If you are of entrepreneurial mindset, the thought of starting an app-based business certainly has crossed your mind once or twice. Perhaps you have already tried to start your own app business. An app is a lucrative way to generate both active and passive revenue. Yet the development phase might become challenging considering you are simply starting.
Creating, publishing, and promoting apps are not, to be honest, easy processes. Reading various articles on starting an app business, you might have noticed the suggestion to learn programming. Learning how to code is certainly a key skill but not often a preferable path as it takes time and dedication. Besides, it might not be a cost-effective solution.
So we would like to share with you 5 ways we are confident that first-timer or beginner app entrepreneurs can use to get started with their app entrepreneurship journey.
- No and Low Code Solutions: Pros , Cons
- Acquiring or Buying App Ownership: Pros , Cons
- Freelance App Developers: Pros , Cons
- Buying App Source Codes: Pros , Cons
- Open Source App Templates: Pros , Cons
1. No and Low Code Solutions:
There are a number of competitors in this field including tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
The no-code and low code platforms are becoming extremely popular due to their easy-to-use interface, cost-effectiveness, and simplicity. There are a number of competitors in this field including tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. No and low code platforms require almost little to no prior knowledge to get started. They are pretty much the game-changer of the mobile app industry as they have solved so much complexity surrounding the app development process. You can use visual drag and drop features to build an app. Most of them are even cloud-based, so no issues even if you are using a low-end computing machine.
i. Cost of development:
Most no and low code SaaS services offer trial or basic features of the platform for free. Hence, for getting started, you might not even have to spend a penny.
In traditional app development, you need to set up multiple softwares, IDEs just to write ‘Hello World’. On the contrary no and low code platforms are cloud-based - saving your time from installing and configuring the development environment.
In modern software development, the integration of various platforms is significant. For example, if you are running a simple blog and ask your users to register through a long-form without any option for them to connect with services like Google/Facebook to authenticate, it might not be the best user experience. Low and no code platforms offer various integration features starting from simple to complex ones.
iv. Business Perspective:
Low and no code platforms can cut down your development time from months to weeks. That being said, you will have more time to think and make plans for your actual business.
i. UI and Template:
Low and no code platforms are not providing solutions tailored to your requirements. So you should not expect UI elements and often the template to stand out from the crowd.
ii. Code Modification:
So that one line of code modification can make your app perfect for the current release? Well, you might be stuck with no solution for doing so or may need to upgrade your plan to a costly one. Sometimes you will have to go through a small learning curve even to understand that.
iii. IP and Ownership:
Have you read the service agreement before developing your app on that amazing low or no code platform? While this is rare but then again there might be weird clauses stating you are not the full owner of your app and IP.
iv. Growing Big:
You have successfully bootstrapped your first app business, generating revenue and now there is that one feature that will really help the business to beat the competition. Low and no code platforms are always updating and adding new features for the users. Yet there might be technical and business limitations that may not let you integrate custom features into your app. In the worst-case scenario, you might need to re-develop the app from scratch, paying a developer and waiting months or weeks.
2. Acquiring or Buying App Ownership:
you can start a full-fledged app business by buying a new yet promising app, make it big, and sell for millions if not billions.
A subtle way of residual income can be acquiring or buying app ownership - for most cases doing close to nothing on the development part. We are not talking about the large-scale complex acquisitions, i.e. Facebook acquired WhatsApp. Although you can start a full-fledged app business by buying a new yet promising app, make it big, and sell for millions if not billions.
The concept of buying websites and domains is well known, but not apps. Especially starter or new apps. There used to be a time when an app developer could write an app as a side project, publish it to iOS App Store or Google Play Store and be able to make revenue without enough business skill. App stores used to promote the apps on their own. Unfortunately, that time is over. For a profitable app business, there needs to be a well-laid out business plan as well.
Historically entrepreneurs bought apps that generated some revenue. Apps were treated the same as websites. That landscape is changing. This might be appealing to buy an app that seems to be generating recurring revenue. But the smart move in our opinion would be considering buying apps that are well structured, bug-free, offers seamless user experience, promising, and might or might not have revenue.
i. Cutting Down Costs:
If you are living in a first-world country and looking forward to building your app, you might need to pay a minimum of US$3,000-US$5,000 to a developer as app development cost for the basic version of your app. Freelance app developers from developing countries can cut it down to US$1,500-US$2,000.
On the contrary, acquiring a new ready-made app will not cross US$500-US$1,000 - unless there are special aspects/features. Acquiring or buying apps will certainly reduce your development costs by more than 50%.
ii. The Time Travel:
Wondering why we are calling it time travel? According to invonto it takes 4-6 months to develop an app. From app auction marketplaces, you can buy an app in less than 5 minutes (Buy It Now or by negotiating with the seller). The seller might take a week or less to prepare the app for transferring into your account and you are ready to get started with your app business.
iii. What You See is What You Get:
From app auction marketplaces, you will be able to check the app as a user without even informing the seller. Which features are working, which are not, and which need fixes - you can pretty much make an educated decision. Most sellers are friendly and you can even ask for them to provide an admin demo (if there is) before you even place your bid or consider buying. So if you end up buying an app, you will be basically getting the app as it is.
iv. UI and Customizations:
While buying an app, it is safe to say that you are getting suitable UI components for that app. Most app sellers include the source code, making it easy to customize and extend the app further.
A good app will become popular among interested buyers. So you might face intense bidding competition. This scenario can be avoided by negotiating with the seller or using the buy it now option of the platform.
ii. Copycat apps:
Copycat or often reskin apps - they are both good and bad. Not all developers will be able to stay creative while developing an app. So they might copy other app features or some may just change a few elements of a previously developed app and publish it. Such apps can come in handy if they are published in the app stores for some time (aged apps) or already gained installs - you do not need to start your app business from the very beginning.
App stores often come up with demands of required changes like SDK updates, policy-related fixes etc. Usually at minimum app owners get 5-6 months’ time to get such updates done. Considering you don’t know anything about programming, acquired an app, and now need some maintenance of the app, if the previous owner/seller is not helpful enough you may need to pay a developer to get the fixes done.
If you have bought an app based on a previous revenue report, you might be waiting for a surprise. Apps work differently than websites. If the revenue model of the app was showing ads, on prior installs they will not show ads from your ad account(s) unless the users update their version of the app - which most users rarely do. Getting out of this trap is not complex but that requires you to continue ASO (App Store Optimization) and promotional activities of the app.
3. Freelance App Developers:
The local app development company that quoted you US$5,000 for the first version of your app, may have freelance programmers working for them who will get that app developed for US$1,000.
According to Wikipedia, there are 18 million freelancers working on Upwork. So certainly when thinking of starting an app business, freelance app developers will come into your mind first. In fact, working with freelance programmers has a ton of benefits. The local app development company that quoted you US$5,000 for the first version of your app, may have freelance programmers working for them who will get that app developed for US$1,000.
Hence if you know what you are doing, this might not be a bad idea to work with a freelance app developer or app developer company through freelancing platforms. Yet, you need to keep the fact in mind that not all of them are professional and what they will be delivering may not satisfy you.
Once a freelance app developer or app developer company places a bid on your job posting, you can see their public rating including previous work history. You will know with what type of expert you are dealing with and after an interview or two, you will have a basic understanding of whether the freelance developers are able to deliver what you are looking for.
ii. Cost Minimization:
As stated earlier, a freelance developer is more likely less costly than what you will be paying to traditional app development agencies. This is most often true for solo freelance developers.
iii. Additional Expertise:
Complex apps often require additional technologies to be included. An expert app developer is often aware of these facts and will take necessary decisions without you even notifying. Apart from that, they can sometimes help you with basic strategies to get started with the business; given that you established a friendly relation and the freelancer knows his/her field.
iv. Updates and Modifications:
Remember we discussed required app store updates? A freelance app developer, unless he/she retires and considering the job went well, will not hesitate to provide those updates for your app. In fact, professional freelance app developers keep themselves updated with the industry and try to keep a long-term relationship with their clients informing them about such small yet crucial changes. You can even get small modifications done from them paying a competitive fee as your app business grows.
Usually, top-quality freelance app developers stay busy with existing projects. In case you are new to this and just posted your first job posting, you will start getting bombarded with so many proposals and some will be even less than your budget. Finding the quality ones among them is a challenging task. In fact, there are con artists who will promise you everything and afterward deliver an unusable app.
ii. Language Barrier and Deadlines:
Most freelancers are at least proficient in reading and writing basic English. This is a different problem, more related to culture. In your culture, the sentence ‘I will complete it at 10 am tomorrow’ may mean you will get the task done by 9 am tomorrow and do additional reviews afterward. But for a freelance app developer from a different part of the world, 10 am may mean he/she will start the job at 9 am and let you know the associated issues in the next hour. Naturally, in such cases, your expected deadline will not be met. Often that induces mental stress that you should be aware of.
iii. M.I.A from Job:
Missing In Action, you need to understand working freelance is often related to personal freedom. Freelance marketplaces are always trying to motivate, often forcing freelancers to complete jobs they are working on. Still, they can always come up with stupid excuses not to do your project. Sometimes this is because they get busy with high-paying projects, sometimes they do not actually have the expertise and sometimes what they are saying is sadly true.
iv. Inefficient Code:
While you are working with a freelance app developer, their primary motivation is completing the milestone and getting paid. Most junior even mid-level freelance app developers will never consider the app performance. Big O Notation? They might have learned programming from a couple of beginner-friendly youtube videos or coding bootcamps, never thought or cared to learn about code architecture or efficiency. You may end up with a working yet an extremely slow app that your competitors will laugh over.
4. Buying App Source Codes:
you can leverage an app template that offers the features that you are looking for
Developing and releasing apps from existing source codes or app templates are a bit intermediate skill considering you don’t want to do any programming. Though if you can leverage an app template that offers the features that you are looking for and alongside using a freelance app developer to do changes for you, you can cut down both your cost and time.
i. Basic Features:
The basic features like authentication, CDN, social features, admin panel etc can come at a very low cost with an existing app template. Hence no hassle of getting those done from scratch or paying a fortune.
ii. Time and Money:
Even if you use a freelance app developer to customize your already bought app template, you will be paying only for the changes they will do for you. Often changes will be simple and budget-friendly.
iii. Fast MVP Deployment:
Good app templates will include a detailed guideline on how you can release the first version of your app on the app store. For the most part, it will be simple changes that you can do within a few hours. You will be amazed to see how fast you can get on the market compared to your competitors and offer a seamless solution to your users.
iv. Standard Code Structure:
There are a couple of app source code platforms that put emphasis on quality rather than quantity. App developers are required to come up with industry-standard coding practices. Such app templates are easy to maintain and understandable by other developers; lessening your worries about the maintenance part.
i. Confusing Instruction:
App developers releasing app templates often do not consider the user's perspective for their app templates. They end up writing instructions that are tough to follow, even for experienced app developers. Besides, you will not be able to publish the app without the help of an experienced person or some basic learning yourself.
ii. Obsolete Codebase:
You simply wanted to publish a ride-sharing app for your neighborhood, found a great app template, and bought that without enough checking. Afterward, you discovered the code is 5 years old that nobody updated and there are dependencies that are no longer available. We have noticed a number of users coming up with similar cases. Unfortunately not all source code platforms push their publishers to keep the source updated with the latest changes.
ii. Proprietary Solutions:
In case you are not expert enough to understand what is going underneath, issues like this may get unnoticed. App developers who wrote the source code might have used some paid or proprietary SDK-based solutions that were great initially. But as your app business grows, you might find that not usable anymore or asking too much to pay.
iv. Inflexibility in Customization:
Not everyone writes standard code - you need to accept the hard reality. Even though app template platforms review templates before publishing in their platform, they may not notice or choose to ignore bad codes. If you hire someone to do a couple of customization on your app template, they may end up reporting that a simple change that you thought would not take 5 minutes is not even possible to implement.
5. Open Source App Templates:
Relying on OSS for commercial app projects is not a bad idea but this is a bit of an advanced topic.
What you are trying to build, already got a similar open-source project. Why not use it instead of paying someone for building it from scratch? Relying on OSS for commercial app projects is not a bad idea but this is a bit of an advanced topic. You might need to spend some time learning the basic customization and uses, even if you take help from a freelance professional.
i. Free to Use:
Apart from paying for hosting or similar services, you will not be paying a penny for developing your open-source app. You or your developer will simply download and start using the code.
ii. Community Support:
The app source got a security vulnerability? Considering the community behind the project is active, you will notice how fast they fix that issue. Even you can push fixes or improvements if you are comfortable doing contribution.
Most open-source licenses will let you update the code as you see fit for your application. Unlike some weird app development agencies, who will not let you own the code that you paid for, with OSS you will have complete control over your app asset.
iv. The Ecosystem:
You will find a total ecosystem around popular open-source apps. Apart from the actual project, you will find so many add ons and plugins available to use for your product - saving hundreds of development hours.
Even though you will have complete control over your app asset, you should be totally aware of the licensee the original open-source project is using. Otherwise, at some point, you might receive a legal notice from the original authors or end up losing your ownership. So if you are thinking of something big and planning to use an opensource solution, consider discussing the licensing terms with your lawyer.
ii. User Friendliness:
Mobile apps are sometimes judged entirely based on interface, not how they work or what great features they have. OSS are not best known for user experience or GUI stuff. Your app entirely based on an opensource project may not be appealing as your competitor’s one unless you do some serious UI/UX changes.
iii. Lack of Support:
Active and popular open-source projects usually have a large community to support. But this support is not on a personal level. If you break a feature implementing a 3rd party library, know that you may not get any helpful advice from the community. In case the original authors lost interest and nobody keeps supporting the project, you might end up getting some unusable codes.
iv. Implementing Features:
Using OSS, this will become inevitable that you involve more developer(s) with your project or learn programming yourself. In case the open-source project gets discontinued, you will have a hard time implementing new features on your app or this might end up becoming more costly than previously explained ways.
Getting started with your app entrepreneurship journey is fortunately not a complex one. You have so many options to choose from, does not matter either you have a huge amount of cash to burn or starting from zero.
There will always be marketing gurus out there saying buying that paid guide for US$9.99 will bring exponential growth in your app business.
That being said, having an app business model is an absolute must. You can not expect revenue without doing promotion and marketing your app. There will always be marketing gurus out there saying buying that paid guide for US$9.99 will bring exponential growth in your app business. While what they will be offering may be true, know that you will be the one doing all the groundwork. So stop wasting months on development, get the first version of your app in the market as soon as possible, and start finding which marketing strategies work best for you.