In this episode of Business Tech Unraveled, we explore the concept of minimal viable product (MVP) and through my own personal journey of developing 4 different solutions in a short period of time. From creating in-person and online curriculums to delivering group coaching programs, gain practical insights and tools for small business owners to overcome the perfection cycle and launch your products effectively.

If you have a question or would like to submit feedback for this episode, you can do that by clicking here and Asking Zakia 

5 Ways to Incorporate Minimal Viable Product (MVP):

1. Break down the complexity: Understand the minimum set of features your product needs to provide value to the customer.

2. Craft the experience: Start with a basic version that captures the essence of the user experience and iterate based on feedback.

3. Create an impactful training platform: Focus on clarity, engagement, and actionability when delivering educational content or complex information.

4. Select the right tools: Choose technologies and tools that align with your goals, simplify processes, and enhance user experience.

5. Embrace iterative development and feedback: Launch your MVP and actively seek out and apply feedback to continuously evolve your product in response to real needs in the market.

Tools Discussed

  1. Canva – Use this to create presentations, workbooks and more
  2. Upcoach – Online Coaching & Course platform
  3. Heartbeat – Online Community and Course Platform
  4. Castmagic – Leverage AI to create multiple forms of content
  5. Rodecaster Pro 2 – Equipment to record podcasts
Please note that these are my affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. 

Zakia Ringgold [00:00:00]:
This is Business Tech Unraveled. I’m your host, Zakia Ringgold, where we dive into the heart of leveraging tech for innovation and entrepreneur. In today’s episode, we’re peeling back the layers on one of the most crucial yet often misunderstood concepts in the startup world, the minimal viable product or MVP. So have you ever found yourself trapped in the perfection loop? Constantly adding feature upon feature only to realize your product or project is no closer to seeing the light of day. You are not alone. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 simple steps to move your projects and your products forward, as well as share some tools you can use if you are creating learning experiences for your customers or clients. Today, we are actually tackling how to break free from this perfection cycle, streamlining your processes, and most importantly, bringing your vision to market. Because that’s what it’s all about.

Zakia Ringgold [00:01:12]:
It does no good for anybody if it’s on a piece of paper or stuck in your head. So let me set the stage in case you are new here. I currently run 3 companies, Live Soap School to teach natural product formulation, business tech lab to provide software as a service solutions in the forms of email marketing, social media scheduling, and setting up online stores. And I also run virtual experience design agency to produce hybrid conferences. About 2 months ago, I found myself needing to create 4 different solutions in a very short period of time. My workshop series proposal was accepted to teach students in a high school about the creator economy using soap making, of course. I was also transitioning my live soap school to more of a community platform instead of a course platform in and of itself. To provide more of a transformative experience instead of a tactile experience.

Zakia Ringgold [00:02:17]:
I was also contracted to provide a 12 week group coaching program for entrepreneurs. And I had 2 new clients accept my highest tier SaaS solution. Not to mention 2 speaking engagements, which were scheduled 3 weeks apart, both focused on tech for business and AI. So my plate was pretty full. And as you can imagine, I was pretty overwhelmed. Now I should pause here and say that this didn’t just fall in my lap. I’ve known many of these were coming down the pike, but procrastination got the best of me and the negative self talk started to take over. And some people will call this self sabotage, negative talk, whatever you wanna call it.

Zakia Ringgold [00:03:05]:
But I told myself, well, you may not even get it. Don’t worry so much about it. And if I’m being honest, I do this pretty often. It’s my own distorted form of self preservation. So just in case the deal doesn’t go through, I won’t be too let down. The good news is I’m aware of it when it starts to happen. The bad news is I still put some things off until the last possible minute, which often creates a vicious cycle of panic mode and then get it done. But I digress.

Zakia Ringgold [00:03:39]:
So let me take you through this journey starting with the overwhelming moment that I realized the magnitude of what I had to accomplish in a very short period of time. The task at hand for me was not just about content creation. It was about crafting experiences that resonated and delivered the value. Because I had delivered this content in one way, shape or form before, but it was packaging it in a way that would create a memorable experience. So from the high school students diving into the creator economy all the way to the entrepreneurs seeking to enhance their digital presence, the diversity in the audiences acquired a tailored approach for each. It wasn’t just a set it and forget it and do the one thing. So first up was the in person curriculum for the high school. This was supposed to be designed to immerse students in the process of creating tangible products they could take to market like soap, lotion, and bath bombs, alongside digital content creation with blogging, podcasting and video creation.

Zakia Ringgold [00:04:54]:
Because of the hands on nature of this workshop, it was all about the prep for me and ensuring I had all of the necessary ingredients so they could make the products. This wouldn’t need so much of a presentation style, but more of a checklist with step by step instructions. At least that’s what I thought. Our first group of students did well, but I did observe that I could have provided more instruction leading up to the hands on. And the students would benefit from having a place to take notes or review the material for and continue to build on their content creation journey. Additionally, the goal of this workshop series was to provide the basic concepts of business ownerships. Students really needed to think about cost versus profit. What’s the difference between a digital product versus a physical product? How to monetize what it is that they do with the various methods with sponsorships and affiliate links and ebooks, all of those methods.

Zakia Ringgold [00:06:00]:
And they also needed to develop a plan. Do market research and more. So this is where I iterated again and leveraged Canva to create those presentations and the workbook. I also used crowd party, which is an online polling tool that students could use throughout the workshops. Now this did 2 things. It kept them engaged because of course they need an excuse to use their phone. And number 2, it gave me real time feedback that I could see during the workshop shop and I could refer back to as I was iterating for the next group. And so that proved to be invaluable.

Zakia Ringgold [00:06:39]:
The next iteration was the creation of a finished digital product. This is where I had the students leverage chat GPT to brainstorm ideas. They use the equipment with the RODEcaster Pro 2 to record their own podcast and cast magic to create multiple pieces of content from the podcast. The results were amazing and I’m sure I’m going to continue to iterate by leveraging AI throughout the workshop series so we can teach them the good and the bad of leveraging AI. Next up was the online curriculum for 2 different audiences. The first audience was for my students in Live Soap School. For the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve been providing courses on how to make and sell products online. For the live soap school curriculum, the goal for me was to foster both a learning and a community environment.

Zakia Ringgold [00:07:41]:
So selecting the right technology was crucial. And I chose heartbeat as because it was delivery and community building. For the first iteration, we got the content and community laid out. I invited a small beta group of alumni to come in and give feedback on the experience. It was clear that the bones were there, but it needed more meat. People weren’t sure what to do or how to make the most out of the community. So what I then did was intentionally built out the onboarding experience with the video walk throughs and automations to encourage specific actions at specific times. This is still a work in progress and I am now inviting another group in to get their feedback on the experience.

Zakia Ringgold [00:08:30]:
I will compare the results and probably iterate once again. In the 3rd program is the entrepreneurial group coaching. So on the digital front, our technology training curriculum needed a different strategy. Again, I don’t want people to just use a tool. I want them to have a strategy. I want them to understand why they’re doing it. You can have all the tools in the world, but if there’s no strategy behind it you’re just throwing spaghetti against the wall. So, I recognize the importance of not just teaching the tools but ensuring comprehension.

Zakia Ringgold [00:09:07]:
I introduced a coaching element through the UpCoach platform. Now this platform is incredible for coaches. It allows me to structure the coaching, assign smart documents so that all of the entrepreneurs that are enrolled, they can constantly stay engaged and connected with me with some structured questions on what questions do you have? What were your wins for the week? What were some of the challenges? What would you like us to cover in our next live session together? Because this helps me to ensure that I’m delivering exactly what they need while keeping the structure of the program. So the first iteration I built out the bones and waited for the feedback. And the good news is, the first group loved it. And there are very minor changes that I will need to incorporate. And remember, you’re a business owner so you’re always thinking about how are you going to scale what it is that you’re doing. And for me, this is scaling to other entrepreneur programs.

Zakia Ringgold [00:10:11]:
I imagine that for future iterations, it’ll focus on automating assignments and resources ensuring that no matter which program they come through, everyone has a unique experience and consistent experiences. Now I haven’t even gotten to the presentations yet, but hopefully you get the point. So how do you apply this MVP approach in your business? I’ve got 5 steps for you. So if you don’t already have a pen and paper, grab it now because this is where you are going to take action. The first thing that I want you to do is break down the complexity. Remember, when I was faced with the overwhelming task of creating 4 curriculums, I began by outlining what was essential for each, leading to a common theme amongst all of them. Your action step is to start your MVP by breaking down your idea into its core components. Ask yourself, what is the minimum set of features my product needs to provide value to the customer? It has to be valuable.

Zakia Ringgold [00:11:24]:
It can’t just be, oh, I’m gonna throw this out there, see what they say. Start with the value first and make sure you’re delivering that and then worry about the bells and whistles. This approach will definitely help you focus on what’s truly important avoiding complex stuff at the outset because the complexity is where we get bogged down. So let’s try and get something minimal. The second thing is to craft the experience. For the high school curriculum, I started with just a basic presentation and the materials needed for creating the products. Based on the feedback, I iterated by adding workbooks and enriching the student experience where they were actually creating the content throughout the workshop series. So your action step is to think about the experience you want your users to have with your MVP.

Zakia Ringgold [00:12:19]:
Start with a basic version that captures the essence of that experience, Then iterate based on what they tell you. Remember, your MVP is a living project that should evolve to better meet your users needs. The third thing is to create an impactful training platform. And this is primarily for my entrepreneurs who are creating digital products, courses, or coaching experiences that are delivered online. My challenge was to ensure that the information was not only delivered but also understood and actionable And also creating a sense of accountability. By leveraging a coaching platform and a community platform and then using that feedback, we made necessary adjustments to enhance the overall experience. So your action for this one is when your MVP involves educational content or complex information, focus on the clarity and the engagement and use feedback to fine tune the way people are onboarded to it, how you present the information and ensure that it’s accessible, actionable, and your audience will appreciate you for that. The 4th thing is where I’m hoping you will find immense value in Business Tech Lab.

Zakia Ringgold [00:13:46]:
Because the 4th thing is selecting the right tools. Our goal here for this podcast as well as on the website and all of our offerings is to help you in selecting the right tools for your business need. What I see a lot of business owners do is they find a tool and then they try and make their product fit that tool. We are flipping that on its head and saying no, we’re starting with what is the outcome we want for our product or our service and then matching the right tool for that. And so, what we will do in here is we will constantly test the different tools, tell you how we feel about them, why they’re good, why they’re bad so that you at least have a starting point. Because I knew of various tools when I was deciding on these experiences. And that helped me to quickly sidestep things that I didn’t need. So for you, you want to make sure that you’re selecting the right tools for what you’re creating.

Zakia Ringgold [00:14:50]:
I used Canva for creating the materials, UpCoach for coaching platform, and Heartbeat for community building. Each tool was selected for its ability to facilitate the desired outcome effectively. So your action step is to always choose technologies and tools that are aligned with your goals. The right tools should simplify your processes. If you have to spend 50 years figuring out how to do it, there’s probably something better suited for what you need. It also should enhance the user experience and the engagement and support your growth without adding complexity. And the 5th thing is iterative development and feedback. For me, the iteration process driven by feedback from actual users.

Zakia Ringgold [00:15:43]:
Not what I thought they wanted, what I’m planning on doing, but from here’s the product that I’ve provided for you. What do you need changed? What’s working impactfully? That was crucial in refining the curriculums and making them more effective. So that is what I want you all to do. Your action step is to embrace iteration. Launch your MVP and then actively seek out and most importantly, apply the feedback that you get. This process ensures your product continuously evolves in response to real needs in the market. So my journey of developing the 4 curriculums taught me the importance of starting small, being receptive to feedback, and being willing to adapt. This approach is at the heart of successful MVP development.

Zakia Ringgold [00:16:40]:
As you develop yours, keep the focus on developing a core experience that resonates with your users. Be open to feedback and ready to iterate. This mindset will be invaluable as you go through the development process. It also helps you to create a product that truly meets your user’s needs. So no more perfection. And just like that, we’ve come to the end of another episode here at Business Tech Unraveled. We’ve traveled through the maze of MVP development together, breaking down complexities, rafting experiences, selecting the right tools, and embracing the iteration journey. That’s what you have to do.

Zakia Ringgold [00:17:28]:
By following these steps informed by real world experience, you can navigate your own minimal viable product with confidence. And remember, the goal is always to learn, adapt, and evolve your product in alignment with what your users actually need. That ensures that your MVP is not just viable but truly valuable to the audience. Now, if you are eager to explore the tools that we mentioned today like Canva, Up Coach, Heartbeat, Rodecaster, or if you’re just looking for a bit of inspiration, make sure you swing by the show notes at forward slash podcast. I’ve got all the links laid out there for you, making it easy to dive deeper into anything I’ve covered today. And, you know, this journey of unraveling business tech is not just mine or yours, it’s ours collectively. So if you’ve got a question, a story to share, or some feedback on this episode, I genuinely love to hear from you. Visit businesseclab.comforward/podcast and click ask Zakiyah.

Zakia Ringgold [00:18:48]:
Reach out and let’s keep this conversation going. Your insights, challenges, your victories are what make this journey so incredibly rewarding. Who knows? Your question or insights might just spark the topic of our next episode. I am so glad that you took the time to listen. Thank you for tuning in, for sharing this space with me, and for being a part of Business Tech Unraveled. The path to innovation is rarely a straight line, but we can navigate it with confidence, curiosity, and a bit of tech savvy know how. Until next time, keep unraveling and keep innovating. This is Zakiyah Ringgold, signing off for now.

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