Apps = Bad Business

I have a number of friends that are software developers and have worked on various big iPhone apps. They hear new app ideas from potential clients, friends, and family members all the time. Everyone thinks they have the next big iPhone app. But most people don’t know what actually goes into making an app and the difficulties of making money from one. Most nurses don’t have the skills and knowledge to build an app. So, they need to teach themselves how to program, find a cofounder with development experience, or hire someone to build it. All of these have major barriers to execution that prevent most people from actually starting. I am not saying that none of these app ideas will be successful, but they are always a gamble.

Let’s go over the different ways people can build an app:

1. Learn to program

Programming is an art form. There is good code and bad code. Bad code is hard to fix and will cause numerous issues down the road, even if your program initially works. Programming is also a collection of languages and, just like any other language, it’s fairly easy to become conversational, but takes many years to be fluent. What I’m saying is: learning to develop an app is an extremely lofty goal. I’ve met countless people with this exact goal and a background in tech. None of them have ever followed through. Even if you are a proficient programmer with a decade of experience, building an app is a lot of work for one person. So, for someone with no background in programming to build a highly profitable app would be amazing.

However, if you’re still dedicated to this idea, Google “Coding Bootcamp” to find a local 3-month class to learn the basics. (Full-stack developer academies are a decent place to start.)

2. Find a cofounder that can build the app

Here’s the question, and be honest with yourself: What value are you bringing to this partnership?

Even if you have a great idea, 99% of people with coding skills will not see any reason to have a cofounder with no technical or business skills. There’s nothing stopping your partner from stealing your idea and starting the company without you.

Things change if you have a lot of experience in marketing or if you were building an app specifically for nurses. You have to make sure that you’re bringing a great deal of value to the partnership since the programmer will be doing all of the work during the building process, which will feel unfair and potentially derail the project.

3. Hire someone to build your app

There are a lot of firms and developers that will build an app for you. I have a few friends that do this for a living. They charge $100-$350+ an hour. Yes, you read that correctly. Do you have half a million dollars to spend?

You can find cheaper developers overseas. There are many for hire in India and the eastern block of Europe. However, that will still end up costing you a lot of money and you risk having a poorly coded app. You’d also need someone to do maintenance and development for the app, which would be a continuous cost. And let me tell you, spending that much money on any app is a risky endeavor for the following reason:

It’s hard to monetize an app

So, your app is finished and ready for Apple’s App Store. Well, keep in mind that people don’t like to pay more than $0.99 for an app AND Apple will take 20-30% of your sales. Now you’re making roughly 70 cents per download. That means if you could get 1,000 downloads, you’d only make $700. And getting 1,000 is not an easy task. There are currently 2.2 million apps in Apple’s app store. Good luck standing out from the pack! Getting anyone to see your app is going to require even more money and some strong marketing skills.

Apps are a tough business for programmers. It’s even harder for nurses.


If you’re a nurse and want to start a business, check out my online entrepreneurship course at TheNurseStartup.com

If you signed-up for The Nurse Startup course with plans to build an app, e-mail me at: tacos@thenursestartup.com to get a refund.

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