Apple announced that in 2013 the App Store did over $10 billion in turnover, with over $1 billion in December 2013 alone.

I’d wager that you wouldn’t mind a piece of that pie. And I’d also wager that you have an idea that could do it for you…

The idea

It’s happened! You’ve woken up one morning with “it”. The idea that will make it. You have an idea for an app. It has just come to you, and you know instinctively that it’s going to work.

This is going to be huge!

The problem

The only problem is that you have no idea how to build an app. You could learn how to progrma, or you could do what most (normal) people would do - you seek out an app developer. Preferably a freelance app developer.

The solution

You propose the concept to the developer and he/she says: “Yes, I can build that. It will cost you x.”

You tell your friends and family about this idea, scrape the cash together and pay the developer his fee and he builds your revolutionary app.

Your idea now exists!

The real problem

But now you hit the real problem. Your app isn’t selling itself.

You were sure that Apple would be gobsmacked by your idea and give you placement in the New and Noteworthy section on the front page of their store…but they’ve overlooked you.

And people aren’t finding your app and buying it.

The reality

This is where the reality of the situation hits home. The app isn’t selling itself and you have run out of cash. You have no way of telling people about your app.

The truth is that you cannot build an app and become rich. You have to build a business.

Now you may say, well what about Flappy Bird? Or Instagram? Or any other number of apps that have made it big?

Well, let me tell you a secret. Those were businesses, not apps. They had a defined plan on how to generate revenue, and, more importantly, attract users. They may or may not have written it out in the form of a business plan, but there was a plan.

But why?

There are over a million apps in the App Store. That means that people literally have a one-in-a-million chance of finding your app. And you can’t make money on those chances - you may as well play the lottery with the money you spent on the app. If you win, you win big…but you don’t have a great chance of winning - let’s be honest.

You need to have more than just an app sitting in the app store in order to makes money.

An analogy

Building an app is, essentially, building a product. So building an app without a business behind it is building a product without a business behind it.

Imagine you designed and built a mop. The best mop the world has every seen. It will clean anything from any surface. It is amazing!

So now you have the greatest mop in the world. You place it on your front porch with a sign that says:

"For Sale. Only x"

and sit there, waiting for someone to come in and buy it. How long do you think it will take for you to sell that mop? An hour? A day? A week? A month? Maybe - who knows. And that’s the problem.

You don’t know when you will sell one, and you don’t know if people will refer others to buy one.

However, if you take your mop door-to-door, you will most likely sell one by the end of the day. And you can then sell a second one on day two. By the end of the week you’ve sold 5 mops. That’s great! But the best part is that you have 5 chances for people to recommend your mop. After week 2, you have 10 chances. And so on.

If you placed an advert in a magazine, in the newspaper, on TV, on radio, on street poles or just about any other form of advertising, you’ve again increased your chance of a sale, and your chance of a referral.

If you take your mop to a large retailer and convince them to buy the rights to your mop, you will have an even better chance of selling mops!

But here is first prize: If you take your mop to a large cleaning company and can prove your mop to them, you will get an order for hundreds of mops. That’s hundreds of sales in a few minutes.

The point

The point is this: if you’re going to sell mops, you need to find a place to sell them, and a way to sell them. And it’s best to figure this out before you build your first mop.

Think about it like this - if you build a company, you sell a product. If you build a product, chances are you will sell nothing.

What am I trying to say?

What all this means is that you need to have a marketing strategy. And with a marketing strategy, you need to have a marketing budget. It’s going to cost time and money to get people using your app.

If you are going to be marketing your app yourself, there’s a fair chance that you won’t be able to do this while you hold down a full time job. You might be able to, but you might not. If you aren’t doing it yourself, you’ll have to pay someone. And either way, you’ll need more money.

And there are a number of other things that you will need to do to get your app off the ground.

The point that I’m trying to make is that you cannot build an app in isolation. If you want to build an app, build a company first. Let the app be a product of your company.

And if you feel that running an entire company isn’t for you, then perhaps you should smile at the thought of your app, and just let it slide.

So what do you do?

Ultimately you have 3 options. There are more, but these are the 3 most realistic ones:

  * **Build a business:** Start a company, build a business plan, and then produce an app as a product of your business. Work hard, day and night, to get people to buy your product.
  * **Let it slide:** Smile at the thought of your app, and be proud that you have come up with something great. Think about how awesome that could have been. And then let drop the idea and get down to doing what you really want to do.
  * **Make it a hobby:** Learn how to program Android/iOS apps and build the app yourself. Tell your friends about it and use it for fun. And take it day-by-day. Maybe it'll make it big, maybe you'll turn it into a business, or maybe it'll just fizzle out and you'll take up a new hobby.

If you’re interested in building a business, drop me a mail at: me [at] and let’s chat about it - I can give you business advice, where to find resources, and I can even build your app for you.

If you’re interested in learning programming as a hobby, I’d recommend Treehouse . They have world-class courses and a great community to get you on track. Check them out: Treehouse .

And whatever you choose to do: Good Luck!