Should I Create an App? Where do I Start?
The question of how to make an app is one that we get a lot. The process of making an app can be a long and intensive journey. For one, it’s a tough market to crack: there’s a lot of competition out there, with over 2 million apps on Google Play and Apple Store alone.
But, apps are making more and more revenue each and every year. A great example is Pokemon Go which generated over $1 billion in revenue in 2016. According to TechCrunch consumer spending on apps is only set to increase and forecasted to hit an annual total of $156.5 billion by 2022. If you’re thinking about starting an app business, the time is now.
According to some statistics, up to 90% of startups fail, and apps based businesses are no exception. Amongst the 10% of successful app business, there are key similarities one can observe. With thorough strategic planning, an app can dramatically increase its chances of success for the future.
It’s not enough to just have an amazing idea. You need to ensure that you have a robust business strategy in place before you launch your new venture. According to Forbes, you need to cover the following bases if you’re going to be a success:
- Does your app have a market? 42% of failures are attributed to a lack of need for the product.
- Are you glancing over important factors? A successful CEO works on their business, not in their business. You’ll need eyes on every aspect of your project.
- Are you projecting rapid growth? This attracts investors and can stop you from running out of cash during the early start-up days.
- Is your team versatile? Not just in skillset but in mindset? Prepare to adjust ideas and even tear everything down to start again. Stubbornness leads to failure.
As a beginner, it might seem impossible to turn your app idea into a reality. We’re here to help you on your way! In this article, we’ll show you how to start an app business, from taking the first steps towards exploring your idea to turning it into a successful and profitable product.
How to Come up with an App Idea
Before you can even start, you need to come up with your million dollar idea. Your product needs to be valuable, and the best way of doing that is to solve a problem. If you can identify issues that waste people’s time, money or effort and work out a way to eliminate that suffering, you’re well on your way to creating a loyal legion of users.
The best place to begin when you’re trying to come up with an app idea is with what you already know. Think about your work-life, your home-life and your hobbies: are there any frustrations that you wish there was a solution to?
If not, speak with friends and family and find out whether there are aspects of their daily lives that they wish they could improve. You could even research the ways existing apps solve problems and look into applying the same technique to an industry you’re familiar with.
However you come up with your idea, problem-solving is a hugely profitable business. Consider Shazam, for example. It takes the age-old annoyance of not knowing the name of the awesome song that’s playing in a bar or coffee shop and solves it quickly and easily. This single-function app might be a simple idea, but when Apple confirmed its intentions of buying the company in 2017 the deal was said to be $400 million (although some valuations put the company’s price tag as high as $1 billion).
If you can’t come up with an idea, don’t worry. Finding and noting problems is a skill that can be learned with proper training. We cover this in detail in our article here, and we also have another helpful article here which covers how to create the next million dollar app.
Problem-solving isn’t the only factor you should be considering when it comes to choosing the idea for your app. You also need to start thinking about how you’re going to monetize your product. It’s not necessarily an essential step at this stage as some apps like Instagram acquired hundreds of thousands of users before they implemented their monetization strategy. With that being said, it’s never too early or a bad idea to start thinking about how you might make money through your app.
How to Validate Your App Idea
So, you’ve come up with the idea for your app. You think it’s great and you’re certain that it could be the next big thing. But, how do you actually know that your idea is as great as you think it is? There are around 50,000 new apps released on the Apple App Store every month, so you need to be certain that yours can stand up to the competition.
An important stage of making an app is to validate your ideas before you commit to creating them. It’s vital that you don’t skip this step, because if you charge ahead with your app with an idea which isn’t feasible, you’re going to lose a lot of money.
Validation will give you crucial insights and will counteract the personal bias we all have when it comes to our own ideas. It’ll also give you the opportunity to further consolidate your idea and to strengthen and improve what you already have.
There are a couple of key ways of getting validation for your app:
Tell Friends, Family, Co-workers, and Strangers –
The general public is your target market, so it makes perfect sense to go to them first. By discussing your ideas with as many people as possible, you’ll get a better idea of how actual potential users feel about your product. They may also have suggestions on how to build on your idea, and they might also share other frustrations that you could look to solve with this app or even a follow-up project.
If you’re worried about sharing your genius idea with people, don’t be. It’s very unlikely that anyone will steal your idea. And, ideas are only ideas without execution, so you should feel confident that you can talk about your plans without worrying that someone might beat you to the punch.
Contact an App Developer to Discuss Your Idea –
Once you’ve shared your idea with friends and family, take it to an app developer to make sure that it’s technically feasible. App developers know the business inside out and can determine which ideas are market ready and those which need more thought.
Starting a relationship with an app developer is a foot in the right direction. If you’ve never started a business before, a conversation with a reputable app developer will guide you to the right course of action, whether that be additional ideation or the process of raising capital.
Again, if you’re concerned about your ideas being stolen, that won’t happen. App developers only provide a service and they have no intentions of taking your idea and creating it themselves. If you’re still unsure, choose a developer who will pre-sign a non-disclosure agreement before you discuss your idea. We offer a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation and we’ll always keep your ideas safe and private.
How to Fund the Development of Your App
We’ll go into how much it costs to launch an app shortly, but it’s safe to say they cost a fair amount. It’s not just the actual production of the app that costs money; you’ll also need funds to cover marketing and operational costs.
Don’t panic if you don’t have the funds to cover your entire project up front: there are several options available to you with regards to securing the capital to make your idea a reality.
- Venture capitalists – Professionally managed funds that invest in new companies with potential.
- Angel investors – Individuals with spare cash and an interest in startups who work alone or as part of a network to offer capital and advice.
- Crowdfunding – Offering your target demographic a pre-ordered exclusive or appealing deal in exchange for a product or service. This is an increasingly popular method of funding projects.
- Self-funding – Using your own savings can be a good option for first-time entrepreneurs.
Business loans and bank loans are also a traditional method of raising capital. You can also look out for competitions and government programs offering start-up capital to new businesses.
If you’re choosing to seek out external funding, you need to understand that some entrepreneurs are more investable than others. So, how do you ensure that you’re an attractive candidate for funding? Well, a successful track record in your industry is always hugely beneficial, but as a beginner, it’s unlikely that you’ll have that.
Instead, you can start building a community of potential customers via mediums like Facebook groups, mailing lists and leveraging social media platforms to create a buzz about your app. A ready-made audience is usually an attractive proposition to potential investors.
You can also start drumming up some press in the early days of your app. Contact any publication that you think might be interested in your project and scour HARO every day to seek out opportunities to provide quotes in your area of expertise. Think about it: if people are showing interest in your app, investors are more likely to follow suit too.
It’s a great idea to ensure that you have the following supportive resources prepared so you’re ready to wow any potential investors (you never know when you might meet a person who could be open to financing a startup):
- Elevator Pitch – a short description of your company and your idea that anyone can understand in one minute.
- A Business Plan and Case – what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.
- Research Demographics – prove that you have an audience and explain who they are.
- Features List – what will your app do? A rapid prototype of the app’s wireframe would be useful supporting material.
- An Estimated Timeline and Cost – investors want to know how much money you need and when you aim to make that money back.
How Much Does an App Cost?
If you’re wondering how much it costs to develop, build, and market an app, the simple answer is that the cost can vary hugely depending on the type of app that you want to create. As a rule, though, you can expect to spend between $80,000-$250,000+ to get your app on the market.
Here’s an idea of how much different types of apps are likely to cost:
- Single-function apps – $80,000
- Simple database apps – $100,000 – $150,000
- Advanced apps with multiple features – $150,000 – $250,000
- Gaming apps – $100,000+
Keep in mind that the more specialist and complex your app, the more it’s going to cost to create. If you can streamline your idea to keep costs down then definitely do it: you can always add features in later releases.
For more in-depth information about securing funds for your app, take a look at this article.
How to Build Your App
When it comes to how to make an app, there are several options at your disposal. Before you go all out and sign a contract with an app development company to build you a final product, start with a minimal viable product (MVP).
Building a final product before an MVP is a common mistake that first-time entrepreneurs often make.
Technopedia defines an MVP as a product which is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The benefit of this is that you spend less money while still being able to test whether or not your idea works. Imagine investing in a full-scale version of your app just to find out that your idea doesn’t work. It’s every CEO’s nightmare and it’s fully avoidable with an MVP.
Here are the best options for getting your MVP made:
App Developers –
In this digital age, there are thousands of app developers at your disposal and they are often the best option for bringing your MVP to fruition. Generally, they will have a full team of experts available to manage your account, validate your ideas, conduct market research, and liaise with business analysts. This generally adds up to the best user experience, monetization strategy and robust functionality in your app.
With so many developers available, it’s important to find the right one for you. They need to understand your product, your goals, and your company’s culture. More importantly, they need to be onboard and passionate about guiding you through the entire process.
If you find the perfect freelancer, it’s possible to build an MVP with great design and robust UX for less capital than an App Developer would charge. But, choose the wrong person and you’ll end up with a terrible product and a lot of wasted time and money.
According to Entrepreneur, the best way to find the right freelancer is to first consider your extended network for people that you or your friends already know. Then, check out local colleges and universities for up and coming developers. If neither of those methods works, look into freelance outlets such as Upwork and Fiverr.
Remember though, freelancers don’t have the huge teams behind them that app developers can offer, so you won’t get the same level of service and they might not be able to successfully take a complex app all the way to market. It’s very rare to find a freelancer who is a master of ideation, monetization strategy, intuitive UX/UI design, robust programming, funding advice and marketing strategy.
Build it Yourself –
If neither of these options appeals, you can learn to develop the app yourself. There are plenty of tutorials and online courses available if you want to learn the basics of app building. Platforms like Appy Pie provide drag-and-drop options that don’t require any coding.
However, it’s unlikely this DIY method will result in a quality final product. It’s only really recommendable if your app is a hobby or just for fun. Building it yourself is going to be time-consuming and you won’t have access to the designers, coders, or business experts that professional app developers can offer.
Marketing your App
Ok, you’ve built your app and it’s looking and performing great. What’s next? Now you need to market it and make sure that your potential users know your product is out there. Your marketing strategy will depend on your app and its target audience, but as a general guide, these are some of the key marketing channels that you’ll want to target:
App Store Optimisation –
ASO works in a similar fashion to search engine optimisation (SEO) – it determines the most relevant app result for each search query. Algorithms determine which app is most suitable for each search query based on multiple factors including title, keywords, descriptions, reviews and many more.
The main purpose of ASO is to make your app more discoverable which typically results in higher downloads. Considering that 63% of apps are discovered through App Store searches, it really is worth the time investment to optimize your titles, descriptions and branding.
For a complete guide to app store optimization, click here.
Social Media Marketing –
Social media is a low-cost, high-reach method of marketing which subtly blends into user generated content. Targeted ads can help you get your app in front of people that are likely to download your app. Posting content related to your app is also a great way to engage with your users as well as attract new ones.
Working with influencers is also a great way of utilizing social media to get the word out about your newly-launched app. Beware that consumers can smell a marketing ploy a mile away, so only work with influencers that are genuinely interested in your product.
Content Marketing –
Demand Metric state that 90% of organizations use content marketing, so it’s undoubtedly a hugely popular method of marketing your company shouldn’t be missing out on. Content marketing is the practice of creating valuable and interesting content that simultaneously advertises your business.
You can do this with blogs on your own website or guest posts on other relevant sites. The aim is for your content to be discovered via search engine optimisation (SEO), increase your brand recognition, or be used as engagement material on social media and paid ads.
Many experts agree that content marketing is one of the most effective methods of achieving conversions and return on investment. Content marketing is certainly a method which should not be overlooked.
Google Adwords –
Paying Google to suggest your app as the top ranking search result can work wonders for your download figures. Using the correct Adwords can ensure your success relating to your industry, niche, or the problem that your app solves.
Adwords target users during moments of intent when they’re actively looking for a solution to their problem. This intelligent targeting improves your chance of capturing ideal users. You will of course pay a higher premium for access to your target audience who frequent these keywords.
Ongoing App Support
The final thing you need to consider when starting an app business is the ongoing support that your product will need. It’s a common mistake to think that once an app is up and running it will just look after itself, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your app will need regular updates and refreshments, and any bugs will need to be fixed quickly if you’re to avoid negative reviews. The type of support your app needs will depend on what you’ve created, but even the simplest app will need some love and attention from time to time.
Forgetting this important detail can bring a successful app to its knees. Think of it this way – placing an emphasis and budget on app maintenance is one of the best ways to look after your users and ensure their continued usage.
Your app developer should offer an ongoing maintenance service to make sure you’re covered when things inevitably go wrong.
To avoid being left alone to your own devices post development, make sure your app developer or freelancer offers some sort of maintenance program before you sign any contracts.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking into how to make an app and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but all it really takes is a good amount of planning. You don’t even need technical ability, just a great idea, a good business plan, and a strong team guiding you through the process.
It’s exciting to develop an app and we know it can be tempting to rush ahead with your idea, but if you take your time, follow our steps, and work with a great development team, your chances of success are much greater.
It’s a lot to learn but we’re here to support you and your idea: get in touch to take the next step towards your app being the next hit!