We’ve all heard it. “90% of startups fail.” Whether that’s true or not, only Pinocchio knows.
But what I do know is that most of the apps entrepreneurs create don’t succeed.
The same way Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t succeed with the majority of his three point shots.
And it’s usually because entrepreneurs build apps that they can’t get people to use, let alone pay for.
The Problem With Your App Idea
“ We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want. ” – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
The problem with your app idea is that it’s your idea. It’s what you think others want.
But no one has truly proven that they want it. By proven, I mean giving you their time or money.
The same holds true even if someone explicitly tells you they want your app.
Saying or thinking you want something doesn’t mean you’ll actually use it once you have it.
And what you don’t want to do is find out no one wants your app hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars after the fact.
So how do you avoid getting there?
How to Deal With The Problem
The lean startup approach.
“It favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development.” – Steve Blank, Harvard Business Review
The approach was made popular by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup.
But in a nutshell, when you take the lean startup approach, you build incrementally and adapt as you get feedback from your users based on what they tell you they want instead of building what you assume they want.
Too many entrepreneurs spend years building their app ideas in a silo only to realize they can’t get users to try it.
So instead, we recommend you start with a low-cost proof of concept and confirm you’ve got something special before going all-in.
And at Chiedo Labs, we’ve been working on a process to help entrepreneurs build apps that users will want to use and want to pay for.
We want to help the entrepreneurs build ideas that have a real shot of succeeding.
Step 1: Know Your Target Market
Before anything. Before spending a dime, do the following:
- Define your target market (eg. tall males with red hair).
- Know how and where you can easily reach your target market (eg. facebook, networking, conferences).
- Know what problems the app would solve for your users.
- Know your competition.
- If you have competition, know what makes your app WAY better.
Step 2: Survey Your Audience
Ask people in your target market (not friends or family) what they think about your idea. Don’t worry about getting your idea stolen. It happens more in Hollywood than reality. Still worried? Read this (link coming soon). But back to the survey questions. Here are some examples.
- My app does XYZ, would you use it?
- What would be the most important feature?
- How much would you pay for an app like this?
- How likely would you be to use my app?
Step 3: Build a Waiting List
At this point, you know people think your idea is solid. But confirm what people say with their actions. Even if your app is awesome, if people won’t take the time to sign up, it’s pointless. Build a waiting list so you have people ready to use your app as soon as it’s ready.
- Create a “Join the Waiting List” page for your app with something like LaunchRock.
- Invite people to join your waiting list for a free “first-look” at your app.
- Get enough people on your waiting list to prove your idea has support.
Step 4: Build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
You’re ready to build your app, but don’t break the bank.
Identify the most important features you’d need to implement to get the people on your waiting list using your app.
Once you’ve identified those features, build your MVP and get your waiting list to try it.
Remember, this isn’t the final version of your app. You created this version so you can learn what your user’s really want.
Once you have people using the MVP version of your app, listen to their feedback and continue to incrementally improve your product.
Hiring a Team To Build Your App
Work with a local developer, technical co-founder, or a team like my company Chiedo Labs.
Just make sure that whoever you choose has read The Lean Startup. and is familiar with building minimum viable products.
You want an agency that is going to help you build features quickly, incrementally, and adjust to the feedback from your users. You want an agency to partner with you. Not an agency that that simply wants to build it over the course of X months for X dollars.
We love helping entrepreneurs build their app ideas. So if you’re interested in what a relationship would look like with my company, schedule a free phone call with Chiedo Labs.