Five Year Mobile App Development Business Planning: Part II

The first part of this article covered most of the items that you will need to do to build a solid business in mobile app development. Its main intention is to demonstrate that most of what you do as an app developer does not generate revenue — unless you are being paid by someone else to do the development. The vast majority of your revenue inherently comes from marketing, sales and public relations efforts. The fundamental assertion is that if you stick to something for five years, engage to learn and apply to everything that goes into “that business” — it will be profitable. Well, almost.

Here are three more very important business components deserving of special emphasis.

Think outside of the box

It pays to be creative. Wantrepreneur, Reif Tauati’s post on Quora provides aspiring mobile app developers some hardcore examples of leveraging what he did have to accomplish many things he otherwise could not afford. Bootstrapping at its finest!

The basic point is “just because you do not have something does not mean you don’t have access to it.” Just because you don’t have money to pay a graphics designer for some cool art does not mean you can’t get cool art from graphics designers. You only need to show graphics designers that providing cool art to you has a reasonable potential of being profitable for them in the long-term.

In another direction, if you want to expand the number of devices your app will work on, but you can’t afford the devices, you can approach OEM’s, retailers, second hand shops, or even put up a local classified ad asking for the devices you are looking for and your reasons why. Why? Sometimes equipment is damaged, used as a display, needs to be taken off a shelf to make room for newer products. Many may so no, but sometimes people say yes – but you won’t get a “yes” unless you ask.

Advertise!

Start small and start early once you have an app available on an app store. You don’t need thousands of dollars to get a foot, or toe, in the mobile app advertising door. Many internet hosting providers offer $25, $50, even $100 coupons on Google or Yahoo advertising when you sign up for a basic web site account.

Advertising has the potential to be the single, #1, best investment opportunity for nearly any business. You can fit in multiple cycles per year and theoretically, there is no upper limit to your possible “return on investment”. This works ESPECIALLY well when you are not dependent upon physical production and logistical issues. Digital products make things much easier on you.

lawof72Let’s say you are starting out and only have $10 to invest in advertising today. It is possible that you could end up getting no downloads, no installs or registrations or anything else. But let’s say you managed to get a 9% return, so after your first month, you make your money back plus $ .90. If you were able to repeat this 9% return for 8 months, you’ll have nearly doubled your initial investment.

If you worked to improve your advertising effort, spending $1.00 and ultimately receiving $2.00 back is not out of the question. I don’t want to mislead anyone though, it takes some time and effort to refine your advertising to get good results and they will always fluctuate.

Nevertheless, a good portion of your advertising effort is under your control – how much you spend, where you spend, your ad appearance, who you are targeting, etc. Thus, it is entirely within your capabilities to improve the performance of your adspend.

Establishing and growing the advertising budget for your business has the potential to be the #1 influence on your total revenue. If you look at most successful start-ups that rapidly achieve multi-million status without external investment, it is owing to a successful advertising program.

Scaling to Growth (especially with employees)

Once you start making money, you need to be willing to spend it – by hiring more people to help you make more money.   Scaling to growth involves knowing where you are with your business relative to all of its areas of operation.   How many hours per month are spent on product development? Business operations and strategy? Marketing, sales, networking and public relations?

Growth also considers strategy. It could be that you have one very popular product that practically sells itself, advocating a choice between:

  • developing a second popular product, or
  • bringing on more sales/marketing people to increase your market reach, or
  • find an experienced business developer to get your apps placed on devices via OEM’s, develop strategic partnerships, or affiliates

There is no right choice as depending upon your product and strategy, each option could work well. Conversely, if you already have multiple products but a tight budget, then you likely need less tech and more marketing, or possibly another pair of hands working on business development.

The core factors involved with scaling to growth are having a reasonable expectation of future income and properly anticipating your need for more people. The first is a function of watching your financial balance sheet and sales statistics. The second means watching everyone’s overtime – and to some extent knowing seasonal fluctuations.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking qualified help is immediately available:

  • It takes time to find qualified programmers, marketers, etc. — placing ads, finding recruiters, etc.
  • There’s the hiring process –reviewing applications, interviews, checking references.
  • It is likely your new employee may need to give two weeks notice to their current employer before they can start with you.
  • On top of this, you can add between 1 week and up to 3 months before they fully come up to speed in your business.

Depending upon your human resources policies, and number of people you are hiring, you can expect some turnover, too. Some new hires may decide they don’t like their new job just as you may find some of them unqualified or not suitable for your company.

So, to find a happy medium – start LOOKING for help the first occasion you feel you are going to need it. Ultimately, you determine when you hire someone, so having a few candidates part way through the process can be useful. Be honest with them and let them know where they stand and where your company is at during any waiting period.

While you can also bring in temporary workers to fill immediate, basic needs, you might also aim to develop a “business reserve” — not unlike the “army reserve”. The Army Reserve works on the basis of someone coming in two days a month plus two weeks a year. The value to your business is that they are already familiar with most of the things involved in your business, know everyone in your business, and can quickly come up to speed on most projects fast.

Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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