By 2017, The University of Alabama Collat School of Business estimates that total app downloads will reach 268 billion, generating $77 billion (£50 billion).*
Small wonder then, that this lucrative sector is so attractive to start-ups.
To give your venture the best possible start, here are five essential tips.
Do your research
What are people currently using? Is it meeting all their needs? Read user reviews to find out why the most downloaded apps are so popular and what improvements people want. Create the app that combines the best of all worlds – and adds a twist of its own. Decide if it should be free with ads or paid for. Should you offer a choice of the two?
Create a technical specification
Do you want your app to work on all operating systems? Consider all the technical criteria and user interface requirements and factor these into your technical specification. Pay close attention to costs – they’ll be critical to your profitability.
If you’re a non-techie going it alone, find and brief a good developer. Use your industry contacts and social networks to find a proven, reputable person whose fees you can afford. Check they have the experience to meet your technical requirements and the capacity to meet your deadlines.
Once you’ve tested your app thoroughly and listed it at the relevant app stores, it’s time to spread the word. Cost-effective ways to do this include pitching to journalists, entering awards, sending email shots, creating a microsite and blogging regularly. Use social media and any opportunities to optimise your app store listing. Always respond to user reviews and show a willingness to take criticism on board.
Structure your business
Make your app development business it as profitable and effective as possible by having the right structure in place.
Options include setting up a Limited Company, operating as a sole trader or forming a limited liability partnership (LLP).
A Limited Company protects you from personal liability from any losses or debts the business incurs – you only risk losing what you invest or offer as a personal guarantee. Although there are legal obligations, a Limited Company provides a solid foundation to build a business on.
As a sole trader, you’ll avoid the paperwork and legal obligations associated with a Limited Company – but you’ll be personally liable for any debts the business incurs. You could also end up paying more tax.
With an LLP, you’ll have the same limited liability that comes from being Ltd, but be self-employed for tax purposes. This means, instead of being able to take dividends, you’ll pay income tax on your full share of the business’s profits.