Want to Build a Mobile App? Follow These 7 Steps First
It’s no wonder why mobile apps have captivated entrepreneurs for more than a decade. These miniature pockets of software have the potential to skyrocket to popularity, allowing old brands to capitalize on new markets and allowing genius basement inventors to have a platform through which they can reach the world.
One glance through the apps that became tech unicorns leads even the most grounded entrepreneur to wonder whether they could see similar financial success by developing their own idea into a marketable app.
But before you get too far ahead of yourself, there are some steps you’ll need to take.
Follow These Steps Before Building an App
Before you start shopping around for a mobile app developer, and before you start taking your idea too seriously, you should follow these important steps:
1. Understand the mobile app development process
First, familiarize yourself with the process of developing a custom mobile app from scratch. If you’ve never built an app before, you’re bound to find some surprises. It often takes a minimum of a few months to fully develop an app, costing tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars. During that time, your team of developers will be wireframing, designing, building out the back end, customizing for various operating systems, and running tests to make sure everything’s in functional order. Don’t let the time or costs take you by surprise.
2. Scrutinize your idea
You also shouldn’t assume your idea is a good one, or even a feasible one, without sufficient scrutiny. A quick dive into your target market should reveal whether or not your intended demographics would be interested in such functionality, and a quick conversation with an app developer should illuminate just how feasible it would be to turn your idea into a fully functional app.
3. Analyze the competition
Unless you’ve come up with something truly novel, you already have a handful of competitors on the market. Look hard for apps similar to yours that have been developed in the past. How popular are they? High popularity is a sign that your idea is a feasible one, but it will also make your app more difficult to market. How functional are they? Apps similar to yours that lack finesse or some other important element could be a valuable opportunity to capitalize on.
4. Consider a monetization strategy
Unless you’re creating the app as a form of charity, you’ll need to find some way to monetize your software. The income you generate with your app isn’t just about making a profit; it’s also about covering the ongoing expenses the app will face, including hosting costs, ongoing maintenance, and new updates. Fortunately, there are many monetization strategies to choose from; you could offer in-app advertisements or in-app purchases, for example, or you could offer a paid “upgraded” version of the app that offers a completely distinct set of features.
5. Create a full business plan
Building an app with the intentions of making money is a business model. And just like any business, it’s important to flesh out a business plan before you get started. It’s your opportunity to define your target demographics, analyze your competition, prepare a financial model, and identify both the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. Think of it as your master blueprint for the app moving forward.
6. Prepare a budget
As you’re developing the business plan, you’ll need to pay special attention to the financial element. How much money do you stand to make with this app? How much will it cost to develop? More importantly, how are you going to acquire the funds necessary to build the app? This is your chance to set aside or specifically seek out the funds you need to get the app made (and keep it running).
7. Talk to other app developers and entrepreneurs
After you have a decent understanding of all the above points, track down some other app developers and entrepreneurs who have been through the process of creating a mobile app from scratch. They may help you identify issues you’d otherwise neglect, or may be able to offer advice that can guide you on your journey.
Adjusting the Plan
Chances are, at some point, new information will come to light that forces your plan to change. A new competitor might emerge to threaten your market share. You might find out the app will cost more or take more time to develop than you originally thought. In any case, if you’re going to succeed, you need to be adaptable. Business plans change all the time, and that isn’t a bad thing—it’s simply a necessary response to the changing market conditions. Stay on your toes and be willing to undergo that evolution if you want your app to be successful.