Any entrepreneur with a good idea can build an app by contracting out work to developers and designers, but most attempts result in failure. Thomas Crotty, founder and CEO of JynxLinks, created an app in two-and-a-half months without any app development experience. How?
Crotty shares his five tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs and app developers.
- The app you build will not be as perfect as you initially envision. No matter how grand or far-reaching you intend your app to be, the product will always be a work in progress. “Most ideas are just seeds that will end up substantially different once completed,” says Crotty. Instead, set up your development process into individual phases where the app will undergo continuous improvement, testing, and changes.
- The concept of an effective development process is to create the best product possible, which involves strategic decisions of what really works, what features should or shouldn’t be included, and how it will ultimately provide the best user experience. Expect to make many decisions that will significantly change the product from the original vision.
- Prepare for countless revisions. Contracting out development work requires hours of revisions for design, UI/UX, strategy, and – most importantly – reality. Graphic design, for example, can become overwhelming for many entrepreneurs who have no experience working with designers. The best designers will create multiple ideations of the owner’s vision and plan for multiple revisions throughout the working relationship. It’s easy to bog down the design, UI/UX, or development phases, but the key is for owners to articulate a clear vision for how their product looks and feels to keep revisions to a minimum.
- In Crotty’s case, he believes more changes meant the better his product would ultimately be, but warns the process can become a pitfall hindering progress. “The key is to vet all potential developers and cover the revision process, scope creep, and how they plan to handle these.”
- Manage your own expectations. You will be your own harshest critic throughout the entire development phase, but focus your time and energy on the app’s weak areas to improve the product. Crotty recommends focusing on the reasons the app won’t succeed rather than why it will succeed. “This critical mindset will allow you to quickly assess whether or not the current market conditions are right for the app. If they’re not, table the launch, keep researching, take notes, and monitor market conditions for a future launch date.”
- Money should not be the measure of your app’s worth – at least at first. Romanticizing how much money your app will produce is a distraction from the development process. Crotty says, “Making money will become your most significant distraction, cheating you of your creative energy and tenacity. In my experience starting, growing and selling businesses, I realized if you do the right things, the money always follows.” Instead, focus on putting in the work to make something people will want to use.
- Build a trusted group of advisors. Outside of friends and family, you need a team of trusted and experienced professionals to bring the product to launch. Crotty says, “You’ll need a competent IP attorney, financial advisor, private equity of venture capital partner, and a reputable developer with a wide range of coding experience.” He recommends leveraging personal relationships to find the right fits, but if you don’t know them personally, he adds, “This is where an NDA is critical.”