3 ways to jump-start your app idea on a shoestring budget

At MotionMobs, we consult with a lot of start-ups. We help early stage tech companies and individuals with app ideas, some who have already secured investments and others whom are still looking for their angel. We also help large, established companies create new products that build additional revenue channels.

We understand trying to get the most out of your “shoestring budget.” We’re personally familiar with that struggle. It is challenging, but it can also help you stay focused on what is most important– building a solid plan and gaining traction quickly. 

As attractive as TV shows like Shark Tank and Silicon Valley can make tech start-ups look, don’t be confused. It is a lot of hard work, and the decisions you make at the earliest stage affect the next couple hundred decisions.

If you have a shoestring budget, here are 3 things you should never do:

  1. Don’t insult anyone. When you have a shoestring budget and you’re trying to stretch it as far as you can, it’s easy to focus only on money. It makes sense. I get it. You’re worried about money. You don’t have much of it. You’re trying to start something as fast as you can, and take it as far as it will go. If you’re going to work with smart people, it is going to cost you. It’s possible to come up with creative ways to compensate them (trades, equity, etc), but that alone still isn’t going to get you to a MVP (minimal viable product).

    We pay ourselves, and we like to incentivize our team for working hard. Being the cheapest bid on the table doesn’t get us excited. We want to be fair to you and for you to be fair to us. We want to spend extra time on strategy and always bring the most talented people to the table. And we do, consistently. Whether it is us or someone else you trust, don’t insult the professionals you want to use. Respect their time and effort on your product. Find the professional(s) you like and trust, not the cheapest bid. It’ll save you far more in the near future. Figure out what the professional you want to use can offer within your budget that helps you gain traction quickly, whether its a strategic plan, an advanced prototype or a MVP.

  2. Don’t put money first, put your plan first. Chances are, if you’re reading this blog post about shoestring budgets, you don’t have as much money as you need or want to build your start-up. That’s why planning well is so important. Being realistic about how far you can get is key. And, figuring out how to identify ways to bring in seed capital – whether that is working overtime, getting money from friends and family, or a different path.

    Plan early and plan well. You’re going to need an absolute minimum of $5,000-$10,000 to start your company. And, that probably won’t – likely will not – get you a MVP. Use some of that money (likely a high percentage) to hire a professional consultant. Find someone you trust and can work well with. Use them to help establish a strategic and scalable plan for your company and its product(s). Spend time on your plan. You’ll have a million other things to do, but this is time well spent.

  3. Don’t establish a detailed plan for version 10, just version 1. As an entrepreneur, you’re already wearing 100 hats. You’re excited about your idea, and you really want to plan out how far it will go. There’s nothing wrong with looking at the big picture and planning ahead. In fact, we encourage it. But, it is easy to get carried away. Focus on planning the details for the first version of your product as well as possible. You’re going to miss something, so it won’t be perfect. It is time well spent to give your customers the best possible first experience with your brand and your product. If you jump ahead to minute details in version 10, you’re losing time that could be spent on your MVP and the first step to gaining traction, so you can actually make it to version 10.

Want more tips on working with shoestring budget to start a new tech product? We’d love to help with your project. Contact us!

By Taylor Peake