How To Build a Minimal Viable Product That Actually Works

rube

The majority of startups don’t fail because of bad ideas.

They fail because of unnecessary assumptions, poor execution, and the failure to validate a hypothesis early.

Many people have written about the art of developing Minimal Viable Product. Does it really warrant ANOTHER blog post from another guy that wants to pretend he actually knows something about startups?

YES.

This is one of the rare topics that can never have enough written about it. It’s a mentality that I believe every entrepreneur should focus on mastering – and inherently it’s extremely difficult to master simply because it’s human nature to complicate things.

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Bending Reality: The Strange Connection Between Breakthroughs and Belief

bending-reality

Note: I originally wrote this post for the Walnut St. Labs blog and decided to publish here as well for my Startup Workout readers to enjoy.

Belief is a powerful biological weapon of disruption.

It has initiated the rise of religions, contributed to the fall of empires, taken humanity to the moon and back, and can completely change how we perceive the world around us.

The enormous role that this somewhat mystical force plays in the success of a new product or business cannot be overstated.

One of the biggest misconceptions about entrepreneurship is that you need to have a crazy high risk tolerance or be oblivious to the almost impossible odds of success.

Most successful entrepreneurs are aware that the deck is almost always stacked in the house’s favor. However, by using belief as a catalyst, they are able to produce the cards needed to win (breakthrough ideas, talent, money) – seemingly at random.

Except the results are not random – and the powerful effect that belief has on those involved with the project essentially allows you to count cards by altering your perception of reality. [ Continue Reading… ]

Confirmed: How One Crazy Image Increased My Newsletter Sign Up Rate By Almost 20%

email-dog

Did you know that 80% of new email subscribers who confirm their subscription do so in the first five minutes?

If you have a newsletter or mailing list and are not working to improve the confirmation rate you may be missing out on hundreds or even thousands of potential subscribers each year.

Today I want to show you a simple trick I used to dramatically increase my confirmation rate, which effectively increased the overall sign up rate of my mailing list by almost 20%.

At the current rate my list is growing, this could amount to an additional 7,200 subscribers over the next six months!

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Motivation: 121 Epic Business Quotes To Inspire Your Success

Motivational Business Quotes

Starting a business is like attempting to climb up a mountain during a hurricane. It’s not a question of if you will feel frustrated, tired, and burnt out, but when.

Your only option is to keep climbing – because if you stop there is zero chance you’ll make it to the top.

To keep you motivated during your ascent, I’ve assembled a massive list of epic and inspiring quotes about business and entrepreneurship.

If you want to stay motivated, you can follow me on Twitter where I post many of these great quotes throughout the week.
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Zero To Hero: How I Got 50+ Powerful Bloggers To Share My Content

How To Get People To Share Your Content

Quick Note: It’s hard to believe it has only been three weeks since I launched Startup Workout. Being featured on Lifehacker, Reddit and a dozen or so other places is amazing and completely inspiring. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has supported the site and made the launch so successful – you rock!

It’s easy to think of the internet as a mystical place completely detached from reality. Abstract concepts like links, search rankings, and social media profiles would be hard to explain to someone who traveled in time from the 1800s to 2013.

I’ve found that sometimes by letting these abstract elements go, and focusing on the most basic of interactions, it is possible to build a much better foundation for your business online.
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Time is Money: A Cheat Sheet To Help Boost Your Productivity and Get Sh*t Done

get-things-done-2

When I started my first business in college I was working crazy long hours, without much concern for my overall productivity. This wasn’t a sustainable way to live and after feeling burnt I realized a serious change was necessary.

Embracing productivity was that change.

Increasing my productivity has improved my overall pace as an entrepreneur. This allows me to accomplish the same amount of work in less time, giving me more time to dedicate to my number one priority, family.

Pacing yourself is essential because it prevents you from using all of your energy during the first few miles of the race (in this case the start up phase of a new project or business), allowing you to run further while improving your overall time.

Today I want to show you how I dramatically boosted my productivity and reclaimed my life from the time devouring monster of running a business.
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Shower Genius: A Simple Mindhack To Unleash Creativity and Supercharge Your Brain

ideas in the shower

During a recent conversation with a long time friend, I decided to pitch him an idea for a new product that I’m thinking about creating. Once I was finished explaining the initial concept, he asked the inevitable question.

“Wow great idea, how did you ever think of that??”

Sure, I could have made something up and said it was a breakthrough that I achieved with 20 designers and engineers, after six months of market research, but I always find the truth to be more entertaining.

So I replied, “The shower”

After going through this a few times, I’ve found that it’s good for a laugh, probably because most people aren’t expecting such an honest answer.

The somewhat odd truth is that many of my best ideas have happened while thinking in the shower.

I find it fascinating that companies spend millions of dollars to create beautiful campuses and work environments that promote creativity, and yet there is a very real chance that more great ideas are actually born while standing under a $30 shower head.

So I decided to do a little research, and as it turns out, the shower is actually an ideal environment for creative thinking. Here’s why…
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Creating Demand: The Secret Psychology Behind a $100 Million Product Launch

Rocket-Launch

Everyone dreams of launching a product to instant success and millions of dollars in sales. Gaining some initial traction can be a slow and painstaking process, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

The team behind Mailbox created a product that propelled them to millions of users almost overnight and a $100 million acquisition in less than a month.

The success of Mailbox and their quick $100m acquisition was, in many ways, a direct result of a brilliantly designed launch sequence and viral launch page that engineered demand through basic human psychology.

This viral launch sequence was the result of Mailbox (knowingly or unknowingly) embracing three very powerful marketing strategies with their launch page.

Here’s what I cover in this guide:

  • How Mailbox created a brilliant viral launch page that lead to a $100 million dollar acquisition.
  • The three ingredients of a viral launch page.
  • How to induce Emotional Product Attachment Syndrome (EPAS)
  • A simple sales trick that companies like Tesla use to create demand.

Also, keep in mind that Mailbox built a phenomenal product. Their app could have been a flop, but it wasn’t – it was awesome and I would like to think this is why they were acquired… however…

With the exception of a few positive early reviews, the initial traction had very little to do with how great this app actually was (simply because almost no one was able to actually use it!) and everything to do with a brilliant marketing campaign that all started with a simple launch page and pitch.

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Don’t Underestimate The Power of Traditional Media

t21-300x235Note: This article was originally published on my previous blog in 2011. I’ve decided that it is worthy of being republished on Startup Workout.

These days everyone is so caught up with Twitter and Facebook marketing that it’s easy to forget about traditional press releases and the importance of the major media outlets.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to experience first hand the inner workings of traditional media and the massive scale of cable news.

The $15,000 Ad in The Washington Post

Arnold Berk is a long time family friend, Korean War veteran, and businessman who built and sold a multimillion dollar tax business.

Arnold called me up in late 2008 during the financial meltdown to discuss a plan he had come up with to help protect Main Street America from Wall Street – he called it “The Berk Plan” (you can see it here). He wanted to know if I was interested in helping him promote it online since he heard that was my world. I agreed to help, I thought his ideas were solid, more importantly my middle name is Burke so I had a vested interest to see it through – even if the spelling was a bit off.

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“Kevin You’re Stating the Obvious”

2284271871_7faf6eb743-223x300Note: This article was originally published on my previous blog in 2011. I’ve decided that it is worthy of being republished on Startup Workout.

A few weeks ago I gave some advice on a business forum. I noticed that the largest thread on the entire forum was focused on business book reviews – 20+ pages and hundreds of posts from members spending countless hours reading these business books when they could be taking action.

I’ve always learned by doing, so I decided to chime in and share my philosophy – Stop reading and start taking action!

Someone responded and informed me that I “was stating the obvious” and gave me a whole list of reasons why reading is good and he was going to make seven figures from all of the books he read (note that he said make, not made).

There are people like this all around us. They believe that bringing an idea to market and building a profitable business requires a certain type of elite knowledge only gained from books written by guru’s who became rich selling business books.

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