App development these days is much like any business. Back in the early days app developers worked in something that sometimes felt like a wild-west free for all where you could turn out an app with no real goal in mind and still make a profit. Those days are sadly long gone; with there now being close to 3 million apps across the two major stores of iTunes and Google Play, and apps are now jostling for space in nearly every conceivable genre. The app developers job has changed. Its no longer just about building mobile apps with the mindset of “build it and they will come” the job is now much wider, covering not just the build but also helping with its ongoing success.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should be put off by app development as a business. No, the profit margins are still very high on a successful app, all it takes is a good amount of dedicated planning to make sure that your app leaves the block sprinting rather than coughing and wheezing itself into an early grave.
To do this, you need a business plan. But what if you’ve never made a business plan before? Well, that’s where we at Kumulos with our mobile backend as a service come in.
We’ve helped a number of app developers get their app off the ground and we know what questions every app developer needs to ask themselves to get that all important business plan sorted.
To get the full list you can contact us through the sign-up form, but we’ve narrowed down 5 of the parts we think are most important for app developers to know. And they essentially come under the following headings:
First things first, what are you developing? We, an app obviously, but what kind of app? A game? Information Provider? Educational? Problem solver? Life Streamliner?
Even if your idea is vague or just a thought, before you go any further, flesh it out and nail it down as much as you can. After that you can see where its value truly lies. Always remember, you’re going to be selling this to customers, and people don’t usually buy things that don’t have any inheirant value or use to them.
Your business plan needs to explain, as specifically as possible, how your app is going to fulfill a customer need. Even if it’s a game, you still need to know why that game has the potential to sell.
Also, you should outline, as clearly as possible again, how your app will set itself apart from the other apps in the same area. If you can specify what handsets your aiming your app at, even better.
Who is your app for?
No really, who is it for?
This is a major question, and again, the more specific you can get it the better. Customers come in all ages, sizes, genders, races, cultures, tastes and technological experience.
Your app is never going to appeal to all of them. It won’t, it’s impossible, so don’t bother trying. Making an app in an attempt to please everyone is more likely to end up being a mess of too many features all clawing over each other for the users attention.
Try to work out exactly who your ideal user is and why it is you want them as your target audience. It might be that you just think that user is part of the demographic who is most likely to buy it, but again, think about why they are the most likely demographic.
Are they proven to like the kind of thing you’re making? Are there numbers to back it up?
If you know why you want a demographic as your core audience, make sure to tailor your app towards them. For example, if your app is designed to help commuters by keeping them up-to-date in all the public transport times in their local area, make the app simple to use and snappy to respond and you won’t have a bunch of frustrated commuters giving your app negative feedback.
Specify in your plan how you’re going to go about attracting in your target demographics and why they are your targets in the first place.
Where is your money coming from?
Customers may seem like the obvious answer, but there’s more to it than that. There are multiple ways to monetise an app: Freemium, Premium, Free with adverts, Free with Microtransactions, Premium with bolt ons, Subscription (a more rare one, but still can be found sometimes).
Which one suits your app best and why?
Once you know, again, get it as specific as possible.
Explain clearly why you’re choosing the monetisation plan you are, how it works best with your app’s design and also how it ties into your chosen target demographic(s). All of these things are a major factor in how your money with come to you and any business partners you may go seeking, no matter what business they are in, will want to know how you are going to make money.
Why will people want to buy your app?
What makes it unique? What feature or features set it apart from the competition? Is it better designed? Better optimised? Simpler? More complex? More useful?
Consider all of these things, as these are key questions customers will ask themselves when evaluating whether they should buy your app.
This is also where you should consider marketing, as your marketing is likely to be the major turning point of whether your app goes for gold or stumbles flat onto its face.
Marketing tells people why they should buy your product over anyone else’s, and with a disturbing majority of app developers not bothering with, or investing next to no money into, marketing, it goes a long way to explain why only so many apps are successful.
Why will customers want your app?
This, again, should be something you outline very clearly in your business plan. It will give you a good idea of what to aim for during development and also will give any business partners a sign that you are thinking further ahead than just developing.
Finally, how are you going to make all of the above happen?
How are you going to fund the development, first and foremost?
What are the stages you are going to go through, from start to finish, when developing this app?
How will you market it?
How will you upkeep the app once it’s been released?
Each one of these questions will need an answer in your business plan. We know that it doesn’t exactly seem like the seat of your pants style development you were expecting, but really, by doing it this way you will save yourself just an amazing amount of time and stress later down the road.
So we’ve tried to keep this simple with 5 questions What, Who, Where, How, Why. But in actual fact you really need some depth in these 20 Questions if you are to really understand the app your are building and how to make it a success.