Launching an app is fraught with anxious questions. Is there enough market need for the app? Is my app going to address those needs? Do I have the expertise to get this done with smart hiring and partners? There are many valid questions that deserve answers before launching an app. However, once you see the market opportunity, it’s time to act. Here’s some tips for getting it done:
Build a Cushiony Budget
Before diving into the process of creating and launching an app, look closely at your budget. If you don’t have a formal budget, then create one immediately. The budget will feature many approximations, but it at least provides a roadmap to success. With a budget you can plan hiring and development costs against the likely time required to get to launch to see if your current plan will get you app completion and launch. Remember, some things will cost more than initially anticipated. Plan for a little cushion in the budget to help you get through any roadblocks.
Plan for a Long Tail
The last part of the development process is often protracted. It takes time to finish an app’s user experience and functions before you can do a public launch. The “long tail” of development will strike as you’re getting closer to a launch date. Give yourself and the team some extra time during this period to fix bugs and streamline the app processes. Pushing back a launch date is always a better option than going forward with a clunky application that won’t generate positive buzz and adoption. And in this context the “long tail” also means you should design an app with long-term usage in mind. Getting to launch is certainly important, but gaining users rapidly who have a positive first time experience and want to continue to use your product long term, are your main goals.
Contract out Some Tasks
As you budget for expenses, look at the tasks that can be contracted out versus those best completed by employees. There are many small businesses that can capably handle certain aspects of your business. Lean towards partners that can save you time and money, so you can focus on the development team or marketing efforts. Play towards your and your team’s strengths and outsource the rest if possible. When contracting, find partner companies that are large enough to have a track record and stability. But they are not yet filled with “middle men” who cut into your budget without offering a corresponding boost in performance. Consider for example going directly to the owner of a firm during the sales process instead of a commissioned salesperson. Find out exactly who is managing your projects and deal with them directly to get the most from every dollar.
Build a Strong Team
Time and money will dictate your need to outsource some parts of the app launch process, but for everything else you need a strong team. You of course require quality coders and developers. These are people that don’t just understand the tech but the overall goal of your app and are focused on the customer experience, not just the app functions. Hire a marketing firm if you need help with certain areas of the launch such as promotion and branding. Can this person also handle PR and get you into the industry-specific outlets that make the most sense for your app? This will also know how to talk to the tech team to pull out the key marketable features of the app.
Raise Capital with Realism
Pulling in capital for a new app/startup is tricky. You can’t and don’t want to give away too much too soon. Though you also need to be realistic about capital needed for growth and the risks an investor is taking based on what stage your business is at. Don’t expect someone to take on risk without a corresponding reward. You’ll need to manage a balancing act as you calculate the value of the new unproven app, which provides your base for the stake you can give to investors. Do this judiciously so you have enough left behind to incentivize future employees with potential ownership options, and so you also have more room to raise capital if needed for future app enhancements or expansions.
Launching a new app is a leap of faith that will require on-the-fly adjustments and a considerable amount of work. Moving forward from an idea to a functioning out-in-the-market app requires a well-crafted strategy combining the right people and careful planning.