So you have an idea for an App, huh? Well get in line – lots of people do.

And guess what? Even if it’s a horrible idea (as most are): you can still make money with it. Yes, really. It’s incredible how many people build useless software that adds no value, and yet: make tons of money!

We’re going to assume for the purposes of this Startup Blog Post that you know your stuff: you know what your users are thinking, what they want (hopefully because you actually asked them, not because you’re guessing…like 90% of entrepreneurs starting something new). And for the sake of argument, let’s assume what you think your App will do will actually add value in some way or another, and do so in a profitable manner.

But let’s say…you don’t know how to code. Computer programming is not in your wheelhouse. I mean sure – maybe you know a little HTML (if you don’t teach yourself some HTML tags – lots of good courses (Link to Courses List) online), but that’s about the extent of it, more or less. So you don’t really know if you need some kind of cross-platform framework to work online and on mobile devices and also tap into the native mobile hardware features (like GPS) your app needs, and then what kind of data base, and what language(s) it needs to be coded in…and ultimately: what you want it to look like! You’re in the Captain’s seat – it’s ALL UP TO YOU!

So maybe you take a class or read some books, and maybe you’re sharp enough to actually learn to code and you can slap together a basic prototype that…does something. If so: you’re probably ready to raise money (per the above assumptions). And after a few months of full-time study: You’re ready. And obviously: if you’re a professional programmer already: you have a leg up.

But what about the rest of us? What if you’ve never designed a piece of software that has various features and needs to be secure and blah blah blah and you don’t know what the best language is or the best platform and security & financial transactions online are foreign to you: you’ll need some help.

I’ve built houses and I’ve built software, and there are parallels.

If you’re building a house and don’t know much about planning, engineering, design, utility systems, permitting processes, excavation, concrete, framing, or other basic construction: you’re gonna have to pay someone who does. Much more than if you knew something about it. If you wanted to be your own General Contractor and manage each aspect yourself, and better yet: know exactly what you want with exact specifications for each supplier: you’re gonna be able to save a ton of money. And if you can wield a drill and run conduit/pipes, or strip wires, or swing a hammer/nailgun: you can save extraordinarily more and pocket the savings.

If you’re building a custom software application, the pros use a relatively common process that starts with “requirements gathering”, usually in a “requirements document”. This lays out what all you want this piece of software to do. In today’s day and age: look & feel & “usability” is important – I have a friend that is a “human factors engineer” and he studies how humans interact with…stuff (it’s a thing). And the beauty of that in the modern era is that if you can lay out how you want things to look (usually called “wire-framing” – where you lay out what is displayed where and what each button/feature does) – that’s a big part of it. But if you don’t know how to do all of this: you’re going to have to hire someone to do it – all before development begins. And just like building a house: if you have graphics skills, programming skills, design/layout/wireframing skills: you’re ahead of the game.

Imagine you asked a programmer to put up a Website that has a form on it to gather visitors contact info and to design a system to automatically contact them on a regular basis with various offers in order to maximize the revenue from your list. Probably thousands of dollars, right?

Imagine again asking that same programmer to add that same form on your WordPress Website (that you installed yourself – it’s free) & integrate it with your ConvertKit marketing automation system (that you pay $29/mo for) so all new signups go into your marketing funnel. Probably 5 minutes of work for someone who knows what’s up – probably could be done for free yourself, too – with just a little bit of Training.

Do you see the difference? It could be the difference between “almost free”, but for a few pieces of software (that make you look very good!), and EASILY paying $100,000 or much, much more for “professional” software.

Let me tell you a little bit about my background: I used to manage a business that sold “professional” software development services, largely to VC-funded dotcoms in Silicon Valley (and around the world), and also Fortune 50 clients (the “money is no object” BIG guys). We cost more than the best lawyers on an hourly basis. And guess what? Most of them just loved programming – I was the ONLY non-coder in the whole business, so I had a unique perspective. And when you can close a massive knowledge gap for businesses: idea to software product: it’s worth a lot to them. Sometimes many millions of dollars. So it’s a good business to be in if you know what you’re doing.

Things have changed though, and with the decentralization and Mobile device utilization being the trend worldwide: if you can reach people on their phones…you can reach all of them. Look at any number of super-successful businesses that are on most people’s phones.

And guess what? The software they are built on is pretty lightweight and more and more ubiquitous. You can learn to build that software, but if you don’t want to: more and more people know how to. Think of them like carpenters on your house. They can go crazy based on your budget, but what works best for all involved is if you can give them a list of exact specifications. Dimensions. Lengths, widths, heights. Specific materials, fasteners, accessories to use. Then: it’ll cost you FAR less, and you’ll also know if something is amiss. Keep your requirements tight.

And when you’re ready to get serious about spec-ing out your new App and you want some assistance that do it for a living: Schedule a Call & We’ll Chat.

Good luck on your your Startup Adventure!

Peter Johnson
Founder & CEO