Should You (and How to) Create a Mobile App for Your Business
Statistics don’t lie: everyone is spending more time than ever on mobile apps. According to App Annie, in 2020 (and partly due to the pandemic – but only partly) there were:
- 218 BILLION new app downloads
- $143 BILLION spent on app stores
- 4.2 hours on average spent on apps
These numbers aren’t just for Gen-Z, either. The numbers above include Millennials, Gen-X, and even Baby Boomers. Yep, even your grandparents are on apps all day.
Without a doubt, mobile apps are changing the face of business, from ride shares to errand-running to gaming to personal organizers. Is yours one of the businesses that might benefit from a dedicated app? Or would you be wasting your time and money on something that won’t help much?
Let’s break down the pros and cons of creating your own app. If you find the pros outweigh the cons, keep reading for a few ideas on how to create the app your business needs.
1. You have a specific problem in your business you need to solve, or a goal you need to achieve.
Maybe you’re marketing yourself to death yet receiving very little in return in terms of new customers. Perhaps you have a customer service problem and you’re leaking business by the day. For in-person stores and services, you may have special deals that translate better via mobile apps, such as QR codes for discounts.
In these cases, a mobile app may be something worth investing in. Apps can help spread news and updates quickly and don’t depend on your customers being home to see them.
2. Your customers are more likely to use apps.
Young entrepreneurs already know the language of apps. You’ve likely been using them for most of your life, start with the preschool games your parents downloaded for you. In fact, many of you may not conduct business via a laptop or PC at all. Why should you, when everything you need is on your phone? When you’re out and about, you don’t need to find an old-fashioned internet café to summon an Uber or Lyft. As we’ve said above, even the Boomers are increasingly using apps.
3. You want to impress your customers.
AKA the “WOW!” factor. You no doubt want investors to take you seriously. An app tells people you are quite serious about your business – so much so, your business depends on people being able to access you anytime, anywhere. Apps add a certain legitimacy to how people view you and your business. Apps also tell people that you know what you’re doing and didn’t simply dive into this endeavor overnight.
4. Keep up with the competition.
Having an app versus not having an app may be the deciding factor when clients choose between you and your competitor. If your competition has an app, you definitely need one. After all, you don’t want to be left behind, and you certainly don’t want to lose customers due to a lack of accessibility.
1. Apps require updates and maintenance.
Without the funding and ability to constantly monitor your app and provide your own tech support, your app is worthless. Depending on how you’ve created and launched your app (see below), updates may be expensive and time-consuming – time and money that can be better spent elsewhere in your business. Strongly consider whether or not you will have the wherewithal to keep up with your app once it’s launched.
2. Your shop is already part of an online platform that has an app.
Etsy and Amazon already have mobile apps, so if you are selling your product through them, an app is redundant. You would be reinventing the wheel, as well as confusing customers and forcing them to download an extra, unnecessary app.
3. Your online shop is already mobile-friendly.
Some web-building sites such as SquareSpace already optimize your online store to be mobile-friendly. This means your clients can already shop from your store via their devices without needing to download and sign up for a new app.
Similarly, if you aren’t running a shop or service that requires you to maintain constant contact with your clients then you may not need an app. Not all young entrepreneurs are selling widgets or mowing lawns. For businesses that focus more on personal networking and connections, an app may not be helpful.
HOW TO CREATE AN APP
You’ve read the pros and cons above, thought carefully about each one, and decided that you do, in fact, need an app.
1. Find a freelancer.
The nice thing about using a freelancer is that you can ask for exactly what you need and know that a pro will be taking care of you. Depending on your budget you may be able to hire that freelancer long-term for maintenance and updates.
The downside to freelancers is that you are trusting a virtual stranger to create your app. Before hiring a freelancer, make sure to check their references and portfolios. Don’t go cheap just to save a buck. The other downside is that good freelancers can be pricey, and you may not be able to afford to keep them on long-term.
2. Learn to code.
Easier said than done, right? Especially for an already-busy young entrepreneur like yourself, learning to code may be the last thing you need on your plate right now!
For those who wish to put in the work though, there are plenty of upsides to learning how to code your own app. You can make it exactly how you want. You can update and maintain it as you go. And the best part: it’s free!
There are free YouTube video tutorials on creating apps, as well as online classes such as Outschool, Udemy, and CodeAcademy that teach coding for app development.
3. App-building services.
Somewhere between hiring a freelancer and teaching yourself to code your own app, we have app-building services. There are tons of them out there, so make sure you check out their pricing packages and features before choosing one. With an app-building service, the monthly price usually includes regular maintenance and updates, so you’re basically outsourcing nearly 100% of the work. Monthly fees can range from $20/month to almost $200/month. App-building services are ideal for those of you who want to get your app up and running ASAP and have the resources to pay the monthly fee.
There’s a lot to consider, but we at the Kantner Foundation believe in the power of young entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into real-life success stories – maybe with a game-changing app!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!