How to start a mobile app business

How to build your mobile app business with the right app structure and equipment.

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The mobile app industry has boomed over recent years. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the market is saturated. Starting up in the smartphone app industry begins with identifying a gap in the industry. With this, you can earn a steady revenue from your app through different avenues.

Read on for your guide to starting your smartphone app business.

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What skills, knowledge or requirements do I need to start a mobile app business?

You can choose to create apps all by yourself or build a team of specialised developers to help with app creation. You will also need the skills to market, design and negotiate your app with endorsers.

  • Market research. Before building an app, you will need to research the current market. Analyse the existing apps available on the market to find a gap the app will fill.
  • Technical aptitude. To be able to navigate the design and build of an app, you will need to have a capacity for problem-solving and troubleshoots your app will encounter. Technical skills include computer programming, web development, security and tech support.
  • Business skills. Since you are introducing apps into a thriving industry, you will need to build awareness for the app's identity. Having the business skills to generate pre-launch buzz or get a third party endorsement contributes to the app's success.
  • Software development skills. Familiarise yourself with the different mobile platform Application Programming Interfaces (API) such as Apple iOS, Android and Windows Mobile to have a better understanding of the app's success.
  • Design skills. Defined brand identity will make the app memorable. A well-designed app should consider the user experience while the functionality of your app should be user-friendly, efficient and responsive.

What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?

smartphone app developers

There are several online courses, training and bootcamps available for those interested in becoming mobile app developers. In as little as eight to 12 weeks, these courses can help you develop the skills to understand the principles of secure, stable software design. You can apply for online software development courses at:

  • Coursera
  • TAFE courses
  • RMIT online

If your budget does not allow you to hire freelancers or outsource developers, learning to code in two or more programming languages can help you. It is a good idea to have an understanding of the basics. You can find online courses at:

  • Free Code Camp
  • edX
  • Codecademy
  • Web Fundamentals

Want to learn more?

Access thousands of courses from some of Australia's leading providers.

    What equipment and software do I need to start a smartphone app business?

    Unless you're setting up a physical office, as an app developer you will be investing in different softwares. The financial cost will be minimal if you are starting your business from home. The essential software you will need include:

    • App builders. If you don't have the skills for coding or software coding, you can try app builders such as GoodBarber, Appy Pie, GameSalad and App Institute.
    • Analytics. Using an analytics tool will help you understand how the app is performing. An analysis of your customers will also give you an in-depth knowledge of their behavioural data. You'll get a detailed overview of the return on your investment by checking the cost per install, cost per click, cost per acquisition and cost per thousand. Analytics also help you develop better marketing strategies. Some analytics platforms you can look at include Google Analytics, Localytics, and New Relic.
    • App prototyping software. Before sending your app out into the world, you will need to test its features and uses. Prototyping is essentially taking your app for a test drive. Prototyping on Paper, Figma, and InVisionApp are just some of the available platforms.
    • Advertising. Social media is a great place to start with advertising and there are online courses you can take. Reach out to influencers in your niche; generate reviews which will build your pre-launch buzz. You can create content like a promo video or by pitching to blogs.

    You can also read more on our guide to starting a small business from home.

    Compare personal loans to help kickstart your business

    Why compare personal loans? If you’re starting a business it can be hard getting approved for a business loan. Lenders usually look for a business that has been operating for at least a year and is making over $10,000 per month.

    While with personal loans lenders look at how likely you’ll be able to repay the loan based on things like your credit score, employment history and your existing debts. Before taking out a personal loan make sure you can afford to make the repayments plus any additional fees or charges.

    Data indicated here is updated regularly
    Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
    Symple Loans Personal Loan

    From 5.75% (variable)
    1 to 7 years
    from 0% to 5% of the loan amount
    You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
    Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
    Plenti Fixed Rate Personal Loan

    From 5.99% (fixed)
    3 to 5 years
    From $99 to $499
    You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 15.89% p.a. based on your risk profile
    A flexible loan with amounts from $2,001 and terms starting from 3 years. Interest and comparison rates calculated for a loan term of 5 years.
    Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan

    From 6.99% (fixed)
    3 to 5 years
    $575 ($275 for loans of below $5,000)
    You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
    Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 years terms.
    OurMoneyMarket Personal Loan

    From 6.75% (fixed)
    1 to 7 years
    1.5–6% of your total loan amount
    You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.75% p.a. to 20.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
    A personalised loan from $2,001 to $75,000 that varies based on your credit history and financial situation.
    Alex Personal Loan

    From 6.95% (fixed)
    6 months to 5 years
    $0 (waived $295)
    You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 6.95% p.a. to 19.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
    Borrow between $2,100 and $30,000 from 6 months to 5 years. Benefit from no ongoing fees. Note: Waived $295 establishment fee for all applications submitted before 15 February 2021.

    Compare up to 4 providers

      What app types will my smartphone app business use?

      Just like a business structure, you will need to consider the kind of app that you will create. Each structure comes with its own pros and cons.

      • Native apps. A native is developed for a specific platform, for example, an iOS phone or Android phone. iOS apps are built in Objective C or Swift, while Android apps are built in Java.
      • Web apps. A web app is accessed through a browser on your phone. You cannot download these apps from the app store. They seem similar to an app because of their interactivity and functionality. They require an internet connection to work.
      • Hybrid apps. Hybrid apps can be downloaded from an app store and are available on your home screen, but they rely on a browser to be accessed. They are developed using standard web technologies.

      To protect yourself and your business, the necessary legal documents you'll typically need include:

      • Terms and conditions. If you are selling goods or services online, then you'll need a set of terms and conditions. This document details a user's right to license and use the app as well as protecting intellectual property and limiting your liability.
      • App privacy policy. If your app requires users to create accounts, the Apple App Store and Google Play will need you to have a Privacy Policy. This informs users about how their information is collected and stored, third party access geo-location and the user's rights to opt-out.
      • Development agreement. This is an agreement between you and your collaborators stating the services during the app development process, the scope of the work and the expected delivery times of each phase.
      • End user license agreement. This agreement sets out the rights and limitations of the user using your software. The end user agreement states the prohibited uses of the app as well as the instances that will limit your liability.

      The legal documents you draft must be legally binding. They should protect your app according to your needs, especially if the app is collecting personal information and payment details. Access online legal services and templates from Sprintlaw, Lawpath, LawDepot, LegalVision and Wonder.Legal.

      Data indicated here is updated regularly
      Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Any free legal documents?
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
      $79 per month (billed monthly)
      Essentials: $288
      You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
      Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
      $7.99 per month (prepaid for one year)
      You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
      Get free legal documents in five to ten minutes.
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
      $699 (or choose a free template)
      Some documents are free to download. Get access to all documents with a membership.
      Pick between a fixed-fee package from $99 and a 12-month plan that unlocks a host of membership benefits for $699.
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
      Varies per template
      Get legal templates for any business type in Australia.
      Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
      $199 per month (bill monthly)
      Some documents are free to download. Get access to all documents with a membership.
      Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.

      Compare up to 4 providers

      How do I monetise my app?

      Getting revenue from your app is different from selling physical goods and services. People will want to try out the app or might even opt for a similar but free app. Some ways you can make an income from your app are through

      • Advertising. You can choose to have some in-ad apps which will vary by country and whether they are premium users.
      • Premium features. Offer your users the choice of paying for premium features. This allows users access to the basic features of your app and has the option to upgrade when they can.
      • Paid apps. These apps require a user to pay to download it from the app store.
      • In-app purchases. Another way to get revenue from your app is providing digital or physical products users can buy through the app.
      • Subscriptions. A subscription-based app offers a steady source of income. Users can access premium content and features through a monthly payment.
      • Sponsorships. Partner with well-known brands to generate user engagement from your following.
      Get your business moving with payment terminals, QR code ordering, invoices and more.

      How can I build up my customer base?

      You can build your customer through email newsletters, collaborations and online advertisements. Reach out to influencers who can test your app and recommend it through their platform. When it comes to a smartphone app, reviews on Google Play and the App Store influences people's decision to download. Make sure to respond to your customer service when they leave reviews and feedback. Take appropriate action as soon as possible.

      If you are looking to create a business that involves creating apps for others, online marketplaces offer a hassle-free way to source new jobs from clients. Some of the top platforms include:

      • hipages. Find customers in your local area who are looking for a specific trade.
      • Airtasker. Post your specialised skill for people to find.
      • Oneflare. Get matched with consumers in need of your expertise.

      Frequently asked questions

      Can I build an app if I don't know how to code?

      Yes. You don't need to have advanced coding skills to start a smartphone app business. Take advantage of app building platforms like GoodBarber, Appy Pie, GameSalad and App Institute.

      How can I protect my app idea?

      During the development phase of your app, have your collaborators sign a non-disclosure agreement before discussing your app with them.

      How long does it take to develop an app?

      The time taken to develop an app depends on the features, complexity, and the platforms your app will be on. Generally, it should take three months from app development to the app being on the market. You will need to consistently test your app, test it with users and encourage feedback.

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