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How to Start an App Business in (2024): Step-by-Step Guide

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Free Mobile App Business Plan Template

November 14, 2023

19 Min Read

how to start an app business
Table of Contents
Writing a business plan?

Are you a startup enthusiast with a brilliant business idea? Or do you want to expand your current business by getting digital?

Well, whatever your motivation is, developing an app is a promising way to translate your business idea into a successful business.

An average American adult spends nearly 88% of their total phone time on mobile apps. This leaves ample space for mobile app businesses to flourish, grow and develop.

Now, don’t let your lack of technical expertise stop you from starting an app. It is possible to not only start an app business but turn it successful if you follow the proper way.

If you are wondering how to start an app business, this blog is a perfect guide.

So without any further ado, let’s get started.

Quick fact sheet
Initial investment The startup costs vary between $30,000- $500,000 and more depending on the complexity of the app.
Location Remote mostly. However, co-working spaces and tech hubs can be good picks for physical setup.
Hours Hours vary depending on the needs for development, customer support, and app fixes.
Profit Margin Exceptionally great profit margins, varying between 20-65% and sometimes even 85%.
Skills required Programming languages, UX/UI design, market research, and marketing.
Demand Extremely high demand for finance, health, utility, and entertainment apps
Challenges Extremely competitive marketplace, difficulty acquiring customers, challenges with monetizing, etc.

How much money do you need to start a mobile app business?

The cost of starting a mobile app in the US varies between $38,725-$267,850 and more. However, the cost can extend up to $500,000 or more depending on the complexity and scope of your SaaS app.

These costs are highly influenced by factors such as development costs, the complexity of the app, location, and much more.

Pros and Cons of Starting a Mobile App Business

Starting an app business is indeed a rewarding venture. However, like every business, there are both pros and cons to starting a mobile app company.


  • Global reach: Easier to tap into the international market and capture a worldwide audience.
  • Scalability: Easy scalability to accommodate more features, users, and new trends.
  • Low overhead: Less operational and
    overhead expenses.


  • Competition: Intensely competitive marketplace with millions of existing apps.
  • Rapid technological changes: Demands constant updates to stay relevant.
  • Monetization challenges: The easy availability of free apps makes vcc3 monetization difficult.

A Complete Guide to Starting an App Business

Developing an app might be easier. However, starting a successful app business isn’t. Let’s uncover every detail that goes into starting an app business, right from idea validation to gathering user feedback to testing new ideas.

1. Research and validate your app idea

The first step in creating a sustainable cutting-edge application is to conduct a thorough market research. The quality research at this step will essentially lay the foundation for the success of your mobile application.

Ensure cover a detailed analysis of the following to create a fresh, innovative, and problem-solving solution for your audience:

  • Target audience: Identify your target users and analyze their pain points with current solutions. Assess the market size for your solution and determine your targeted available market (TAM).
  • Competitors: Identify your potential competitors and assess their standing in the market. Discover problems with their mobile apps and see if your solution fills the gap.
  • Failed application analysis: Don’t only choose a successful app for your analysis. Look after failed applications and see where and what they did wrong to avoid the same mistakes in your application.

At this step, simultaneously, you will also work on validating your mobile app idea. The idea behind this entire analysis is to ensure that you chase a problem that’s real and demands a solution.

Instead of jumping in with the first idea, it is better to ideate, analyze, and then finalize an app idea that is better than the rest. Remember to give every idea an equal chance before scraping it off entirely.

Find an appropriate product-market fit for the validated idea and rework the areas where there is a scope for improvement.

Now, with your validated idea move ahead and brainstorm a name for your mobile application.

2. Brainstorm a mobile app name

Before you move to complex parts and start development, finalize the name of your mobile application. However, finding the right name is a struggle in itself.

Now, if you are already operating as a successful business, launch your app with the same name. This will make it easier for your existing customers to find you.

However, if you are launching a new business, here are a few suggestions that can help you brainstorm the perfect name for your app development company:

  • Brainstorm the keywords that reflect your business offering. For instance, if you are launching an app in the health and fitness segment, include related keywords in your app name.
  • Choose a simple, easy-to-recall and easy-to-spell name.
  • Choose a short name. Different app stores have character limits. So better brainstorm the ideas within that range.
  • Don’t use heavy jargon or phrases in the name.
  • Use online name generators to find name ideas.
  • Ask for suggestions from creative people in your social circles to finalize a perfect name.

Overall, keep your brand values and its value proposition in mind and find a name that’s a reflection of those values.

Also, ensure that the name is unique and is available for registration. If you are planning to register the business with some other name, finalize that as well.

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3. Create an app business plan

From determining the business strategy to executing app development to financing to launching the application and marketing- a lot needs to be planned, executed, and monitored while starting your own app.

Creating a mobile app business plan ensures that you understand the market thoroughly and have every step figured out to withstand the changing tides of the mobile app industry.

Moreover, if you are planning to raise funds for your mobile application, having a well-crafted app plan will give you the edge over other app developers.

Wondering what goes into writing a comprehensive app plan? Here are the most crucial components your business plan must include:

  • Executive summary
  • Business Overview
  • Mobile app industry analysis
  • Mobile app services
  • Marketing and sales strategy
  • Operations plan
  • Key management team
  • Financial plan

Writing a cohesive actionable business plan is a taxing job. It requires in-depth detailing to present your business idea thoroughly.

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4. Secure seed funding for your app business (optional)

Now, you need money for app development and other activities to turn those ideas into a reality.

Assess your monetary position and check if you require additional funds to start with the mobile app development. If so, how much?

Seek out a small loan from family members and friends to avoid any burden of repayment and high-interest rates initially. However, if that’s not the choice, identify the available funding sources and determine the best options for your needs.

Here are a few options for you to consider:

  • Bank Loans
  • Crowdfunding
  • Angel Investors
  • Venture Capitalist firms
  • Credit card financing

If you are planning to seek funding from investors, you need to present a pitch of your business idea. For a certain stake in your business, they will provide you with equity.

However, you can always start small and seek funding from outside as you scale the app further.

5. Choosing a mobile app development platform

To begin the app development, first, finalize the ideal platform for your mobile app. All the mobile apps in the market have used one of these 3 app development processes to create apps:

Native apps

Native applications are developed to run on specific devices and operating systems. Such apps have access to the native device’s API, thereby, allowing you to build high-performance apps with a highly refined interface.

These apps are expensive to develop since you need different outputs for different operating systems. But they can be found easily by your target users for downloading. For reference, 80% of mobile traffic is generated through Native mobile apps.

Undertake the market research to gather an in-depth understanding of both the app stores- Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Assess the number of Android apps and iOS apps and the market share and revenue position of these platforms to make an informed choice.

For instance, as of 2023, there were more than 3.6 million Android apps and 1.8 million iOS apps on Play Store and Apple Store respectively.

Identify if your potential app users use Android or Apple devices and also consider the suitability of your native app with a respective operating system.

PWA (progressive web apps)

PWA is a hybrid of web pages and mobile applications. It is a web app that offers users a similar kind of experience to native apps.

These apps require no download and are indexed on search engines. They don’t require access to native device APIs to perform and are perfect for app businesses that require frequent updates.

It’s easier to target more customers with PWA than a native app and it is comparatively cheap to develop.

However, since the PWA’s don’t use native device’s API, it has a comparatively low performance in terms of features compared to native apps.

Lastly, there is an option of hybrid apps for you to consider. An app builder will help you build a cross-platform app for both platforms simultaneously using the same code.

Successful app business launches both Android app and ios app of their app to cater to a larger target audience.

Now allocate the resources depending on the app development method you choose.

6. Develop an app

Have you planned to develop a native app? If so, are you planning to develop an Android app, or iOS app, or both?

After choosing between native, PWA, and hybrid apps, it is now time to gather the resources and start working on the app development.

Here are 3 different methods to choose your development method:

Build your own app

This is perhaps the best method of cost-effective development, if you have proficiency in different programming languages, prior experience in building your own apps, and some time to invest.

Hire a freelancing app developer/ app development agency or an in-house team of app developers

If you are someone with no technical background, you need a bunch of people to undertake the development of your app ideas.

This method is costly. However, you can expect to have complete control over your product and its development.

Use an app builder

Similar to content management systems like WordPress, an app builder allows you to build a website without writing a single line of code. Watch how the user interface of your app turns out while the app builder builds it in real time.

As much as you focus on development, also draw your attention towards delivering a delightful user experience. Hire designers to help you attain a modern and intuitive user experience.

It takes anywhere between 6-10 months to turn your app ideas into a successful product. Follow this app development process to get a structurally correct product:

  • Develop a minimum viable product
  • Develop a wireframe
  • Choose your programming language
  • Start the coding
  • Work on app design
  • Test the app
  • Launch

Now, create a timeline for the launch and get the actual product ready.

7. Register your app business

Now, it’s time to give your mobile app business a legal identity. Register your business in these easy steps:

Select a business entity

A business entity is the legal structure of your business. The business structure you choose will determine the taxes, liabilities, and state regulations of your business.

Here are a few different entities you can choose for your mobile app business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • LLC (Limited Liability Company)
  • Partnership
  • Corporation

Now, each of these entities has its own benefits and cons. Identify the suitable entity structure for your mobile application after thorough consideration.

LLCs and Corporations are more suited for businesses in a way that separates you from your business and keeps your liabilities under control.

Also, consider what are the prevalent business structures if you want to acquire funding from investors.

Apply for tax registration & business EIN

Now, quickly proceed with tax registration and get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through an IRS portal.

The 9-digit EIN is like a social security number that allows you to open business bank accounts, apply for credit cards, fill the tax forms, and pay salaries.

Once the registration is complete, you go ahead and acquire the essential licenses and permits.

8. Apply for business licenses and permits

Business licenses and permits ensure that your mobile app business is legally compliant and sound. Depending on the nature of your app, its industry, functionality, and the area of operation; research and identify the essential licenses for your business.

Here are a few licenses and permits you must acquire for the mobile app business:

  • Industry-specific licenses: Depending on your industry, i.e. gambling, healthcare, beauty, fashion, etc. get the licenses required in that specific trade.
  • Zoning permits: If you are getting a commercial place for your app business, get essential building permits. Even if you are going to operate from home, check if your state requires zoning permits for home businesses.
  • Software development license: Depending on your state of operation, you may be required to get a software development license to commence development.
  • Sales tax permit: To sell physical and digital products, you may need a sales tax permit to accept and remit sales tax.
  • Data protection and privacy compliance: Since you will be collecting personal and sensitive information from the users, you will be required to follow data privacy compliances applicable to your business—for instance, CCPA, GDPR, etc.

Hire a professional to look after these matters. Non-compliance with any rule may lead to extremely high penalties and fines.

9. Get business insurance

Insurance is not essential for compliance. However, it will safeguard your business against potential casualties and risks involved in the business.

Here are a few insurance you must consider getting:

  • General liability insurance: If there is one insurance you must get, it is this. It offers protection against property damage, injuries, and a variety of business aspects that require coverage.
  • Professional liability insurance: If you are going to provide services with your app, get yourself this insurance. It will protect against claims of professional negligence.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: For an app development business that will hire employees on a salaried basis, this license is mandatory. It’s a coverage plan for your employees.
  • Cyber liability insurance: Since your business is going to operate in a digitized space, you need a license that protects your business in case of a security breach or leak of information.

Consider your requirements and acquire industry-specific insurance for your mobile app business.

10. Apply for a bank account & business credit cards

Set up a separate accounting system to keep your business and personal expenses separate. This will help you maintain your finances and will also ease the process of filing taxes.

Using that EIN number open a business bank account. Determine the best banking system that will work for your business. And also, apply for a business credit card.

Consistent credit card use will build your credit history and will help acquire loans in the future.

11. Pre-launch and mobile app marketing strategy

Making a perfect app is not enough. It needs to be marketed to the right audience through the right tactics to get traction and downloads.

Start working on your branding and marketing strategy before your app hits the app store. All the buzz and hype you create at this stage will help you when the app actually makes a launch.

Here are the marketing elements you should get in line with before launching your app on the app store:

  • Clearly define your branding elements. What kind of image would you like to create in the market? Develop the app’s logo, designs, colors, and overall user interface keeping the branding in mind. Also, ensure that you deliver a consistent brand image through all your marketing channels.
  • Identify where will you find your target audience. Will they be more responsive to social media or emails? Do they prefer written content or video content? Are they approachable through any offline channels?
  • Create a landing page to promote the app and its features. A well-built landing page with correct strategic placements can be an invaluable asset in getting the desired outreach.
  • Get in touch with influencers from your industry and collaborate with them to market your app.
  • Create a content bank of content that can be reused for multiple purposes.
  • Participate in industry-specific events and seminars to get in touch with your people.

Be generous with the marketing budget and put your app marketing plan into action.

Lastly, never put all your eggs in one basket. Try different marketing strategies and eliminate the non-useful ones as you monitor and analyze the results.

12. Develop a monetization plan

Are you planning to make money directly or through your app? If that’s the case, start thinking about a suitable app monetization model.

Here are a few methods popularly followed by other apps on iOS App Store and Play Store.

  • In-app purchases: In-app purchases are for businesses that aim to sell physical or digital products through apps. Consider them as e-commerce apps that facilitate sales for your products.
  • Freemium: These are downloadable free apps on the app store. However, only certain contents of these apps are free.  In this method, you earn when a user pays for paid content after using the free version.
  • Subscription: You generate weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual revenue by getting repeated subscriptions for your services.
  • Paid apps: These apps aren’t available for free download. The user pays a certain fee to download the app and access its content.
  • In-app ads: You can generate revenue by renting out advertising space on your app. However, ensure that you don’t sacrifice the user’s experience in this chase.

Each of these monetization models has its advantages and disadvantages. Identify the monetization methods used by your competitors or applications offering similar services. And plan your strategies accordingly.

13. Build a team as you grow

Don’t build a large team right from the beginning. Ideally, get the basic development of your app through freelancers or remote app developers.

Depending on whether you plan to launch an app on the Apple app store or Google Play Store, you will hire professional experts in respective programming languages.

Focus on a small but highly qualified team. Get the work like accounting, legalities, and marketing outsourced.

App development is a costly affair. You better plan the entire development process hourly to keep track of project completion.

14. Make your app available in app stores

You have come a long way. From undertaking market research for your app idea to preparing MVP and developing the app, you finally have your app ready to be launched.

Now you work on your app store optimization to make the app discoverable on app stores. The app market is intensely competitive. Whether you plan to launch an app on Apple’s app store or Google Play store, an optimized app stands a higher chance of being organically visible.

Here are a few things to consider while performing app store optimization:

  • App name: Optimize your unique app name within its character limit. The character limit for an iPhone app is 50 while that for an Android app is 30.
  • Keyword optimization: Add the relevant search terms of your app to make it easily discoverable.
  • App icon: Use a clear distinct icon to your app to create a recalling power.
  • Description: Add a captivating description of your app describing its features and benefits. Use bullet points, headers, and subheadings to keep the information easily scannable.
  • Screenshots: Add important screenshots from your app design to help users understand what they can expect.
  • Video: Add a video of your web app defining its clear purpose, message, and value proposition to connect with the users.

Manage your app store optimization by understanding the requirements of different platforms and making your apps available on app stores.

15. Release timely app updates

Launch the app as soon as your MVP is ready. Don’t wait for the development to end so that you have all the features ready. Focus on essential features and deliver them with your MVP.

Test the app on early adopters and gather the user data for performance on different mobile devices. It will provide invaluable user feedback from further development.

Launching the app is not the end of your app-building process. You need to regularly roll out updates, fix the bugs, and run beta testing of new features to stay ahead in the app market.

Ideally, an app development company should roll out new updates every 3 to 4 months.


Time to take the first step and validate your app idea. Already validated? Well, let’s build a solid foundation for your business idea by writing a stellar app business plan.

Writing a plan will ensure that there is no oversight in app planning and you get a clear direction to run your app business.

Upmetrics offers 400+ sample business plan examples for businesses from varying industries. These examples are perfect for writing a detailed and comprehensive business plan.

Now use our Upmetrics app business plan sample and get started.

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About the Author


Matthew Khalili

Matthew Khalili is an experienced business planning expert and the founder of The Plan Writers. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has helped numerous entrepreneurs in creating investor-ready pitch decks and business plans. Matt has enabled 5000+ startups to raise over $1 billion through his business plan, market research, and financial modeling services. Read more


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