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So you want to build an app?

So it’s finally time to build your first app. Whether the app is just a part of your business (like an easier way to access information) or if it is the core of your business (like instagram), before you discuss your idea with a developer or engineer, you should start with a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before you really discuss your app in detail – while most developers aren’t out to steal ideas, it can certainly help to avoid any misunderstandings. While several templates are available online, it may be best to consult with a legal professional – especially if your app idea is your business.

Next, think about how unique your idea is, and, does it need to be unique? If this app is a compliment to your business and meant to be used by those that are loyal to your brand (maybe someone who buys from you online), than it doesn’t really matter if their are dozens or even hundreds of similar apps. If the app is the business model, than it is definitely worth going through the Apple App Store and Google Play to see what else is out there. See what you like, dislike, and how you might be able to differentiate yourself. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to add your own special touch to it.

Making an App is a lot to explain, but I’d like to condense it into three main parts. Making an app from nothing into a usable product requires:

– Business Skills
– Technical Skills
– Marketing Skills

Business Skills: Having the right business model may not make you a millionaire, but it could mean that your app at least gets downloaded and used. In this step do a Break-Even Analysis on the idea; how many times does it need to be downloaded (and at what price), and if the numbers are unrealistic then don’t build the app. Also, if this is your first app, there is a very good chance you will run over time and budget. The reality is that you will run into unseen roadblocks, want features that you didn’t originally plan, and might have some trouble integrating an app into your existing infrastructure. Plan for delays and overcoming mini failures. Once you’ve got the business mindset down, then you are ready to move to the next step.

Technical Skills: This is where people like me come in. Unless if your business is technology, you really can’t expect to learn how to build your app and somehow still have enough time to run a business. Interview a few different professionals, get references, go with your gut. Find a developer who matches your style and personality, because for the next little while you are going to be spending some time together.

Marketing Skills: Marketing and promotion is an essential ingredient to building any app – after all, why spend the time and money to build something that no one is going to use? There are so many good apps on the store which fail to market themselves and end up failing because no one know about them. So assuming you got the first two requirements down, you need to figure out how to conquer this step before deciding to proceed. Questions you need to ask yourself are: how do I get my app into everyone’s hands? How do I get my customers to keep using my app? How do I get my customers to share with their friends about it?

There is certainly more than this to building a great app, but hopefully this tips will get you started.