There’s an incredible number of people who’re jumping ship (meaning existing jobs) into unfamiliar waters (appreneurship) for various reasons, but realizing too soon that the pretty picture is only pretty from a distance.
When you’re up close and in the thick of things, appreneurship or entrepreneurship is far from pretty — it’s about the daily grind of the customer development process, customer service, managing finances and taxation, managing teams and expectations, etc.
But if the product idea brings you sleepless nights, by all means, take the plunge. But not before answering some of these pertinent questions that will only help you navigate the journey with more clarity.
1. Am I in this for the long haul?
Appreneurship, as in entrepreneurship, is a journey and not a destination. You’ve probably heard enough by now that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. So be honest about it to yourself whether you’re ready to invest the time, money and energy to develop your idea and if you’re going to be invested enough to see it through success.
Only if you’re in it for the long haul, should you jump ship.
2. Is there a market?
If you’re building an app where the market exists, meaning there is competition, you’ve got idea validation taken care of already. So it’s a good sign and not a bad one. You’ve then got to identify what would make your product stand out from the competition and why should people buy from you instead of the 2,523 other to-do list apps.
If you’re entering the wilderness — unchartered territory such as what Twitter did back in early 2000s, you’ll have a tough time validating the need for the product. It may take more time to validate some of the use cases and identify your buyer persona.
3. What is my buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a detailed analysis of the people who buy from you. This includes customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
If you don’t already know your buyer persona, then it’s worthwhile to invest some time in exploring it. The more information you have about your customers, the easier it is to identify their specific pain points and build a product that addresses those.
4. How will I monetize it?
Less than 1 percent of apps are profitable on the app store. Which means, 99 percent of apps are just not making enough money for their founders. Identify means to monetize your app and have a strong reason for why customers would pay for it. Even if you don’t launch your app with a monetization strategy, be clear as to how you’d make money over the long term if you’re successful in driving engagement in your app.
5. Do I have a launch plan?
It still beats me when I cross a large number of people who still believe building a product is job done. In fact, that’s not even half the battle won. Building a product is the easiest part of an appreneur’s journey.
Have you thought about how you’d get the first 100 customers for your product? If you’re planning to spend money through Facebook advertising, be sure to have your buyer persona ready.
If you’re looking at content marketing, SEO, social media, then you’re setting yourself up for results in the longer term. If you want immediate results, find out where your potential customers hangout within your city or area and prepare a creative plan to reach out to them.
6. Do I have the resources for marketing?
Marketing doesn’t necessarily have to cost top dollars, but it surely does need a whole lot of time experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. It’s a full-time job. Do you have the resources to hire an external agency to do it for you or do you have some time allocated towards marketing your app on a daily basis?
Apart from the time allocation, start with a plan. Identify on what platforms do your potential customers exist and how are you going to attract their attention towards your product. Approaching marketing without a plan is akin to consciously heading towards walking on thin ice.
7. Have I found the right development partner?
Lastly, but most importantly, if you’re a non-technical founder, it’s going to be a challenge to identify the right partner to build your product. Most non-technical founders make the mistake of spending too little on the product and setting aside a bigger amount for marketing.
What they don’t realize is that no amount of marketing is going to get a customer sticking through your product if it sucks. So invest that extra bit into creating a product that can delight your customers. A great product that solves the need of your customers will help reduce your marketing costs.
This post was originally published in Entrepreneur.