Step 2: Plan & Build Your Minimum Viable Product

This content is for Fizzle members only.

Now that you have chosen the type of product you’ll make for your initial product or service, it’s time to 1). plan it out, and 2). build it.

Fast Track: 30 day challenge

We highly recommend taking the fast track on your first product or service. This means choosing a very specific problem, for a very specific audience, with a very specific deadline.

So we created the 30-day “Just Ship It” Challenge. This is an email based course that guides you through each step of building and launching your product in 30 days.

Now, you may feel like taking it a little slower, which is what the rest of this step will guide you through.

Planning and Building Your Primary Revenue Channel

Here are the essential steps you need to take to plan and build your product, service or other revenue channel:

1. Explore

Regardless of which channel you chose, you should spend some time planning now before starting on your product or revenue channel.

The first step in planning is getting to know your channel inside and out. Learn about how your type of product or service is built. Planning to write an ebook? Learn the ins and outs of how ebooks are built and sold. Creating a physical product? Go waist deep on learning about how a physical product is designed, sourced, manufactured and shipped.

You need to have a good idea of how your product will be built, so you can plan effectively, and so you’ll be prepared for any hurdles that come your way.

2. Make a plan

Once you have a solid background on how products like yours are built, it’s time to make a plan.

The first rule of planning your first product is: it needs to be much smaller than you think it does.

Remember, your goal at this point is to create a revenue channel that tests your business hypothesis. You want to get something in front of people that proves whether they’re interested in paying for such a solution.

That’s where the term minimum viable product comes in. It’s the simplest possible product that solves a problem for your customers in a compelling enough way that they’ll pay for it.

Whatever grand plans you have at this point, it’s time to cull just a small subset of essential features that would still make a viable product. Another way to think about this challenge is to time-box it. What could you realistically build in one month? Not “one month that turns into six months,” what could you build in 30 days from start to finish, along with all the other responsibilities and tasks you have to handle?

At this point, the real demon you’re facing isn’t whether your product is good enough, it’s whether you finish your product at all. The urge is to create something masterful, something that will amaze your customers. The problem is, you aren’t even sure about what your customers want or need just yet, and even if you were 100% certain, you aren’t capable of pulling off the full vision right now.

Your goal is just to get a foot in the door. Your first product is like getting a job in the mailroom: you’ll learn the ropes, become more and more useful and start climbing the ladder to CEO.

Our best advice is to set a hard completion date for your product. Set a date far enough out that you’ll have time to finish most of your product plan. Then, don’t let the date slip! Remove features if you have to, but the date is the date.

This is how we launched Fizzle originally. We gave ourselves 8 weeks to build a version that we could start charging for. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t complete, but we opened the doors on the day we said we would, and people started paying. We got some amazing feedback right away that shaped the product and made it much better than if we had kept working without feedback.

Customers are more forgiving about minimal products than you might think. Many of them even appreciate focused/minimal products more than behemoth ones. Think of starting small as an advantage and a helpful constraint, not as an insurmountable challenge.

Now, write a brief plan of:

  • what your product will contain,
  • what it will help your customers accomplish,
  • how you will develop it,
  • and what your development schedule will be.

Again, our 30-day Just Ship It Challenge is a solid option for developing your first product on a tight schedule.

3. Build

Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to build! Building your product is the perfect time to ask for help and feedback from the Fizzle community, or during an Office Hours or Fizzle Friday session.

Every situation is different, and you’ll have plenty of questions along the way. So, please, use Fizzle for support and ask for help!

How do I know when I’m done?

Your product is done when your completion date arrives. Pencils down, people!

Remember: we need to get this thing out into the world so we can make it improvements from the first round of feedback.

OK, you have lots of work to do! This step is done when your product is complete.