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Creating an app for your business

‘There’s an app for that’ might be a commonly repeated phrase, but it’s also an incredibly true one. As of 2019, there were 2.46 million apps in the Google Play store and 1.96 million in Apple’s App Store. In almost every category you can think of, there’s an app to serve our exact needs.

While the market is undeniably saturated, there are still many opportunities for businesses to make their mark and release their own apps. Customers are always searching for the latest tech to fulfil their needs, and your idea could be the very thing they need.

There are many reasons someone might want to build an app. From increasing sales to improving contact with your customers, they can be incredibly efficient at delivering the key messages and functionalities of your business.

How to get started

First of all, establish exactly why you want an app, and the answer shouldn’t be ‘because everyone has one.’ Without a clear and simple vision, your app project can easily turn into a time and money-sucking vampire.

The best apps meet a clear need, especially if there’s a gap in the market. For example, I recently released an app for tradies and DIYers that accurately measures surfaces like walls, floors and ceilings, calculates supplies and draws up quotes all in the same place. I realised that no one else was filling that need, so I pushed forward with the idea.

In order to make sure your vision is clear enough, make sure you understand exactly what you want it to look like from the very beginning. Adding on a heap of extra functions for no good reason will only end badly.

Have a think about your ideal budget, then double or triple it. Development costs can get expensive, so make sure you have enough set aside to cover any unexpected costs. Ultimately, if your idea is solid, the positive return on investment should be enough to convince you to part with the cash. If you’re not convinced, you might want to reconsider creating your app in the first place.

Next, ask yourself: can your app actually be made? My app, for example, measures and quotes for building materials using augmented reality. Although it was a unique idea, much of the technology was already in place, so building the app was possible. If you’re unsure, book a chat with an app developer who will be able to give you a clearer idea of how difficult your idea is.

Making it a reality

When getting a team together, do research, research and more research. Make sure you’re certain they’re the right team to do the job, even if they come through a personal referral. I try to find people in charge of their own teams who don’t outsource everything, which helps improve communication and avoid any preventable mistakes.

Research apps with some of the characteristics you want and find out who made them. In the project I recently launched, I found the developer by researching the base technology I was after and interviewing a handful of developers who specialised in that. After several discussions, I eventually found one that clicked with me.

The difference between a good app and a great app comes down to one thing: user experience. UX is the key to success, so make sure at least one member of your team has a good understanding of app-side UX design.

Manage your expectations

Don’t expect 10,000 people to jump on your app on day one. Any new tech is a grind until you finally reach the tipping point, where early adopters snowball into mainstream adoption. Be sure you’re prepared for this. Some people aren’t in it for the long haul and end up dumping the project halfway, or discontinue the project when the first iteration doesn’t deliver what they expected.

As a very wise tech investor once told me, don’t expect the first version of your app to be perfect or have all the features that you imagine the app will end up offering, but get it out there anyway. If you don’t, you’ll end up endlessly playing with it, costing more money and not getting anywhere. In fact, it may never be 100% perfect, because there are always improvements to be made.

Ready to launch

Your launch will depend on what your app does and what budget you have allocated to it. With my business’ recent app launch, we decided to choose social media and public relations coupled with targeting our existing client base and contacts. This allowed us to get some live feedback from people we didn’t know, which was invaluable moving forward. Even if you’re just launching your app for your existing customer base, it’s still essential to get honest feedback from as many places as you can.

After launch, keep testing and keep asking. This is the beta test phase, which provides an invaluable opportunity to collect feedback from a wide range of people. Remember to look at the responses as a complete report, and don’t to get too bogged down in each individual response.

Creating an app is an exciting, draining, challenging and rewarding experience. With so many emotions and stress factors at play, it’s important to constantly remind yourself of why you’re creating it in the first place. Once that clear ‘why’ is in place, the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ should all fall into place. And if they don’t, I suggest going back to the drawing board.

About Michael Reid

Michael Reid has worked in the building industry for two-and-a-half decades, and has been at the helm of AILD buying group for the past ten years. Under his leadership, AILD has enjoyed tenfold growth as the group continues to improve ordering efficiencies between manufacturers and distributors. Michael is a thought leader, director and visionary entrepreneur. His latest innovation, Measure and Quote AR, is set to change the future of construction estimation.

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Michael Reid

Michael Reid

Michael Reid is the founder of SME Savings, a free group buying service exclusively for SMEs.

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