This is part 2 of this week’s series, The Entrepreneur’s Guide: How To Build An App On A Budget. We’re digging deep into ways you can control your app building costs, save money where it makes sense, and develop a solid understanding of the financial constraints you’re going to be dealing with.

If you want to see the first 2 items on the list, hop on over to the first part above.

Let’s continue, shall we?

Here are some proven ways to keep your app project on budget, and tips to help you cut costs where it makes sense:

Be honest with yourself about your financial reality

Don’t dive into a major project with the anticipation that you’ll somehow be able to come up with money you need along the way. If you’re building an app on a budget, be honest about your financials and come up with a plan that works within your budgetary constraints.

Some developers will have pricing models that tailor to low-budget mobile app builds, so seek those out if that’s the position you’re in. The point here is to understand what you’re dealing with and plan accordingly.

Worst case scenario? You blow through your budget and your project is only 25% done. Don’t be that guy - plan and be honest with yourself about what you can (and can not) afford.

Understand what factors will influence the price of your app

If you want to maintain control of potentially soaring costs, it’s important to comprehend what specific features and choices can push you over the edge.

Typically, your app’s build cost will be primarily influenced by:

  • The platform you’re building on (mobile, wearable, web, etc.)
  • Product type (is this an MVP or finished product?)
  • Mobile platform types
  • Required technologies
  • Key product features
  • The developer or software team you partner with

Take stock of your different price-points for each option, to ensure you’re selecting what aligns with both your goals and budget.

Start with one platform only

This can be a difficult choice, but it’s one that can save you tons of money in your early stages. No one wants to alienate a group of users - that goes without saying. But, the reality is that the more platforms you build for, the more it’s going to cost.

If you’re trying to keep costs down, start with selecting the platform you believe the majority of your users are on. You’ll need to select either Android or iOs, and even take it a step further to decide which device ranges you’ll support. Do the research and price comparisons early, so you can approach this aspect with a solid plan in place.

Do not skip the MVP process

It can be enticing to jump right into creating your final product, but the saying “The cheap comes out expensive” really does apply in the app building world. Your app isn’t going to be built overnight, and you can’t build something based on old news and feedback. Consumer wants and demands will change often, not to mention that your competitors could easily be planning their next big move.

This is one of those areas where you do not want to try and save through skimping. It’s an error that can cost you big bucks in the long-run if you wind up creating a product that nobody wants. This can literally be the difference between success and failure.

The great part about this process is that even when you’re on an insanely tight budget, there is always a way to get creative and build out some version of MVP for your target customers to test.

Types of MVP’s include:

  • Product wireframe or mock-up
  • Interactive product prototype
  • Mobile or web version with 1-3 key features
  • Landing page with either mock-up or prototype that collects email addresses

If you really need to bootstrap your MVP, slap up a simple landing page that will validate your idea through collecting contact information and introducing your idea. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to happen. That's exactly what Dropbox did and just look at them now.

We’ll finish up this guide with one more post in a few days!