updated 6/4/2014 5:15:32 PM ET 2014-06-04T21:15:32

Just because the barriers to entry into the entrepreneurial space have been lowered in the mobile-app ecosystem, doesn’t mean that everyone should jump into it.

It has become increasingly easier to build your app, but that much tougher to market it. Getting visibility and consistent downloads for your app is like an excruciating pain in the tooth!

I get this a lot these days: People approach me with an app idea to try their hand at making some money. Most often, these same people fail to get traction for their app, as I have seen over the years. It’s not just about traction, but about taking in feedback from your customers, evaluating their usage behavior with your app and then applying that insight back into pivoting or making changes in the app.

All of this is hard work -- extremely hard work. Most people lose interest along the way. Success in the app store is not by luck, but by design.

Related: The Shocking Truth: Customers Don't Want to Engage With Your Company

What these people do not realize is that the only difference between the ones who are successful and those who are not is building apps as a business or as a hobby.

Build a business, not an app. An app is just a means or a medium to provide a service to your customer. Before the mobile-app ecosystem came into the play, the largest or the most widely-used medium was websites.

Apps lend mobility to a user, which a website cannot. Apps also give a far better native user experience, which the web cannot offer. Therefore some products are better mobile first.

The fundamentals of building an app or a business are the same. In fact, an app is a business -- if you treat it like one, you will go far and wide and make money along the way. On the other hand, if you just treat it like a hobby, which in my estimates is about 90 percent of the apps out there, your app will be among one of those many that don’t make any money or any difference to your customers’ lives.

So here’s the mantra of building a successful app. Build your app like you’re starting a business. You’re the owner of a startup. What must you do to keep it afloat and going? The most basic thing is to build a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP) to validate your idea.

Once validated through initial customer traction, gain insights into how these users of your app are using the app through analytics and even talking to or meeting them.

Related: How to Get the Word Out About a Product Adored by Customers

At this stage, you will know whether customers like your app. Either way, you will have enough data or information to support it to make a meaningful course correction. This correction can be in the form of a pivot (Burbn to Instagram) or enhancements to make it more appealing by adding or editing features to suit the customer demand.

This is the evolution of any startup or a business.

If you build it, no one will come. The mistake that most aspiring entrepreneurs make is thinking that putting an app in the app store means the job is done. That if you build it, your customers will come. This isn’t Noah’s Ark.  

What are the chances that someone will discover your app among 1.2 million other apps on the iOS app store? You must assume that when you build your app, no one will download it. That’s the worse that can happen. And you build your business from there on.

This will help you plan strategies to reach out to your potential customers. Here are some resources that will help you with your marketing strategy: 25 creative ways to help you promote your app for free, building word of mouth and four gutsy trade secrets to increase app downloads.

Before you go any further, if you’re not ready to put in those extra hours and commit to making your app successful, it’s just not going to happen. Apps are successful by design. Apps are successful when the entrepreneurs behind them are determined to make them successful. Not by leaving it to chance or luck.

Related: How to Get Your App in Customers' Hands and Build Word of Mouth

Copyright © 2013, Inc.


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