Sometimes when considering whether an app idea is worth pursuing or not, it can be useful to consider both the best and worst-case scenarios to see if you really like your idea as much as you think you do, and to see just how serious you are about working on it and turning it into a real business.
Best Case: Great Traction, Quick User Adoption
Let’s assume for a moment that your app, upon launch, starts getting some real noticeable traction, and the majority of the user feedback is positive. Lots of new users are flocking to your app, and the feature requests and bug reports start pouring in.
Elaine wants integration with Dropbox so she can sync her files. Jimmy thinks the date selection process could be a lot smoother, and has some great suggestions for improvement. Jordan complains about your on-boarding process and wishes it was smoother, like your competitor’s app is.
Things are going really well for you, but your todo list quickly overflows. Do you have the time and the energy to sift through and reply to all the feedback? Do you have the money or the will to make the changes and improvements your users want?
Are you willing to commit the majority of your energy and focus to this app for at least the next 3-5 years (or more)? If you raise venture capital, the average exit time is 7 years. Do you really like the idea that much? Does serving your app’s customers and adding new features for them get you excited, or is it just the idea of being successful in general?
Remember: If successful, you are going to be known for this. To the majority of the general public, you will be the X App founder. You will be effectively married to your app, whether you want to be or not.
Are you in this for the long haul? Is this really a target market that you care about helping and want to be known in? Can you maintain your passion for this app idea for years to come? Do you have enough knowledge and experience in this market to keep going, even when it gets tough? Even if you lose your passion?
Worst Case: Slow (or no) Adoption
The best case scenario is the one most people think and dream of, but of course not the most likely. The most likely one is that you will build and launch your app to little or no initial traction.
Often, the difference between a successful launch with good initial traction and an unsuccessful one with no traction is marketing. Have people even heard of your app? If not, how are you going to get the word out? Hint: social media and “viral” marketing is not a marketing strategy.
The question is this: If you launch your app to crickets, are you still going to stick with it and keep pushing uphill, trying everything you can to gain traction, or are you going to give up and move on to something else? The question seems like a fair one, but it’s actually not, because it’s often not that simple. Worst case outcomes are always tricky, because it could actually mean a number of different things. The #1 reason is that founders simply fail to make something people want – an error in which there is little recourse except a major pivot or a complete re-thinking of the app and what problems it solves.
Let’s be optimistic here and assume that your app does solve a clear need, and has a good product/market fit, but no one knows about it – basically, you lack marketing. Do you have the money to launch a marketing campaign for your app? If not, do you have the time to learn how to do most of it yourself? Are you ready to reach out to countless bloggers, friends, and potential customers? Are you ready to spend a significant amount of time doing things that don’t scale to help get your app off the ground?
The Long Haul
Chances are it’s going to take a lot longer than you think to reach some level of success with your app idea. If you really think through your idea – both the good and bad possible scenarios – and you find that it sounds a lot more daunting than it does exciting, you may not be ready to move forward with your app idea. That’s OK. Not every app idea you have is one you’re going to care about deeply enough to dedicate years of your life and effort to. The point is that you should think it through before you start, and before it costs you years of your life on something you’re not going to be passionate enough to maintain as the years drag on.