Success comes to those that persevere. It also comes by design and doesn't happen by chance. Understanding this subtle, yet key difference can set the results of your efforts in the right direction.

When striving to build a mobile app into a sustainable business, it's not about a secret formula or 'growth hacking' that can set you up for success. As an entrepreneur, you need to have a grasp on and at the same time deliver a far better experience across every aspect of the building blocks of a successful mobile app.

These are the four components that constitute those building blocks. A focused strategy across these can make or break your mobile app startup.

Value

The foundation or the building blocks of a successful mobile app are laid down by identifying what value it brings to its customers. Every successful mobile app provides a solution to a problem that customers are willing to pay for. Some of the most successful businesses were built out of problems that the founders experienced and solved for themselves, and then went out and got product/market fit.

It's not just about solving a problem, though. It is about whether your customers would be willing to pay to use your solution or shift from their existing solutions because you solved an intrinsic problem that no other app could do until now.

Identify what is the core value your app intends to provide to its audience and validate whether there is a compelling need to use it a second, third and fourth time on a frequent basis.

Design

A key factor in the success of any app is that it is designed for a specific audience. The product design, look and feel and usability of the app should resonate with the particular customer segment it has been created for.

Steve Jobs once said, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

Design is really broken down into two key components where one leads the other. The first is the form and function of the app. Once you've decided on the first set of features you want to build into the app, it's imperative that you make it easy for the user to flow from one screen to another, or from one feature to another.

Your aim should be to reduce the learning curve for the users and make navigation more intuitive. This part of design is popularly known as the User Experience or UX.

The graphic design or User Interface Design (UI) follows with an understanding of who the customer is--factors such as gender, age, geographical location, etc play an important part in how the app will look.

Moreover, colors are scientifically proven to drive certain emotions in people and that is one of the reasons why you see specific colors in certain logos and product design.

When you have an insight into your customer segment, design with a look and feel that stimulates an emotion that you would like your customer to experience.

Reach

Distribution can literally make or break your mobile app. Getting your app out in the hands of your customers can potentially be the most challenging thing you can do as an entrepreneur.

There are multiple channels of marketing and the only way to begin, in my opinion, is to exploit every channel in the early stages of promoting your mobile app. This is the only way you'd learn which channels deliver the best results.

Lay out your marketing strategy in a document with a detailed week-wise execution plan across all channels. Study the result of your efforts across channels over a period of three to six months so that at the end of this period, you have an insight into the most effective channel that delivers the best conversions.

At the same time, work on crafting a compelling story about your app that can convey the value proposition in the simplest words to your user. Instagram's proposition is: "Capture and share the world's moments." It can't get simpler and more straightforward than that. It also emotionally connects with the user.

Scalability

Scalability really means how flexible and adaptive are you to your customers' feedback and how invested are you in the product to continue to iterate and build better features and an enhanced experience over a period of time.

A good way to approach this is to identify a narrow segment to begin with, possibly within your own circle of friends or extended network of people that are potential customers--randomly selecting users doesn't help. This could mean reaching out to customers just within your city--something like how Uber or Instacart started.

This helps you to understand the user behavior more closely and personally as well as make your mistakes quickly with a smaller group. The faster you learn from them, the easier it gets to deliver a better solution.

The moment you are able to delight this smaller segment of customers, all you have to do now is to scale your efforts to reach out to more similar users with the confidence that you have achieved product/market fit. And remember, a happy customer is worth a million!

Published on: Apr 24, 2015