“I have an app idea, but where do I start?”
Here’s a suggestion, start by learning what you’ll be getting into.
Many entrepreneurs with great ideas for mobile apps have no experience or expertise developing them. So, the first and foremost step can be your induction into the app world.
Think of it as going to college again, because you want to learn and specialize in a subject. So, why not?
If you are a non-technical founder, most people will suggest you start with a book (or an eBook), an online course, or a mentorship program.
Our suggestion would be – “you can do all that, but with a little caution.” Here are some tips on how to develop an app idea:
#1 Choose a resource wisely to take your app idea forward
Entrepreneur Vs App Entrepreneur or Appreneur
Entrepreneurship Vs Appreneurship
Is there a difference?
Yes, and this difference is called ‘mobile apps’.
There are resources for entrepreneurs and then there are resources for appreneurs (newly-coined term for entrepreneurs building apps).
Some of the broad resource categories for tech entrepreneurs are app development, learn to code, app marketing, starting your business, launching your tech product, etc.
These resources must be great but will they solve your purpose?
If you have an app idea and are a non-technical founder, you probably don’t want to learn to code. Learning directly to market your app will skip the steps of the development process, and ‘launching a business’ type of resources are way too broad if you’re specifically building a mobile app startup.
If you have a great idea for an app, look for resources which are very specific and actionable, which are meant for the training of an app entrepreneur, and which talk in the language of mobile apps.
Simply put, when you finish an online course or an eBook you should be a better appreneur. There are many courses that will take your app idea through to launch.
Here are a few tips for choosing the right resource:
- Check the specifications: Skip the courses which offer general entrepreneurial knowledge and motivational tips. When checking the content of the course or an eBook, look for specific app development and marketing knowledge for a non-technical founder.
- Use right keywords to find the right resource: Sometimes we get carried away by the most popular searches. Your keywords can be: appreneurship, app entrepreneurs, successful mobile apps, million-dollar mobile business, etc.
- Check testimonials and reviews: If I have an app idea and I tell you my product is great, that’s kind of obvious. But if 10 of my customers testify for my app idea and say that it is great, you buy it. Similarly, look for the reviews and testimonials attached with every resource.
- Check author credibility: Who is this person who created this resource? Check that person’s (or team’s) credibility. What is their expertise and authority on this subject. You can get some cues from their profile, social media followers and blog posts they have written.
#2 Network only at relevant startup events
There are tons of startup events and conferences going on. But not all the events are worth attending.
In your case, focus on events which will help you build an app.
Mark Suster, a prominent blogger in the startup venture capital world and mentor at Techstars, said in his popular blog, “It’s smart to selectively go to a few events here and there — particularly those that you’re likely to have the highest hit rates of connecting with people who can change your business.”
Here’s a solid tip from Neil Patel which will help you filter these events:
“Look at attendee lists before you register for conferences or networking events. Make sure there are either potential clients or people who are a lot smarter than you are at these events. If you are the one teaching the room on how to run a company, something is off. You can only learn if people who are smarter than you are at the event.”
Neil further adds, “If you want to attend good networking events, look for the ones that are intimate and invite only. It’s hard to get into those events, but when you do, it will be worth it. Those are the type of events that will allow you to create new friendships and business partnerships.”
#3 Connect with awesome mentors
No matter how much you study, read, or network with people there always be a moment of, “Why didn’t anyone warn me about this?”
Here’s when mentors come in picture, when you need someone to talk to about your problem. Mentors don’t tell you the rules, they help you tackle situations and disasters. They can be a huge part of your growth.
According to Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove, “Networking events prioritize quantity. But I’d rather spend an hour making a meaningful connection with one person over coffee than spending that hour shaking five hundred hands.”
Not everyone requires a mentor at an initial stage, but then, there are hiccups in every business. As an app entrepreneur you would need someone to turn around and help you.
Remember, relationships are your best investment. Invest time identifying some of the best experts in app industry, build a relationship with them by following them, subscribing to them, or even commenting on their content.
Here’s a great picture from Groove’s blog which summarizes the whole process for finding a right mentor:
Quick tip: Apart from social media, AMAs (Ask me anything sessions) are a great place to find experts. You can throw your valid questions and even find great names to follow. Just use the right keyword.
#4 Know when it’s time to call app experts
As an appreneur, you don’t have to understand how to code and create your mobile app from the ground up, even with app builders like Buildfire. App ideas, even great ones, can take some time to launch, and if you want to meet your deadlines or accelerate the process, it’s worthwhile to call in mobile app experts to get the job done. Instead of hiring a full in-house team, you can rely on the expertise of app development companies to keep expenses low.
They’ll have the years of experience and knowledge to help fine-tune any errors or issues you may have with your mobile app. For example, you can outsource your mobile app prototyping stage to a reliable mobile app team who can help you create and test your product.
This saves you time and money, especially if you lack the technical skills for creating the prototype to your app. Just consider beyond the cost of developers as low-cost mobile app development doesn’t typically mean high-quality results. Think about your needs and consider mobile app development teams that can deliver the expertise you need.
#5 Prototype your app
When you use mobile app prototyping, you can test your app idea out and help demonstrate how your app works to your target audience. The goal here is to map out your idea screen-by-screen using a wireframe or mockup to get an idea of how your app interacts and functions as users navigate to different features within the app.
A prototype helps bring your app to life with clickable content. Research from Marketing Sherpa and MECLABS Institute indicated that 13 percent of the 2,400 participants in its study deleted the mobile apps on their phones due to too many bugs and poor performance.
Prototypes also make it easier to determine if the customer is ready to buy your product. You don’t have to create every feature that will be available on the finished product. Just include the core features to test your product. Check out our guide to the best prototyping tools.
#6 Think about the app user
Your app idea has to keep your target audience in mind. So, when you’re designing your app, think about how your target audience will interact with it. Consider whether or not they will need additional assistance in using the app or if using the app will be “natural” for them.
For example, if you’re creating a health-based app enhanced with virtual reality (VR) features for a Baby Boomer or Post–War generational audience, they may require some level of training to use your VR-enhanced mobile app.
A 2018 JMIR Human Factors study found that smartphone training helped elderly participants between the ages of 65 and 85 get a three-day lead on understanding the smartphone app and enhancing their performance than participants who lacked the training.
Thus, it’s critical to think about the user interaction and experience that your mobile app will bring to your audience. Design your features based on their needs, such as large buttons for elderly users to click.
#7 Have a plan for marketing your app
“I have a great idea for an app, but no one is downloading it!” I hear that too often. Before your app is ready for use, you have to get the word out. It’s important to market your app before its launch, so people know where to get it and know when it’s available to download.
There are several ways you can do this, including via push notification and social media marketing and advertising. For example, you can run social media ads on Instagram, Facebook or whichever social media platform your target audience uses the most to drive awareness for your mobile app.
You can also use product marketing or social media to get the word out about your app and even raise funds. For instance, you can build a community of social media followers on YouTube or Facebook using the community tools within the platforms and direct users to donate to your Patreon account as a way to continue funding the project. Just identify the marketing channel that works best for you and your audience.
#8 Build an MVP
When you build a Minimum Viable Product or MVP, you help improve the success of your app idea. An MVP helps you test your app idea before you produce the full product. Your MVP should give users a taste of your concept just with the minimum features to deliver your product’s core values, and get your audience hooked.
So, it’s crucial to create an MVP that is quick to launch, simple to create and focuses on addressing at least one core issue for a specific audience. The user experience should also be designed well. Map out the user’s journey, and design features that your target audience will find most valuable, such as a task automation feature for a project management app.
#9 Improve on your app idea
If your app idea already exists, it’s time to do it better than the competition. Think about what makes your app stand out and unique from your competitor’s app, and consider any shortcomings your competitors may have.
Study these issues and take action to enhance your mobile app’s features so that you’re offering something better that your target audience values. For example, if your competitor’s fitness tracking app lacks a strong location-based tracking system, find the resources that can help you to deliver more accurate results.
Also, consider “disrupting” the market by offering a free app or feature within your app that your competitors typically charge.
For instance, if your competitor typically charges users for getting information on the nutrient details of a nutrition app, such as the user’s daily fiber intake or added sugar total intake, consider offering this information for free for a trial run.