Before hiring an app developer, your job is to validate and invalidate key hypotheses. Failing to … [+]
Building a startup doesn’t begin the day app developers start coding. In fact, with the right team, the easiest part of launching a startup can be building the product. The hardest part is identifying what should be built that your target buyers need and will pay for.
Before hiring an app developer, your job is to validate and invalidate hypotheses about user persona, customer expectations, features and pricing. The goal is to create a short-term roadmap that allows you to build a product on a strong business foundation.
Failing to invest time in this pre-development period can cost a fortune down the road. Here are 5 things every entrepreneur should do before hiring an app developer.
1. Talk To Future Buyers
I like to think of the future buyers of a product as college professors where the product is a graded assignment. Remember what you did to prepare for a semester’s final assignment project. Chances are you’ve asked your instructors many questions about their expectations, dos and don’ts, and their feedback throughout the semester to make sure you deliver a project they like.
Similarly, talking to customers is the best way to learn what will attract them to use and pay for your product. Most of the time, our initial idea changes based on customer interviews. Without those conversations, you’d probably be investing in a product you’ll eventually learn needs major adjustments. Therefore, before hiring a developer, make sure you maximize your understanding of customer needs and expectations by interacting with those you are building the product for.
2. Sketch The Idea
A potential customer can sound enthusiastic about an idea but only when they see and use it will you know if they’re truly interested in its benefits. Before building the app and in addition to customer interviews, there are many strategies that can reveal hidden key insights.
Sketching and presenting the idea to future buyers is a great strategy to refine your development plan by making cheap mistakes. Product designs and clickable prototypes are relatively inexpensive and easier to make and adjust.
Using those sketches for another round of customer interviews allows you to discuss something concrete that customers can see and comment on. Furthermore, app designs is the first step in development anyways so you might as well use them for customer development and roadmapping.
3. Connect With Developers
Thanks to today’s recruiting platforms, it is easier than ever to connect with talents all over the world. Despite all the benefits, it still takes time and research to find the right fit especially for entrepreneurs who are looking for team members who can work with them as partners in the venture.
The wrong team or person can make or break a startup especially one launched by a self-funded entrepreneur with a set budget. For this reason, post the jobs but take your time to connect with the shortlisted candidates. Pick the person you can connect with on a personal level and who is in it to build a startup not just an app.
4. Test Riskiest Assumptions
Am I addressing an urgent need and does my product satisfy this need? Before app launch, the only way to answer this question besides customer interviews is by seeking people’s commitment. The first group of people that you can pre-sell the product to is your interviewees from the previous stages.
Committed buyers will tell you what else they want to see in the product, rejections will answer why. Both cases will help you move forward on a stronger foundation whether it is starting app development or iterating to focus on a problem people care about.
5. Create Detailed Scope
Programmers hate to work in the dark no matter how entrepreneurial they are. Clarity is key to the success of a development project even if it’s a one-month MVP. Besides, unclear requirements significantly increase project cost and timeline.
Creating a functional specification document and user flow diagram align objectives and expectations. The pre-development stages discussed above are designed to help you create those assets while validating the idea so that by the time you reach the app development phase, the plan is ready for execution.