If you own a small business, the question of building your own mobile app can be a tough one to answer. Yes, building an app isn’t just something leading app development companies are into; small businesses can benefit a ton from having an app of their own as well. However, small business app development is a huge commitment; and can be time and resource-intensive, while the ROI for such an initiative isn’t always evident.
So let’s take the time to break down the mobile app development process for small businesses and uncover everything you need to know about building an app for your small business.
What is Mobile App Development?
App development is the process of building applications (or software) for mobile devices that can take advantage of native functionalities and deliver a personalized experience. Apps have taken over our digital lives in recent years, and with millions of apps out there for every need of ours, the prospects of developing an app for your business are really bright.
Mobile app development for your business is a way of boosting your business’s performance using apps that help you achieve your business goals. Often with business-focused app development, the app itself isn’t the product but helps optimize and improve various aspects of your business. That said, let us discuss in further detail why mobile app development could be a game-changer for your small business, how to go about developing your application, and what it would cost.
Let’s Start With the Why?
App development can benefit businesses of all scales and sizes alike. In terms of small businesses specifically, launching a mobile app can be a great way of scaling up your business, developing customer relationships, providing better customer service support, gaining an edge over your existing competitors, etc.
Some major benefits of launching a mobile app include:
- Better marketing and promotion for your products.
- An app makes your business much more accessible.
- Improves brand image.
- Excellent feedback channel.
- Helps with customer acquisition and retention.
- Streamlines your sales funnel and helps scale up your business.
- Improved user engagement and data collection.
With so much going for them, mobile apps present themselves as a great investment opportunity for small businesses. However, it’s worth noting that building an app isn’t cheap or easy. We’ll break down the cost analysis for app development in another section below but first, let’s understand when should a small business opt for mobile app development and what they can expect in return for their investment.
When Should Small Businesses Opt for Mobile App Development?
Much like any other business venture, you’ll have to be smart and strategic with your app development efforts. The key is to identify your business goals and then plan your app’s development accordingly. Simply building and launching an app won’t cut it; if anything, it might make things worse for your business.
Therefore, it is critical to take the time to figure out what you want from your application. If you want to use it as an online storefront for instance, you’ll need to invest in features like product catalogs and payment plugins that can help you sell your products directly from your app. Such an app would also need to be marketed heavily to attract new and existing customers. You can even choose to run special in-app discounts for certain products in order to encourage shopping via your apps.
The point here is that your business goal will inform every aspect of your app development journey, from development to marketing and everything in between. So take the time to figure out what you need from your mobile app before investing in one.
But How Do You Even Develop a Mobile App?
Now that you know why you need a mobile app, it is time to figure out how you can get one.
Of course, as a small business, you won’t have a dedicated team of app developers as a part of your business, which means you’ll have to go out shopping for the right talent. Luckily, finding competent and reliable app developers online is not very difficult.
In the case of small businesses, outsourcing the development project is preferred over hiring a team of developers and project managers in order to save costs. Since your development needs are likely to be on the smaller side, especially when you are just starting out, it makes sense to invest in outsourcing, which can provide you access to some of the best app development companies globally at a fraction of the cost of having to build an in-house team.
Once your team is in place, it’s time to start building your app. This is when you’ll be building your apps’ basic functionalities and features. In many cases, launching an MVP is a great way of ‘testing the waters’ when it comes to mobile app development. See if that approach works for your app; if you go down the MVP route, ensure to consider the valuable feedback that comes after launching an MVP. From this point on, you can continue to improve on your app as you go iteratively. The average time needed to build a simple, low-complexity app is around 2-4 months, so schedule your project timeline accordingly.
How much would it cost?
Perhaps the most important question for a small business building an app would be: How much would it cost?
A typically fully fleshed-out app would require some basic and popular consumer features like profile building, data collection, multiple screens, feedback channels, etc. Such an app isn’t an MVP; we are talking about a fully finished product that can take anywhere between 3-9 months to create.
According to Goodfirm’s Survey, the cost of building such a medium complexity app with popular consumer features comes down to around $34,560 to $60,48. As a small business, you don’t want to be launching an unfinished or unpolished product since you want to be able to compete with the bigger players in the game. But at the same time, it is important to remain mindful of the features and capabilities we add to our apps since they can drive the development cost too high too quickly.
Ultimately a small business needs to develop an app on a budget, which is only possible through financial planning, in-depth cost-to-benefit analysis, and a strategic feature selection.
Conclusion: Is app development right for you?
Small businesses can draw in some big benefits by investing in mobile app development. However, for your investment to be worth the time, risk, and resources, you’ll need to plan your app development project cautiously.
Start with identifying your business goals when it comes to app development. Next, find a development team; as a small business outsourcing your development project can save you a ton of time and money. Once you have a team of developers, finalize the basic feature and design philosophy for your app. Consider starting with an MVP and developing the app iteratively based on the feedback it generates.
With the right strategy and a great development team, building an app can certainly be the move that propels your small business to the next level.