A successful mobile app — like any — requires a good business plan. Starting without one is like building a house without a blueprint — you can do it, but you probably won't be pleased with the end result. If you find the prospect of writing a business plan daunting, try reframing the task. Instead of “writing a plan,” simply write the answers to the key questions posed below. Don’t scrimp on details. Scout out the information you need to make your answers more than mere guesses. Your answers should be based on fresh, solid, and relevant information that will win credibility from potential clients and investors.
What’s the Problem?
Your mobile app should be aimed at solving a problem or filling a need. What is it? Is your app the first to solve this problem, or is it designed to do a better job than existing solutions? Explain the need for your app, the new approach it takes to fill that need, or the gaps it fills in the market’s current solutions. Be as detailed as possible. Don’t just describe the need; also quantify it with as much concrete information as you can find. Augment that information with anecdotal information based on your own experience and research.
What’s Your Solution?
Once you have identified the problem, detail your solution. No, you don’t have to go into all of the technical details, but you do have to explain to your customers exactly how your app will solve the problem (or problems) that you have identified. Your answer should provide enough detail to make potential customers or investors believe that your solution is viable and desirable.
Who Is Your Customer?
Customers are the key ingredient for any successful startup. But you won’t be able to attract and engage potential customers if you can’t describe them. Defining your customers and your industry will help you focus on what’s most important in your product. Understanding what’s most important in your product will help you know how to talk about (i.e. market) your product and the marketing channels that will likely serve it best.
So, who is your customer? What do they want and need? What are their problems? Where can they be found in the marketplace and how do they generally behave? The more you know about your target customers, the more success you’ll have. Again, research your potential customers to assemble as much concrete, relevant information about them as you can. What you learn will be a baseline for the ongoing customer-satisfaction research that you will need to complete to keep your product relevant.
What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
This may be the toughest question to answer, because it depends on total honesty and objectivity. Why should someone buy your product? Essentially, your USP is a concise and persuasive description of your solution. Your USP is especially important when your product is directly competing with other products, because it will be used to convince someone that your product is superior in a singularly important way. If you aren’t a marketing or advertising whiz, then you will need to get one to help you with your USP. The marketplace is littered with the wreckage of technically superior products that could not articulate an effective USP.
How Will You Market Your Product?
Marketing is an integral part of all business strategies. You should know how products are currently being marketed in your industry, and what the short-, mid-, and long-term projections are. Knowing the effective places and channels for reaching your prospective customers, along with your USP, will enable you to create a killer marketing strategy for your mobile app without wasting money on ineffective marketing channels.
How Will Your Product Deliver Revenue?
The marketplace is more complex than ever, and the various ways that products are monetized can add to this complexity. Now is the time to sort out exactly how your product will earn its keep. Most startups endure tough revenue issues at the beginning. A sensible (and adjustable) monetization strategy can help you to overcome this problem. You should have a clear monetization strategy from first launch, and continually adjust it as your app matures.
How Will You Be Initially Funded?
You’re going to need money to keep the marketing and the lights on until your product achieves profitability. Before planning for the funding you’ll need, answer these key questions: How much money do you need and what exactly do you need it for? What percent of equity are you willing to give up? How many phases of capital funding do you anticipate? What goals or conditions will you set for each phase? How long will funding phases be before you need another one?
After having answered those questions, you’ll have the information you need to seek and engage appropriate funders.