How to grow your business with mobile – in good times and in bad

How to grow your business with mobile – in good times and in bad

Mobile is crucial for business growth. App Annie in its 2020 State of Mobile Report found that companies with mobile as a core focus of their business had a 6.5x higher valuation than companies without that focus.

But in today's uncertain economic climate what can founders do now to make their app idea a reality?

Set out below are three pieces of advice I regularly provide to founders - in the good times. And with the Coronavirus outbreak and an economic downturn, these tips for making an app idea a reality have never been more pertinent.

1. Spend less on your app to get more

When it comes to your app’s features, keeping these (and your budget) constrained initially can be better in the long run. The more focussed the product the greater your chance of success.

This can be a hard message to get across to founders and businesses who want to create something that has the latest features and can potentially ease multiple pain points. In my experience, people believe they have one chance to get it right for their users, which I understand. But the fact is, successful products require many iterations.

Prioritising and limiting your features to only those that absolutely address the core problem has a number of benefits. First, it can challenge app developers to step back and think outside the square in their delivery. Second, a small feature set makes it much easier to test your assumptions about your app’s audience and how they will use the app. Not to mention, much less expensive if these assumptions need to be revised. Finally, focussing on a smaller feature set means you are more likely to design and deliver a really high quality product, rather than needing to cut corners or compromise to fit within budgets and timeframes.

A really focussed product, designed and developed really well will always be more successful than a larger product with more features and delivered poorly. And in this economic climate, this is good news.

2. You are not just building an app – you are building a digital business

When you have a great app idea, it is hard to think of anything else. While there are huge benefits in founders and businesses researching the problem, goals and users at the outset, there is an equally important aspect to consider alongside this step. And that is broadening your focus on creating a product, to creating a digital business.

This difference can be crucial to the success of the app. Thinking upfront as a business is very different from thinking about how you build an app. For example, it is rare that one person has the expertise to do everything. So for your digital business, consider what expertise you need to bring in from the start and what things you can do yourself.

Expertise that may be required includes legal, accounting, branding and marketing advice through to the actual design and app development. How to structure your business, price your product or service and intellectual property are all areas that should be considered upfront.

3. Raising money for your app idea? It can wait

A final point. A lot of startups in particular focus their attention on capital raising which, even in good times, can be hard to come by. But done too early, this process can take time away from what they should be doing – spending time in the market talking to potential users and customers for their product. There are also steps in developing an app that can be completed on a minimal budget that will help inform your capital raising. For example, scoping your requirements, designing your brand and core messaging, creating concepts for the app or an app animation or clickable prototype. These activities should be financially achievable for anyone looking to build an app.

My advice.

Keep things simple at the start. By spending more time in discovery and early design before embarking on a capital raising, you will better set yourself up for success. You may also uncover opportunities you might not have previously thought of, all of which will make for a more convincing pitch to investors when the economic climate is on the up.

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