When you’re starting a business, you may also consider creating an app. For a first-time business owner, the process of developing an app can be daunting. We interviewed professors and alumni from the Lassonde Entrepreneurial Institute and David Eccles School of Business to learn how to make that process more manageable. Here are 5 tips for how to successfully create your app:
Know your tech
Cord Bowen, a professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Eccles School and director of Doman Innovation Studio, expressed the importance of knowing the technology behind creating an app. “App creation requires designers, developers, and engineers,” he said. “Make sure one of those is you or someone on your team.”
Understand your customers
When starting a business, knowing your potential customers is one of the most important steps. Make sure to have a clear idea of who the potential users of your app are before you start building.
“People usually build apps that no one uses,” said Aaron Hsu, founder of Blerp. “I think a common reason is people try to push themselves into a market without understanding their customers.”
Learning about your customers can look like in-depth interviews, surveys, and sharing demos or prototypes.
“Take the time to talk to potential users,” said Colton Gardner, founder of Neighbor. “Talk to strangers, not family and friends. Get strong signals that you’ve solved their pain points before building anything. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your idea – be liberal with sharing to get more feedback.”
Know your competitors
You can’t create a successful app without knowing who you’re up against.
“I see people build apps without studying the history of what people have already tried,” Hsu said. “It’s easy to think you have validated a market because something doesn’t exist, but if you look deeper into the history, usually you will find examples and reasons why their strategy didn’t work.”
Knowing why competitors’ strategies didn’t work should be one of the first steps in your process. It will help you understand whether or not you can do it better and give you the opportunity to see if customers will use your solution.
Have a clear vision
Without a clear vision, any app you create will likely fail.
“Do your homework before you start and know the ‘why,’” said Bowen. “A successful app typically offers a clear purpose and value proposition, intuitive and user-friendly design, excellent performance, regular updates, strong marketing, positive user reviews, and a focus on user privacy and security.”
Gardner posed a series of questions to ask yourself before committing to your app idea.
“Are you building an app or a business?” he asked. “How are you going to realistically monetize it? Is it going to fund itself or are you going to have to raise money from investors? Are you building a business that investors are going to want to invest in because they can get a 10x return on their investment?”
Don’t be afraid to start building your app.
“Beginning is tough!” Bowen said. “Commit to your process and start trying. You’ll have to learn a lot but that’s normal. Try, succeed, fail, and do it over again.”
Hsu echoed Bowen’s sentiments.
“Go after it as soon as possible because there is no faster way to learn than just trying it,” Hsu said.