So, you don’t know much about Java or Swift. You don’t know an app’s “front end” from its “back end” — or from your back end, for that matter. So if you’ve been entertaining the possibility of building an app for your small business, now might be the time to hire a development team.
There’s plenty of revenue potential in the app world, and it can be a great way for some businesses to connect with their customers. But developing an app is a big investment; even an hour of the best app developer’s time can cost $250. So it’s important to make sure you’re hiring a competent team that is a good fit for your small business.
Hiring developers can be intimidating for nontechnical business owners. But remember, you don’t have to know what all the technical jargon means; you just have to find a team you feel comfortable with and that will explain anything you don’t understand.
To begin finding the perfect people to get your app off the ground, keep these tips in mind.
1. Know what you need. What are you trying to accomplish? If you want an e-commerce app, your requirements will be much different than if you just want an app that displays your business information and store locations. Do you want the app on Google Play, the App Store, or both? Some teams might be able to develop apps for both marketplaces, but that’s not always the case.
Also, do you need help acquiring users or do you just need someone to help you build the app? It’s important to understand what you need before you begin looking for the right team.
2. Check out past work. Just as you would ask a job candidate for a portfolio and references, you should talk to past customers about the company’s work or check it out yourself. If the company won’t introduce you to customers, browse its online portfolio and reach out on your own. Ask former customers if the developers met their expectations and if they would hire them again.
3. Seek social proof. Check out sites like GitHub and LinkedIn to see how a team stacks up in the development community. If the team’s developers are actively engaged on GitHub and have lots of endorsements on LinkedIn, that’s usually a good sign they know what they’re doing.
4. Look for red flags. Don’t fall for promises that seem too good to be true. If a team tells you that your app will top the App Store charts or attract a million users by a certain date, think twice. Also be wary of any company that asks for a lot of money upfront. Double-check references to ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
5. Talk to the team. Hiring a development team means these people become part of your team — at least temporarily. Speak to as many team members as possible to see if you like their attitudes and communication styles.
When you speak to the project manager, be sure to ask how your project is going to be structured. Will you get daily or weekly updates? How will the team communicate progress? Take extra care if the team is remote, as this will require significantly more organization.
Building an app is a serious investment, and the developers you work with are going to become short-term additions to your team. Vet them like you’d vet any potential employees by checking out past work and asking tons of questions. Don’t just sign on with a company because the developers sound smart. Instead, look for a team that has a good track record and works hard to make you feel comfortable.
Kuty Shalev is the Founder of Clevertech, a New York City-based firm that designs, develops and deploys strategic software for start-ups.