What Does It Take To Create the Next Big App?


I've had many individuals approach me with app ideas.  Their ideas are good, but I don't think they have the slightest clue what it would really take to bring their idea to life.  Someone approached me with their idea today and it prompted me to write this about ideas, app ideas in particular.

Ever since the app store was born the ideas for apps have grown.  We all have them.  "Wouldn't it be great if we could create an app that did [insert idea here]".

First off let me start off by saying that ideas are great.  In fact I think everyone should keep a small notebook and paper handy for whenever that light bulb goes off.  Some of us have more ideas than we know what to do with. Ideas sound really enticing given that we only hear about the big success stories.  For each success story there are literally hundreds if not thousands of unsuccessful stories.

As great as ideas are, it takes much more than an idea.  If you have a great "app" idea this what I think it takes to bring it to life.

Persistence

The kind of persistence that it takes is the kind that can take a thousand rejections and failures and you continue on. If one approach fails do you have the persistence to go back to the drawing board and create a new strategy? Do you have the persistence to do that over and over again?

Hardwork

To bring an idea to life you are going to work your butt off.  You are going to have to beat people over the head.  The greater the idea the greater you have to beat people over the head with it. You will have to strategize your plan. You will have to knock on on hundreds of doors. You will have to work extra hard to convince people that about your plans. You will have to work extra hard and extra hours to keep your idea alive.

You're idea is not going to put money in your wallet for a long time. That means that you will have to do it on your spare time.  This means any time you put in will already be overtime.  Do you have 10 extra hours a week? How about 20 or 30?

Discipline

Many ideas start off as that Jerry McGuire moment.  You are all pumped up and ready to change the world.  You have the motivation of a thousand Steve Jobs at the beginning.  Somewhere in the middle the work may become tedious or boring.  Do you have the discipline to work every day to bring your idea to life?

Focus

Other more interesting things will compete for your time. Perhaps even other more interesting ideas will pop off in your head.  Can you shut the door on that extra noise and focus on your original plan? If you don't your idea will suffer and die somewhere after the beginning stages.

Courage and Faith

Do you have to the courage to move forward even in the face of uncertainty.  Are you willing to risk all your finances into the idea.  Are you willing to put off having a newer car, gadget, phone, computer to put the money into your plan.  Are you willing to risk a lot in the face of uncertainty or are you going to rob your main plan by defusing a good portion of your resources on plan B.

Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen Van to get the necessary $1000 start up money.

Steve Wozniak left his job as an engineer at HP to start apple.  That was a big move considering that he always wanted to be an engineer.

Education

You will have to get educated not only about the concept that you are trying to bring to life but also on the market that you are trying to dive into.  You are going to have to learn about the technology.  If you don't know and can't become an expert overnight you will at least have  to find the people that you need to provide the missing skills and knowledge.

You will have to learn about business.  Sometimes people see apps such as Uber and they automatically thing that is just an app.  They couldn't be more wrong.  It is a business.  Somewhere there are actual people handling the back office work that the business requires.  The idea that it is just an app is an illusion.  You will have to deal with employees both administrative and technical. You will have to deal with Payroll, Tax Laws,  Accounting, Marketing. You may have an advantage if you are a developer  and cad do the development yourself but that will only translate to more hard work for you.

You will have to strategize a plan to determine how and what steps you will take to launch your product.

You will need an exit strategy.  At what point do you consider it a success and what point is it considered a failure?  Who gets what?  What do your investors get? What do your partners get in exchange for their sweat equity?

Capital

How much capital do you have?  Have you arranged for a way to plant a good seed towards your idea.  Patents cost money.  Engineers cost a lot of money.  Demos cost money.  Working prototypes cost money. So you need capital.  A solid business plan should determine how much capital you need to keep you alive.

Angel investors are usually looking for someone that has already started something before they invest their own money.  You can't approach an angel investor and say "I got this great idea but nothing else can you hand me a check please". You are going to need some sort of proof that what you got is worth investing in and that means working prototypes at the very minimum, in many cases it requires the working product which you want to scale.

When Mike Markkula invested his $250,000 into Apple Computer Inc, Jobs and Wozniak already had one working computer on the market under their belt.  They did that with their own money.

Endurance

Finally I think it takes endurance.  It's easy to think that all great ideas, Twitter, Facebook, Uber, evernote were overnight successes.  The truth is that you are running a marathon.  You are in for a longer run than you believe.  The odds are against you but if you do make it chances are that people will think you were an overnight success.

More Persistence

If you  did all these things chances are that you will still fail.  You must be willing to do it all over again. Why let all these hard lessons learned go to waste.  Do it over again and your chances of success will be much better. Sean Parker, founder of Napster, failed with Napster and later successfully ran Facebook alongside Mark Zuckerberg.

So I don't think that ideas are a dime a dozen but please consider these points before you tell someone "I have the next great app idea". But then again, what do I know I've yet to get one of my many ideas on the runway let alone off the ground.


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