To build, or not to build… that is the question.

As an entrepreneur, I have a lot of ideas. Some might be the next “great” thing and yet most, well they are probably just crap. And as an investor, I sit in a lot of meetings with early-stage companies who want to be convincing.

And yet, when it comes to informing the product roadmap or determining which half of the marketing budget is working, we are often at a loss. At least initially. And we are left making educated guesses.

And all of this while burning cash and time.

Of course, we’ve read the right books, and we have our Lean processes, but in practice, we have to decide quickly and iterate often. And getting a team to agree which version of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and which user/market inputs we start with can be a challenge. The same goes for our Business Model Canvas, as initial assumptions and iterations matter. A lot.

The real opportunity may just be in getting a group of unbiased users at scale. Yesterday.

So, to quote one of my old professors with crazy hair (mumbling over and over again), “what to do? … what to do? …”

To design and then to build Lean is the logical first step. So we do. And we test. And we iterate. And building in line with the assumptions of the Lean Canvas could determine just how “big” we can get or how “lean” we must remain.

And success is sure, right?

Yes, it is. Well, that is if you can optimize the process of determining what is Minimum and yet most Viable. And accomplish at scale. All while getting paid and maximizing value. Quickly.

Easy! (/sarcasm)

After all, innovation might just be what happens as we create real value dynamically. And not just when we believe our own static bull $hit.

There is a great deal that goes into this process, and we’ll often start with customer/user feedback and conversion assumption testing. As this should be one of the first things to evaluate when making these early decisions, not just to inform the product roadmap, but also in positioning product-market fit, and building out the business while optimizing capital in support of its vision and mission.

Again, the key is to be relevant and well-positioned quickly and at a large scale, so the tighter we make this process, the better.

I have been researching and living this a lot over the years. And as you can imagine, I have made my fair share of mistakes. But in the end, I’ve come up with a few helpful resources and experiences I’d like to share. I am also evaluating my idea (I know, crazy huh?), and I would like your input, so let’s talk.

Here are some resources I have recently evaluated, some better than others:

StartUpLift

Online User Testing Tool | Loop11

Website Usability Testing Service – Feedback Army

WhatUsersDo | Usability and User Testing

Validately – Test a feature before you write code

Usability Testing | Website & Mobile App User Testing

Remote Usability Testing – UserFeel.com

See your website through other people’s eyes

TestingTime – Recruiting Test Users

UserTesting | User Experience Research Platform

Test management service & test case management tool

Peanut Labs – DIY Sample and Surveys Do-It-Yourself social and market research sample and surveys

And if you want my “private — off the record” feedback, feel free to connect with me directly — my email and number can be found here.

What am I missing, what else have you used? Let me know, and I’ll add to my list to test/eval.

As for dynamic; size and scale in line with and in support of the business… more to come on this.

Interested? Let’s talk.

After all, we should probably just build it. Smartly.

This post first published at medium.com/@mrjamesmartin

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