How to (not) make money with an app idea

I know the thought very well. As soon as I have built my app, I’m rich. The shortcut to success. It was done before. The app simply has to exist. After that, users will come automatically. Because that’s how it works doesn’t it?

A single grain of sand at the beach

This may have worked back in 2008 when Apple’s App Store was a novelty, but in today’s age, we are experiencing an overload of sensory input and information. People are bombarded with funny tweets, pictures, and videos. We are in an era in which people and businesses compete for attention on a new and never-before-seen level. Attention became a valuable commodity.

I also compete in this environment that supposedly creates 70 Terabytes per second for attention time. And, I’m doing a bad job, to be honest. But, that’s OK for me because writing is a passion project and it doesn’t take much time away from my other responsibilities. I don’t expect to earn a single penny with it.

Undoubtedly, building an app (for any platform) takes way more time than writing an article. Especially, when an app becomes a hobby and most of the work is done on weekends over months. Seeing the app drowning in today’s ocean of content is surely something no creator ever hoped for.

The user – a mysterious person

Today’s huge amount of data is a problem but also an opportunity. Your app can be swallowed as a whole as if it never existed, or you can leverage technology to reach out to potential users before you even write a single line of code.

The harsh reality is that the users are the reason for the rise and fall of your app. A user turns to an app to solve a problem or to match a need. That app is expected to fulfill its job in an instant and as easily as possible. If the app does not what the user expects the app to do, the user will lose interest and select the next available contender from the myriad of solutions.

On the other hand, users are willing to pay for the right app that solves their current problem the best. Users not only pay for the right app, but they also can become fans and share their feelings about the app.

The role of the entrepreneur

There is a saying that an entrepreneur learns how to build a plane as it takes off. It is a nice saying that implies, how to handle problems, assumptions, and emergencies during the realization of app ideas.

I personally salute a lot of the entrepreneurs out there who are trying to realize their vision. It is a humongous task that seems small in the beginning but unfolds its true challenges the further it is followed.

A very nice example of a challenge is the interaction with potential users to create a product that fits their needs. Not only is it necessary to determine who potential users are, but the entrepreneur has to be charming enough to be able to engage with them to gather valuable information.

From software developer to entrepreneur

Building an app or realizing one’s vision is like growing up. There are beliefs and techniques we pick up unintentionally when we just started to become professionals. Some of them are true, and some of them are false.

After all, an entrepreneur is a person who is able to validate assumptions and discard assumptions that turned out to be false. A nice example of this is the assumption that I only have to build an app for my idea to become rich…