There’s a lot that goes into running a successful app business, so it’s understandable to forget some things along the way. But in a business where every detail counts, sometimes it can really cost you. To save you from these pitfalls, we’ve listed the common mistakes we see every appreneur make that hurts their app business the most.
Update: It’s been over 7 months since this post was originally written and this information is still the most common mistakes I see appreneurs make. Check back in with this list every couple weeks to stay accountable!
1. Falling in Love With Your Idea
You should be passionate about what you do. Heck, that’s probably why you’re in the appreneurial game! But we see so many appreneurs get hell-bent on one “innovative” app idea that will make them millions. It can, and does, happen. However, you can’t develop with blinders on. How did you come up with this idea? Is there an appetite for it in the market, or is it something you and your buddies have always wanted to use? There’s a big difference. And BE HONEST with yourself. Before spending all your money on one app idea, make sure you’re researching the market (not just browsing) and seeing a direct need for this app.
As most of you know from App Empire, we explain the concept of emulation to choose hit app ideas. But many are still missing what this truly means. Emulation does not mean lack of innovation. Emulation does not mean copying another app. Emulation means taking a popular idea and adding value for the existing market. Look at some popular app concepts. What are they missing? What are reviewers asking for as new features? For example, look at successful apps that are supplements to larger apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (to name a few). Those appreneurs saw a need and a huge market that other developers were too intimidated to compete with. Now we’re not telling you to target all the biggest companies, but this is an example that, big or small, there will be popular apps with missing value so keep your eyes open. This crucial part of the app development process requires some creative thinking backed by solid research. Check out our 8-day App Business Plan for a step-by-step guide to develop your app.
2. Choosing Your Team…at Ludicrous Speed.
You have your business strategy lined up, your daily mantras buzzing in your head, and your mockups layed out – you are PUMPED. You hire a developer, and the next thing you know they’re asking for their half-way milestone paycheck, but you haven’t even seen a build yet. What?!
When that “new venture adrenaline” is running through you, it’s easy to get caught up without making sure your systems are in place. Did you hire too fast? Do you really trust your developer? Do you know what they’re delivering with each milestone? There is a lot to clarify before hiring a developer. This is THE most critical part of your success. We have many members tell us, “I had a bad feeling about this dev, but I just ignored it. I wish I had listened to my gut.” With so many developers overseas, you need to have systems in place prior to working together. Think of them as your TEAM. Mutual respect, daily or weekly communications, and a clear understanding and passion for the game plan. If this part takes you months, so be it. Moving forward with a developer you are not confident with rarely works out. But don’t beat yourself up if it happens. As one of our students said, “Dealing with a bad developer is like an appreneur right of passage.” It’s going to happen at some point along your journey, whether you’re seasoned or a newbie. Learn from it. Figure out where it went wrong, and move on.
3. Ugly App Marketing
If you’ve been watching the app world, you will have noticed one of the biggest changes in the App Store is the quality of design. Ugly icons and screenshots will no longer get you to the top (of course, there are exceptions as you’ll notice), but if you want to be successful, make your app marketing BEAUTIFUL. What does this mean?
Just take a look at the Top 100 apps. Colorful icons, eye-catching graphics, clear lines – the icon is your BIGGEST marketing tool, so do not go cheap on this.
While most appreneurs are starting to understand icons, many are failing at screenshots. Some of them are ugggg-ly. You need your screenshots to be enticing. This is what’s going to SELL your customer. Are my screenshots easy to understand? Do they explain awesome features that otherwise wouldn’t be noticed? Unless your app’s UI is extremely intuitive, don’t just take literal screenshots and throw those up. Often times customers won’t understand what’s going on or how this app will directly benefit them. If you’re not marketing to how your customer is thinking, then you’re not marketing.
4. Growing Your Network
People easily get caught up in the biz. They stay behind their computer screens with a stockpile of Cheetos and Big Gulps, plugging away on app features and upgrades and marketing and flow and analytics and…you get the idea. While your dedication is admirable, and at times necessary, it can also be hurting your app business. We say this a lot, but we’ll say it again until everyone is in one big Appreneur network of love – GROW YOUR NETWORK.
Go to conferences, meet developers, join forums, meet fellow appreneurs, attend meet-ups, keep in contact, become best friends – however you do it, just do it! Why? This opens doors to cross-promotion opportunities, potential partnerships, and a vast wealth of app business knowledge that you couldn’t acquire from internet research alone. Not to mention, it’s easy to be neck-deep in your business and not realize something, like your nag screen copy is boring, or your UI and screenshots look really plain. So bounce your projects off trusted contacts. How do you know if a contact is trusted? You’ve spent time and effort into developing a quality relationship. Remember, an app is much more than an idea so don’t be scared to share the basics. You never know what doors it will open.