So, you’ve got an idea for an app, now you want to start a business……?
Are you sick of the Corporate grind? Global revenue from smartphone apps in 2017 rose, for the first time, to a new high of $88 billion. The forecast is for that value to triple by 2020.
Lured by these conspicuous profits, ever larger number of people are capitalizing on their own ingenious idea, and putting together their own app business, to make the most of the opportunity.
If it’s your first time entering the entrepreneurial arena, you might be wondering how to approach the whole thing. Here are 5 tricks and tips on how to be successful as you build your Mobile App startup and get your first app product to market.
Start your app business with a friend
I’ve started 5 websites and 2 businesses. I have a number of ex-colleagues and friends who have started their own business and exited with a great deal of money. All of us agree that the first thing to do, when you’re starting out on the concept of building your idea, is to do it with a friend.
Entrepreneurship, of any sort is a deeply personal experience. Running your own business will come with long hours, daily defeats and nebulous victories. You will want to share the experience of the good times, lean on someone when things go wrong and, most importantly of all, have someone who understands what it’s like, to talk it through, as you progress.
Many technology investment funds and VCs want to see at least 2 people working on a new technology business. Their thinking is that if you can’t convince one other person, to go in to business with you, then your idea probably isn’t that good.
Do everything mobile
One of the advantages of running your own business, is being able to do it, for the most part, from any physical location. Mobile computing is now every bit as good as the office or desktop equivalent and that means that for techno-nomads, work is now an activity, not a location.
My advice is to spend whatever money on a mobile phone, that’s required to provide you one that you’ll actually use. Make sure it has a big screen and a decent battery. Get yourself a large, affordable,4G mobile data. Now the important bit:be prepared to work 24×7.
The biggest single defining characteristic of successful app business owners is ‘grit’ –the ability to keep going in the face of a setback. If you’re committing to running your own app business, you need to be prepared to take full responsibility for the success of the business, and to work to make that happen – whatever time of the day or night. For years.
Keep it cheap – spend your money on marketing and design
If you haven’t read ‘The Lean Start-up’ then get a copy and read it. It’s a bible for technology business start up companies. It will explain to you in very simple terms how you can do the key thing you need to – build a sustainable business on top of your app idea. Importantly, the book will explain how you can validate your key assumptions without wasting money.
The design of your app is of fundamental performance. It embodies your brand and helps your users achieve their goal with your app. The better designed the app, the more they will achieve their goal (you call that conversion in your business case. People’s expectations of their apps are set by the best apps they use. You’re competing with The Iconic, Amazon.com and Facebook’s app. Spend money on design.
Check in with real customers regularly
Once launched, you will start to check your analytics, regularly. You will quickly come to understand the importance of the analytics you have installed to measure your app – these are a proxy for intelligence about your users and will provide you invaluable information. However, even analytics can’t tell you WHY your user did what they did on that screen at that time.
Regular customer / user testing will help you get behind the analytics reports and establish what is really blocking your users from achieving their aim. Then you can eliminate the obstacle.
Agencies or UX consultants can talk you through how to do this. Also, at the shallow end of the pool, you can show your app to friends and family and provide them a simple task to complete – and see how they get on. If they are confused, your customers almost certainly will be, too.
Think about brand before you start
If you’re a developer or someone who has worked in technical operations for most of your working career, the concept of a brand is probably something that won’t occur to you until you’re well underway. The subject does, however, need deep consideration.
In the early days, the brand you have won’t do you any favours. No-one knows about it yet so it won’t be bringing in a stream of customers. As you grow, however, the subject may need to be re-addressed.
Even a basic brand work up will cost $50,000 or so with a competent consultant. Invest in redefining your brand, as soon as you can afford to. A good consultant will encourage you to consider your product and the market holistically and to position yourself to maintain your growth as sales continue to rise.