September 27, 2022
If you’re on your way to developing your first mobile app, or you’re looking to grow your mobile app business, you might be considering improving your business plan. If you haven’t got one already, maybe you’re still in need of a little convincing, or the thought of doing it yourself is still overwhelming.
Fortunately, building a mobile app business plan isn’t all that hard, and with the right approach you’ll end up with a robust document that will inspire investors, woo bankers, or, at the very least, give you valuable insight into where you’re headed and how to get there.
In this article, we’ve got the whys and the hows of your mobile app startup business plan, as well as a handy template to follow. First, though, in case you’re in need of a little push, here’s a little motivation.
Do you Really Need a Mobile App Business Plan?
The short answer to this is: yes. The longer answer holds the caveat that it depends on how serious you are about succeeding financially with your venture.
When you’re starting out, you probably won’t know a huge amount about the market or how your product will fit into it. You might have an idea for an app and are willing to just build it and see what happens.
And this could be fine; if you’re not worried whether or not it’ll be successful, you don’t have a lot to lose, and spending time on a business plan for a hobby project might not be the right choice for you.
But if you want to compete and actually reach the most people, you do need a plan, and you do need a business-minded approach. You need a business plan. This is true, regardless of whether or not you’re ever going to show it to anybody.
A business plan can feel a bit like an overwhelming commitment to a certain direction, but in fact, it’s the very vehicle for defining and understanding that direction in the first place.
Further, your mobile app business plan will be a documentation of your investigation into the industry, and how you’ll be navigating your way through it with your app. This document puts your commitment into writing, and demonstrates to any outside stakeholders your business chops: essentially, how reliable you are as an entrepreneur.
The importance of a business plan, therefore, is two-fold: Firstly, you’ll be gathering significant information on your company and its position in the industry. This will lead you to accurate projections and enable to you take the right business risks to grow your company.
Secondly, you’ll be setting yourself up with a reputable document that you can show to investors or loan providers, should you be looking to fund the next growth phase of your business.
Funding Options for Your Mobile App Startup
When it comes to funding in business, there are three main sources. To find the first one, you need to look no further than the end of your nose. Bootstrapping a business, or self-funding it, has many advantages over the more involved options of taking out a huge loan or persuading another individual or company to invest in you. However, it also has its drawbacks. Let’s break down these three options, for clarity:
- Bootstrapping – There’s a good chance your overheads are going to be relatively low with a mobile app startup. If you’re a single person or a small team, you can work from home, and your initial costs could range anywhere from $50 to $500k, depending on whom you ask; the lower end of which is nothing to be sniffed at, but certainly more attainable from the proceeds of a side-gig or savings account.
However, if you’re a little farther ahead in your project, or it’s a bigger job, you might need a rapid injection of capital that your wallet can’t handle. In these cases, you could try one of the next two options.
- Loan – Loans for mobile apps aren’t hard to come by. Getting a good deal takes a little longer, but there are plenty of options from banks to crowdfunding that could provide you with a hefty chunk of capital for your mobile app project. Banks might be faster but more expensive, and crowdfunding might be cheaper but could take a while. Weighing up the pros and cons for the range of options, and consider that if your business fails, you’ll still probably have to pay that money back.
- Investment – For less financial risk, consider an investment. The added benefit of finding the right investor will come with their handy experience in the market, which you may or may not be allowed to make use of. This is one of the most time-consuming approaches to get right, and you’ll have to hand over a significant percentage of your company equity to get a good deal, but you won’t be held financially responsible if you don’t make it.
So, the benefits and drawbacks of each capital source are related to what you have and what you are willing to give away. Loans and bootstrapping allow you to maintain full equity share but are limited either by additional financial risk, or (typically) lower financial injection, respectively.
The investment brings with it the opportunity to learn from expert involvement but will take away some of your control in the project. So, this is a personal choice and will depend on your available options. However, there’s one thing that all funding options will require to make a return on your app business, and that’s a solid demonstration that you know your market.
If you’re looking to scale quickly, and you’re trying to get capital from external sources, you’ll need to be able to provide a good business plan. If you’re not getting anyone else involved just yet, you could still benefit from a business plan simply through the research you’ll need to embark on to build one. The first and most immediately useful data you’ll gather will be on the market.
Market Research for an App Startup Business Plan
Now we’re segueing into building a business plan, and we’ll have a template for the full mobile app business plan document for you in the next section, but if you’re still not entirely convinced you need one, consider one of the major components to a business plan: The market research.
Even if you’re paying your own way, and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, you’re going to want to have some good financial projections to know where you’ll be in five years. Working backward from this, you’ll need strong financial papers to project from, and to form those, from a very short or non-existent financial history, you’ll need to know your market very well, as well as how to find them.
So, market research is the early investigation to find the data you need to figure out your financial future and plot your path toward it. Market research will alert you to whether you’re launching your app at the right time, what your unique selling point is, and how you’re solving problems for your customers.
All of this will come in the form of good, hard data, from which you can extrapolate everything from your marketing media to your expected growth rate. We’ll go into a little more detail about how to begin your market research in the mobile app business plan template below.
In completing your market research, you’ll be completing a significant portion of your business plan, and you’ll have gathered plenty of data to compile much of the rest of it. So, by the time you’ve got this far, you’re already almost there. Take a look at how your business plan might look as a document once it’s laid out.
Your 7-Page Mobile App Business Plan Template
There are numerous layouts and sections you can add to a business plan, most of which follow a similar template to the one we’re about to go into. You can add sections where you need to if you need to, but the seven pages below make up the basis for a solid plan, and shouldn’t be left out. Let’s see how it breaks down:
Page 1 – The Executive Summary
This is the front page of your document, and it’ll summarize what’s to come. Therefore, it’ll usually be written last. It’s designed to catch the eye and lead the reader to the relevant section to their interests, but it can also be quite a handy reminder of all the work you’ve put in.
Of course, you haven’t put in that work yet, so keep reading, and compile the next six sections before you come to this.
Page 2 – The market Analysis
Here we get into the meat of the issue. All that market research should have given you a deep insight into what’s out there, who the competition is and what they’re providing to your future customers. What is the state of the industry? Who are the heavy hitters and what do they accomplish?
Identify all of these things in the context of your customer profile; who they are, what they like, and what problem they’ve got (that you’re going to solve for them). This page should include statistics, graphics, and a brief overview of the market as a summary.
Page 3 – The Company Description
Now it’s time to introduce yourself as a solution. Your introduction will cover the next two sections too, beginning with a description of how you plan to address all the issues mentioned in the above section. What is it that you’re providing that will keep you competitive?
List the attributes that give you an advantage, and point your focus on all the things that make you unique. Cover your history and your mission statement in the context of how you will use these to your advantage in the market.
Page 4 – Your Organization and Management
Next, break down the way the company is structured. If it’s all you, this shouldn’t take long. If you’ve got some key players, here’s where to show them off. You’ll also put in the legal structure of your company, or, if there isn’t one yet, what you want it to be.
Management will get a section each, and a link to their resume, with a short blurb on why they’re there and how they boost your standing in the industry. List their responsibilities here, and tie it all together.
Page 5 – Your products and Services
So, what are you actually selling? Talk about your app, which platforms it’s going to be available on, any copyrights you have, and any upcoming R&D info you’ve got in the pipeline. Follow up with how your product will address the specifics you mentioned in the market research and how it will help your ideal customer.
You might have two versions of this page, depending on whom you’re planning to show it to. For investors versed in tech, you can list features. For loans or marketers, you might want to focus more on the customer perspective. The things it does for the consumer, from that angle.
Page 6 – Your Sales and Marketing Strategies
Your revenue streams should have become evident to you during your market research; the strong, low-risk ones and the weaker or higher-risk avenues should be listed as such. You need to have a marketing strategy that reaches your people where they’re looking, and you need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of your sales funnel and where your touchpoints will be.
If you’ve got someone on your team dedicated to this, they should be able to fill it out for you. If not, do your research and find some marketing and sales templates for inspiration.
Don’t worry too much about this at the early stages – the important part is to have some idea of your first two or three strategies to focus on. Trial and error will help you complete this section later on.
Page 7 – Your Financial Planning
In business, this is what it’s all about. Your project will never scale without an ROI, and you need to know what that’s going to be, and how it’ll be affected by market trends, capital injections, and company growth. There are several important financial documents you’ll need to have completed for this, these are the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. Each will help you when it comes to projecting.
And project you must! We’re going to go into why that’s so important to get this right in the next section, but for now, consider that you’re going to need a projection with which you can manipulate inputs to see what the outcomes of different strategies will be. This is critical for knowing where and when to invest, cut spending, increase spending, and all other long-term financial decisions.
And there you have it. A pretty comprehensive mobile app business plan; the construction of which is almost as significant as its existence. And here's a free template just for mobile app business plans! Some of it will be tricky, and other parts will come a lot easier, but it’s important that the information you feed into this document is accurate – especially the financial docs!
More on the Significance of your Financial Documents
This is so important, it warrants its own section. Your financial papers are going to act as the calculator with which to determine how to run your finances. This means you’ll need to be able to enter your proposed investment, and immediately see how long it will take to make a return. Then, you’ll want to add in a pandemic or a tsunami or some other act of god and see if you’ll be able to recover from that.
You’ll need to know these things for your own benefit, but if you’re ever going to be taken seriously by a bank or investor, you’re going to need to prove to them you’re not dreaming. Projections that are too optimistic are going to be an immediate turn-off. Data that isn’t accurate show that you’re not a diligent business partner. Incomplete documents suggest that your organizational skills aren’t reliable, and investing in your project is taking a risk on an amateur.
For a professional mobile app financial projection template, check out ours here at ProjectionHub. This template has facilitated accurate projections for over three thousand mobile app businesses and it comes fully customizable with free support and review of your projections to make sure you’re on the right track.
Even if you’re not looking for funding, your mobile app business plan template is a valuable tool for entering the market and staying there. It doesn’t take a panel of experts to build a business plan either; you can do most, if not all of the work yourself.
Putting in the time to do the right research and gather accurate market data, compiling your financial documents, and designing realistic templates that depict your upcoming financial situation are the major keys to success when building a mobile app startup business plan.