5 Questions You Should Ask Before Creating an App For Your Small Business

Here’s what you need to know before investing time and money

(Image: File)

There is a saying—“There’s an app for that”—that has become applicable to small businesses as more seek to create their own mobile apps. There are also do-it-yourself application makers, such as Appmakr and ShoutEm.

Appmakr is the largest do-it-yourself platform for creating native mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices, as well as HTML5 mobile websites (with no coding). Gaining in popularity, ShoutEm has monetization elements, such as their integration with Shopify and mobile advertising support.

[RELATED: 10 Critical Questions to Ask When Hiring a Mobile App Developer]

Then there are developers like Nuracode; one of the leading minority-owned tech companies in the nation. Based in the heart of Atlanta, Nuracode is a one-stop-shop for software and app development, digital marketing and strategy, analytics, and more. The firms have worked with a range of diverse companies; from large enterprises including Sprite, AARP, and DreamWorks, to smaller urban companies like Trap Flix.

“When launching a successful app, execution is everything. Before you delve into development, ask yourself whether you’re truly ready to guide developers as they bring your idea to life,” says Kuty Shalev, founder of Clevertech; a New York City-based firm that designs, develops, and deploys strategic software for startups. “It’s your vision and your business on the line. You have to know where you’re headed to keep your team from getting lost in the woods.”

Here Shalev shares five questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves before investing time and money in a mobile application.

  1. Do you have the funding? TechCrunch found that the average iOS app costs $6,453 to build, but more complex or noteworthy apps can cost thousands more. Make sure you have the necessary capital upfront. Your funding must match your ambition. If you’re targeting a significant market, you need significant funds. If you don’t have them, focus your ambition on something achievable.
  2. Who is your user base? Will they be interested? It’s critical to know everything about your target demographic before bringing in a development team. You need to understand the user’s journey and where and when he or she will engage with your app. Most of all, your app needs to enrich lives by solving a problem.
  3. What does the competition look like? Does your app fill a void or are you diving into a saturated market? Will you be competing with a host of mediocre apps, or dethroning a successful incumbent? Either way, you need to spend time with your competitors’ apps to determine how to differentiate your offering. The to-do list app, Clear, probably would have failed if it had taken the standard approach to design. But by building an innovative user interface, the $4.99 app has displaced the pre-loaded iPhone Reminders app for more than 2.5 million people.
  4. What makes your app unique? An estimated 80% to 90% of apps are used once and deleted. Unless your app is for customers to interface and activate for a one-time event, it needs to provide a compelling benefit that will make people return again and again. Take Evernote, for instance. People use the note-taking app as a repository for, well, everything. The more people use it, the more dependent they become on it. This makes the app essential to their lives, motivating them to return.
  5. Do you have the talent to see this project through to the end? If your staff members don’t have the skills needed to execute your vision, you’ll have to go to a development firm or rely on one of the simple do-it-yourself platforms. Hiring a developer can be especially stressful for a non-technical founder. You’ll need to conduct interviews and, once on-board, educate that developer about your company’s mission. In deciding to hire a developer or outsource the work, ask to contact former clients about the quality of their work, as well as their communication skills and ability to understand the business.

A version of this story appeared on the BusinessCollective, a free, virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, which was founded; in partnership with Citi, by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.