What Is a Minimum Usable Product?

By Taryn Oesch

In our PowerUP Micro-Enterprise classes, we teach entrepreneurs to identify a minimum usable product (MUP) to center their business plan on. The MUP is the simplest product the entrepreneur can sell to their customers. Later, the entrepreneur may add one or more products based on their interests and customer demand. However, we’ve found that at least at the beginning of a business, and especially for entrepreneurs with autism/IDD, it’s easier and more effective to focus on a single product.

Having an MUP also enables entrepreneurs to test one product to see how successful it will be before putting work into more of them.

Identifying a Minimum Usable Product

A product is a minimum usable product if it:

  • Is the simplest product a customer will buy (For example, a PowerUP artist frames some of her paintings instead of selling the canvas alone. It’s a simple way to make the painting a much more appealing product.)
  • Is a product the entrepreneur can make relatively easily (Another PowerUP entrepreneur makes decorative pillows instead of, for example, sofa slipcovers)
  • Is a product that a large number of customers will buy (For example, a high-end, expensive perfume is a great product for a large company that can sell to a small number of wealthy customers. Soaps, on the other hand, are a great MUP for a self-employed craftsman – and one of our PowerUP entrepreneurs has been making soaps for a while and is now expanding into wholesale.)

The Minimum Lovable Product

Laurence McCahill, co-founder of The Startup School, prefers the term “minimum lovable product” instead of “minimum usable product” or “minimum viable product.” After all, a product might be usable – but do people want to use it? That’s the key to a successful business.

Our PowerUP micro-enterprise entrepreneurs love their products, and with a well-thought-out business plan and a network of key supporters to back them up, their customers love the products, too.