Business Strategy

But what does it cost?

We’ve been pitched on hundreds of app ideas. Some of them good. Some of them not so good. But some of them have been fantastic. No matter the quality of the idea, they all ask the same thing after they’ve shared their concept. “What does it cost?”

It’s a reasonable question. MotionMobs offers a service, and that service isn’t free. Of course anyone who meets with us wants to know how much we would charge for the project they described. Here’s the kicker, though:

There is no answer we can give you to that question that will make you happy.


Because you’re thinking about it the wrong way.

Cost vs investment

When your ultimate question is what it costs, you’re viewing your project as an expense or a burden. It’s like taking your car to the repair shop and asking what it will cost to fix that clunking noise. The mechanic gives you a price for the repair, and that’s simply the cost of continuing to drive your car. Most people don’t run a cost-benefit analysis on car repairs unless they’re about to sell the vehicle. It’s a headache but a necessary evil because you need your car. No one really ever expects to get that $200 back.

Viewing your app project as an expense you’re just going to have to pay for will never result in you feeling good about what you’re spending. Apps are tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your app is truly just a luxury to have, that’s probably the number one reason we could give you as evidence that you shouldn’t build an app. Apps aren’t fancy espresso machines for the break room that make your team feel warm and fuzzy about how much you care about them.

What is the impact?

The true question isn’t for us; it’s for you.

How much impact will this app have on your business?

Sure, your app will have a price tag attached to it, but the true cost of the app completely depends on the impact it has on your company. Bad decisions cost more than good ones because there’s no return on investment. For example, a $15,000 app may cost your company $25,000 if you build it, launch it, promote it, and shut it down because you didn’t build what you needed. A $300,000 app may cost your company absolutely nothing if you can increase sales by at least $300,000 as a result.

Nothing impresses us more in a pitch than someone who can explain what their company stands to gain if they get this app right. It may be an increase in efficiency that decreases wasteful spending. It may be scaling beyond what the current team can do manually. It may be processing orders faster than traditional methods, leading to an increase in overall sales. Anyone who can confidently say how their revenue will change as a result of the app fundamentally understands the true value of the project.

Return on investment

Your software should always be an investment, not a cost. An investment that yields more than you put into it is a worthwhile one, but any financial advisor will remind you that returns of 25x aren’t realistic. Align your expectations for your business with your budget for development, no matter the size of your business. You can’t make $1 million from a $20,000 investment, but you also shouldn’t spend $60,000 to fix a $5,000 burden.

As soon as you start viewing software as an investment instead of an expense, you can start planning for it strategically. Want some help? We’d love to chat. Drop us a note.

By Emily Hart