solid product, going this route is a great way of getting over the hurdle of actually enacting your small business launch.

Visions of the ‘perfect product’ are what prevent many founders and creators from taking the frightening step toward launching. Seth Godin’s blog and his post on the fear of shipping highlights the dread people feel when their reputation, skills or life’s work opens itself up to criticism and, potentially, failure. While you may feel alone in this fear, remember that it’s something every entrepreneur encounters. You need to decide to ignore your inner negative voice and get ready to launch and learn.

Before Your Small Business Launch

If the public can’t find you or information about your company or product, it’s going to be pretty hard to get them on board. You’ve got a great name, now you’ll need a great domain name where your big idea will live. The easiest way to do this is by using a trusted domain registrar to get the perfect domain name, making your business easy to find. Hover has hundreds of domain names that will make your business stand out and effectively portray your brand. Following this, acquiring web hosting and either using a website builder to create a site or hiring a professional to do so will ensure you’ve got a competitive online advantage with your MVP launch.

Before actually going live, you’ll want to do a test run. Have a friend make a purchase to see if everything works as it should. Send test emails to ensure they’re delivered and have your friend try contacting you as well (you’re clearly going to owe this friend dinner). If you’re setting up automatic emails and messages, ensure these work as well.

Pro tip: It’s no secret that social media is one of the entrepreneur’s most powerful marketing tools. When preparing for a launch, make sure your social media accounts are created ahead of time and already have some engaging content for visitors to engage with.

During Launch

The day you launch, you need to be on top of any and all communications. Depending on the product or service you’re planning to launch, you’ll be doing a number of things to make sure it all goes smoothly. You might be on social media promoting your product and answering questions or comments. You might be making sure your website is functioning properly and, if selling a product, that all sales are going through. You may be checking emails, making phone calls or dealing directly with sales or clients. Honestly, you’ll most likely be doing a bit of all those things. And that’s just the first day. Even if your MVP launch is slower or less extravagant, the week of the launch and every week after will (hopefully) only add more work to your plate!

Pro tip: Stay on top of your social media during your small business launch. Prep and share as many marketing materials as you can. Don’t forget to find the appropriate hashtags. Ask a friend to monitor some of these accounts if you can’t do it yourself and give them a cheat sheet of appropriate replies.

After Your Small Business MVP Launch

Here’s where it’ll be clear that regardless of how “perfect” the launch was, making it happen was the right decision. You cannot beat receiving countless diverse opinions on your company or product. This new information will let you know what you need to improve, what should stay the same, and if you’re lucky, what direction is likely to resonate with your desired demographic. Similar to during your launch, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the performance of both your product and your online presence. While the volume is likely to drop off for a while, you’re likely to get feedback and notice trends that are even more helpful. With traffic that’s more indicative of your desired demographic, you’ll get a clearer picture of your path ahead.

Pro tip: Provide a form of incentive to encourage feedback from your customers. Whether it be a coupon toward future purchases, a freebie or a gift card, make it unique and on-brand.

Launch and Learn

We’ll say it again: ship early, ship often. Consider going with an MVP if necessary. Don’t cut corners, but accept that a well-thought-out small business launch, perfect or not, is your first step toward success. Make learning your goal and everything that happens after will help you adapt and grow. 

Looking for more ideas and expert advice on launching a new business and seeing it thrive? Hover’s complete Startup Guide was designed to help you begin your exciting new path. Hover’s also here to get you started on the right foot with the perfect domain name.