3 Specific Actions You Can Take Today to Improve your Mobile App Business

How to Make an App

In this Episode, Chris and David recover from the last episode and focus on the positive – specific actions you can take today to improve your mobile app business:

  1. Learn how to hire, fire, manage and create SOPs
  2. Join a mastermind
  3. Start developing your own code
  4. Understand analytics and start tracking custom events, performing tests etc.. (ep 8,10,12)
  5. Go sign up for app jetpack beta.
  6. Follow and understand the key components of gamification and monetization
  7. Become an expert in retention
  8. Partner with a developer, or developer partner with a publisher

[Tweet “The most impactful way to improve your mobile app business is by joining a mastermind”]


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Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode


Chris: Hi and welcome to the App Business Podcast as always or most always. I’m joined by David Pfahler. Hey, David.

David:             Hey, Chris.

Chris: If you joined us for the last episode, we crushed your soul and your heart. We broke your heart and we bared our soul. We turned into a psychology class. Today we’re going to do it a little different.

We’re going to pump you up. We’re going to get you fired up. We’re going to hopefully spark some ideas about what you can be doing to take your mobile app business and career and everything, portfolio to the next level. Level means downloads, money, happiness, everything.

The name of this episode, “Three Ways to Take the Leap in your Mobile App Career,” and we started writing what we thought were the top three things, and we’re on eight. So it’s three ways to take the leap in your mobile app career plus five. Also, we have promised that we were going to read some reviews. Let me do that real quick. Guys, we brush over this sometimes. We forget to do it.

We don’t miss these. We really appreciate comments, reviews, everything. We know it takes time to leave a review and it takes some time to go and search us out and enter the conversation with us about what we’re talking about on the podcast. So really appreciate the time you guys are taking to both review and then interact with us on the website, appbusinesspodcast.com.

David:             Quick tip maybe. If you really want to leave a review and you can’t find us on iTunes, I heard that can happen for some crazy reason. We actually asked Apple about it. They couldn’t really figure it out either. You’re not showing up sometimes in the search results if you search for App Business Podcast.

So just search for an episode name or something like that and you will find us. It would be great if you could leave a review like that. That way it’s even harder. So I really appreciate if you do.

Chris: Yeah. The way I found is easiest, if you start typing it in, then I think iTunes auto completes it for you and you select the auto complete. But if you try to type it in without the auto complete, it doesn’t find it. I don’t know. We’ve gone back and forth with them and it’s not going to be fixed. At least not that we know how to.

Okay, so reviews. Again, we know it’s hard to get to this page, so thanks for the reviews. SavvyPainter, “Excited to hear more of these. This is a great topic and something I’ve been thinking about. Thanks, David and Chris for putting these together.”

Alexdesigns wrote, “Great topic and great show. I’ve been learning a lot about app marketing and excited for this new show. There is so much to learn about this area and this show helps me stay on the cutting edge. Looking forward to more episodes.” Very good.

Denny Krahe wrote a great review. “Good stuff. In this app crazy world, what a great show. If your business has a great, functional app, you are setting yourself up for success. Not sure where to start? Press play.” I think we should put that one on our website.

David:             Nice.

Chris: That guy’s like a good copywriter. How about one more? Maurice Cherry. Oh, you know? I think Maurice has his own podcast as well. “A must listen for any app developers. I’ve already recommended this to several developer friends of mine who are interested in building apps. Great information from both the business and technical side.” Nice. Maurice . . .

David:             Thank you very much.

Chris: . . . really appreciate it. Yeah. Guys, keep the reviews coming. We really appreciate it. I think we’re on episode, like, 25 or something, so it doesn’t feel new anymore, but it still feels like we’re feeling around in the dark trying to figure out what everyone wants to hear.

We’re starting to get a ton of emails and really appreciate those who are sharing with us and interacting with us, because really we’re trying to start a conversation. We’re learning a lot, David and I, just talking with each other and researching the topics, but on the private emails you guys are sending where we’re trading more conversations just takes it to the next level, and that’s really what a lot of this is about. In fact, this is one of the things in the three ways to take the leap in your mobile app career.

What a good segue. But that’s number two, so I’m going to start with number one. It’s all about scale and leverage, and we harped on it last episode. Learn how to hire, fire, manage, and create SOPs or SODs, standard operating procedures, processes, documents, whatever your favorite word is there. That means that you’re hiring devs and you understand how to hire devs. You understand how to let them go. You understand how to manage them and communicate with them.

That was something that was a significant learning curve with me, was understanding how to talk to developers, because I don’t speak the same language. Literally, we don’t speak the same language, because oftentimes they’re in South America or the Ukraine or Russia or India or Pakistan. Then also they are thinking from their development perspective and I’m thinking from a finished product perspective.

Learning how to communicate and hire and fire, and then the even better next step is the SOPs that you’re passing to your VA and having them execute on. Man, that will skyrocket your business and make you so much more effective. It really opens the world of apps. You can do so many more apps with a VA that kicks butt than relying on the existing library of APIs, right?

David and I talk about this from time to time. “Hold on. You can’t do that. There’s no API.” It’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to have a VA do it.” It allows for a lot more apps to be created that you couldn’t otherwise create.

David:             Yeah, very much so. Just to defend my reputation, may I recommend two books?

Chris: It wouldn’t be a podcast if you didn’t recommend a book.

David:             Okay, so first one I guess is a little bit off topic but still relevant, is just “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Very classic. Very good book. Also, if you like to have the more simplified zen version, I can recommend “Zen To Done” by Leo Babauta, but that’s just for your personal stuff. So just to get yourself personally organized.

But if you want to apply the same level of organized execution to your organization of whatever kind, then you should really read Work the System. I think we talked about before. Sam Carpenter. “Work the System” is a classic, and he’s using this SOP term all the time. He really walks you through how to build these SOPs if you have none yet, and I know that’s the hardest phase.

When we started writing SOPs, we’re sort of overwhelmed where to start, because you have all these implicit processes that you’re just doing or someone is doing for you and they’re the only one who had to know how to do it. So you need to start somewhere. If you need a book for that, “Work the System”.

Chris: That’s the book that kind of launched me on my SOP journey. Yeah, once you start writing SOPs, it’s amazing how much you take for granted. I think Dan and Ian were sharing their SOP for creating their podcast and it’s something like, not counting the recording or the editing, just the process of getting the files into Dropbox, editing to something else, it was something like 52 steps. That’s the kind of things we’re talking about.

What it does is it makes your business not person dependent. If someone were to quit or do something else, want another role or something, you can hand that SOP over to another person and they could be executing on what you need them to do. It’s a huge step for leverage and it’s a huge step for diversifying or kind of creating a moat around your business and making it that much more resilient.

David:             And it is not just for making the persons themselves replaceable, but it’s also to avoid the mistakes. Even if I’m the only one using an SOP, I might still write one just to have a checklist for myself which I can go, “Okay, step one, step two, step three.”

Chris: Great point.

David:             And actually do all of that and stuff like that.

Chris: Yeah.

David:             For example, I did write an SOP for editing this podcast. Even though you might have noticed the editing is not too fancy, but there are certain steps that need to be done every single time. So I just wrote, and it’s I think two and a half pages, so it’s actually quite an SOP. Then there’s a one-page checklist for it. But it allows me to give the SOP to any editor that I want. If the editor is sick or decides to not do editing anymore, I can just give it to someone else.

Chris: Right. Yeah. In fact, that reminds me, I have an SOP that I wrote for myself around social media, because I suck at knowing how to do all that stuff, and every time I look at it I feel like I’m recreating the wheel. So I just created a process, like, “Okay, you’re going to tweet when the episode is out. You’re going to tweet the next day. You’re going to tweet a week later.” There’s just a process so I don’t have to keep remembering how to do it or keep learning how to do it. SOPs are the bee’s knees, right?

David:             Yeah. Anyway, more details in the book I guess.

Chris: Yeah. Number two. This is a big one that really helped my mobile app business go to the next level. Joining a mastermind. Like finding a community and actively participating with the people in the community. I know that a lot of the listeners or some of the listeners we know from the Dynamite Circle. In fact, David and I met through there and joined a mastermind group on the DC, as it’s called. I think the website for that, David, is tropicalmba.com.

David:             Yeah, so the Dynamite Circle itself is that dynamitecircle.com. The Dynamite Circle itself was founded out of the Lifestyle Business podcast, which isn’t around anymore, because it’s now morphed into or merged into the Tropical Talk Radio. That’s all about tropicalmba.com with the great guys, Dan and Ian . . .

Chris: Wow.

David:            . . . which we have quoted on this show before, right?

Chris: Yeah, yeah. Then kind of out of that came Mobile 10x, which is something that Patrice kind of, Patrice has been on the show, and he started it. There’s about 50 members and there’s three or four masterminds going. It’s super helpful to not only be held accountable by people every week, but it’s amazing what you learn by interacting with people that are struggling with the same things that you’re struggling with and different things.

Part of the podcast is I’m a publisher/marketer type guy and David is a developer. Just interacting with the developers in the mastermind a year ago, a year and a half ago when we first kind of all met, opened my eyes to how they thought about things. I could ask them questions that I couldn’t ask my freelance, Elance, oDesk developer, because I didn’t even know how to ask the question. It took me way to the next level.

What I found is, boy, that’s not just with mobile apps. All sorts of people are joining these communities and joining masterminds, because the networking’s outstanding, but man, do you learn a lot. It’s just hard to list all the things you learn, because very mastermind is different, but if you’re not involved in one, go join one. Go figure it out.

I’ve got a couple listed here. We mentioned the DC. Mobile 10x. Steve P. Young. He does Mobile App Chat. It’s another podcast. His is a little different than ours, our podcast. He’s got really great guests. He started a community or a mastermind group where they meet weekly, I believe. It’s like an accountability group. I wanted to pump that for Steve.

Greg Hickman is someone that I’ve chatted with a couple times and I think we need to get on the show. He has a . . . Well, we’re going to have to link to it in the show notes, but they all have their own mastermind groups. There’s an expense on a lot of them, but it’s almost worth it to have the expense, because it kind of filters out people who aren’t super serious.

Then if you’re just looking for more entrepreneurial, less dedicated to mobile apps, one that I haven’t joined yet but I’m talking to the guys about joining, is Fire Nation Elite. That’s Johnny Dumas’s mastermind group. Just so you have an idea, these are all, like, $300 to $500 a quarter. It’s a significant investment.

Greg’s might be cheaper. Mobile 10x, I’m not sure if Patrice is charging right now. The DC I think is $100 a quarter, but it’s not dedicated to mobile. There’s different levels of investment, but then there’s going to be different levels of people involved and interacting in these groups. I just think it’s well worth the investment. I’m involved in two of them and want to join a third. That’s how much I’m spending on these things.

David:             I guess the point is also if the weight’s not paid for with the gold, then there’s a reason for that. If you’re not willing to spend that kind of money on a mastermind, maybe you need to look more and spend more time finding a good group and stuff like that. But it’s an investment either way, but it’s one that really, really pays off.

Chris: Yeah.

David:             I think it’s really hard to overstate or overestimate what the mastermind has done for me and for you.

Chris: Yeah.

David:             We wouldn’t have this podcast. It absolutely, probably my number one recommendation to you and your mobile app business

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. There’s some free ones. There’s some Facebook groups. If you’re an App Empire alum, like you went through that course, I think there’s a pretty active Facebook group that I wish I could participate in, but you have to go through that course. There’s some free options, but I can tell you the difference between a free Facebook group and a genuine mastermind where you pay some monthly or quarterly fee is a significant difference.

If you’re serious and you want to work with and talk with other people who are serious about this stuff, man, I agree with David, number one thing you can do.

Okay, number three. This is one that was kind of a late add, but I realized how critical it was to my kind of leap, was start developing my own code. By that, we don’t mean actually doing the code. I mean you’re not just buying code, like reskinning code, and then changing the graphics and the theme and the keywords and calling it a day.

You’re going and finding your own niche opportunities and your own trends, and you’re developing code how you think is best to develop the code and improve on the existing things out there, and leaving open the option for reskinning your own code as opposed to competing with the code that is sold 10, 20, 30, 50 times over and then reskinned 10, 20 times over. Instead of competing with thousands of apps, you compete with whoever is in your niche that you choose to compete with, but on your own code. I think that’s a huge step in the development of a mobile app entrepreneur.

David:             I think it’s getting more relevant by the day. The more time passes, the more opportunities of just putting out new apps that are all based on the same thing is shrinking. It’s not just an opportunity, but there’s also an increasing pressure to start innovating in that space.

Chris: Yeah.

David:             Yes. I think it’s important to say that you don’t have to do a 180. There’s absolutely valid reasons to purchase code and to purchase snippets. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to purchase a well written piece of code that does exactly what you want than writing it yourself or having it written by your developer. But then do something with it. Like then innovate on top of that.

Chris: Right.

David:             Then add your own code.

Chris: You know, if you want, you could sell your own code as reskin code. Instead of releasing apps, you could sell it at reskin code, but at least it’s your code. There’s some competitive advantage. There’s some value that you’re adding outside of just buying some code, hiring some service to do all the graphics and the theme, and outsourcing your ASO.

It’s almost like you’re not doing anything but handing over money. There’s just not a lot of value in that. A lot of people have money. A lot of people can do that. And you learn so much more when you’re responsible for every back button and how do the in app currencies work and what ad networks do I use. Yeah, it really took my mobile app business to another level, and I’m sure it would take yours if you’re not currently doing that.

Okay, number four. We told you it was three ways, but we wrote eight, so we’re just going to keep going. Maybe only a couple of these will resonate, but even if only a couple, we hope that it helps spark some either curiosity or some action, and we’d love to hear what you’re doing. Number four, understanding your analytics.

I was definitely guilty my first year of dropping in the Flurry SDK, which is like three lines of code, and getting the basic, “Oh, here’s how many sessions, and here’s how much time the person was in, and here’s the loose generic demographics of who’s using my app.” Yeah, that’s important to know, but really taking it to the next level of custom events, and if your app is level based, how far have users progressed, and where are they dropping out.

There’s just so much you can learn on who’s sharing and why are they sharing and what are they sharing. What about ad space? Is this ad space effective? There’s so much you can do to better implement and understand analytics. If you do this, you’re ahead of the game, because the last report we saw, 50% of apps don’t even use analytics at all, which is insane to me.

David:             Yeah. To me, that means that the remaining 50%, maybe, maybe half of them actually look at the data. That’s 50% overall who’s not even collecting data.

Chris: Yeah.

David:             Then of that remaining 50%, how many actually do something with it like you just said?

Chris: Yeah.

David:             Yeah, you’re way ahead of the game. If you’re interested in that analytic stuff, check out episodes eight, 10, and 12 where we have a three-part series just talking about analytics.

Chris: Great, yeah. There’s a ton of great books. In fact, I think we’re probably due for a resources podcast, where we just talk about our favorite resources. There’s a lot to learn on analytics, a lot to test, but so much you can do to improve your apps. The challenge with a lot of my peers, people like me and David and listeners and I guess the average indie dev, is they have a lot of apps. If you have five, 10, 20, 50, 100 apps, you’ve got tons and tons of data.

Our number five thing to take the leap is very self serving. It’s my new diagnostic service, App Jetpack. We are now accepting beta members. You can go to appjetpack.com, take a look at a high level of what the services are looking like. We’re adding screenshots every week as we get more finalized screens. You could be part of the beta class. Really, the requirement for the beta class is use the product so we can then ask you what’s working for you and what’s not.

But what it does is it takes all that analytics data that you’re collecting and it gives you actionable recommendations. “Do this. Do that. Your retention is low. Here’s how you fix it,” da da da da da. Kind of four and five are tied together. Understanding analytics and how to implement them and what the purpose of them is. Then go get a piece of software that is working with you to make use of all those analytics that you’re collecting.

David:             Yeah, talking about being head of the game, right? Guys, if you are listening to this and you have apps and you have apps that collect data, go to App Jetpack now. What is it, the domain, again?

Chris: Yeah. Appjetpack.com.

David:             Appjetpack.com. Sign up for the beta. I’ve seen it on the mastermind with Chris before. It is really amazing. If you want to make sense of your analytics, I would absolutely go for it. Frankly, I’ll be using it.

Chris: Yeah. I mean, I built it because I needed it. Well, I didn’t build it, but Jessie’s building it because clearly everyone who had apps on the mastermind and everyone we’re talking to is like, “Yeah, that’s a great idea. Please give me that.” We’re telling you, “Here’s what to do to take the leap.” Like always, these are struggles we have too. These are things we’re remind ourselves to do and get better at and keep improving on.

Analytics is just this super huge untapped thing where people build an app, throw it into the store, and if it doesn’t get 100 or 500, 1,000 downloads a day, they just forget about it. Once you move out of pure reskinning and into developing your own code, there’s too much invested to just treat it like throwaway code. You need to do some learning and you need to improve, need to optimize. When you get all those things right, you have winners. You get retention right, and the world’s beautiful. Everything just starts working.

David:             Or you can just throw away the code and do the next app and follow the herd. That’s . . .

Chris: Right, right.

David:            . . . the alternative, right?

Chris: Yeah. That always seems to work out.

David:             Yes. Yeah, definitely don’t do that.

Chris: Right.

David:             Do focus on retention. Connecting to data, I guess is the next point. Follow and understand the key components of gamification monetization. Yeah, retention, very important to understand. Monetization, and I think very closely connected to monetization today is gamification. Understanding these core concepts, probably very important. What are the core concepts? What do you think, Chris?

Chris: Well, let’s knock out monetization, because I think we have an idea that ad placements, ad networks, ad formats, like types of ads, obviously in app, the freemium conversation, in app versus paid versus remove the ads versus virtual currencies, all these types of things. I rattled off, like, 10 things, so maybe it is bigger than what I’m giving it credit.

But gamification is all the really cool stuff like achievements and I guess you could call it a retention mechanic. Things like, “Hey, thanks for coming back. Here’s some coins.” Or understanding what the loops are, where here’s what a person does for one minute in your app, and here’s what they do for one hour in your app, and here’s why they come by the next day to play your app, and understanding how your app satisfies those loops and addresses each stage. I think I said achievements and goals.

There’s so much to do with gamification. It doesn’t only relate to games. It’s across everything. Sales forces are using gamification techniques in sales programs. Gamification is like this new huge science, and just because app games are doing so well, it’s kind of been part of the conversation. But understanding behavior and gamification as it relates to your apps is huge for retention, huge for monetization. Just understanding the key concepts will help you start thinking about your apps in a different way.

It won’t be just like, “Oh, well I think I need to connect to Facebook, so let me share something.” It will make you start thinking critically about where social fits into the whole app design. It is not just something you latch on at the end. It’s critical in your whole app model and how the app works.

Yeah, I really nerded out on gamification and monetization over the last couple months. It changes the way I look at apps. I’m just that much more confident going into an app design knowing that, “Look, I’ve addressed these issues.” These common leakage points, let’s say, for apps, or these common things that are easy to fix but people don’t do well, so there’s nothing in it for the users to come back. There’s no connection with the app.

Yeah. Again, three ways to take the leap in your mobile app career. Number six, follow and understand these components.

David:             Obviously, we’re just touching on most of these points and probably going to do a lot of episodes for them individually. Now on the new schedule we have more opportunity to actually go into all of these topics. Anyway, I think it’s still good to have an overview like this. Those are all the things that we think are good to look at right now.

The next one is just such a point, is become an expert in retention. So we just talked about retention right before the gamification. Yes, it’s pretty easy to just say, “Become an expert in all of these things.” Yeah. Easier said than done obviously.

Chris: Right.

David:             But it’s still important to know where you’re going to focus. Are you really going to focus on pumping out new reskinned apps or are you going to focus on these deeper levels which are most of the time a little bit harder, a little bit more intellectually harder, than just keep producing, but they also have pretty high rewards.

Chris: Yeah. Harder is a good thing, because that’s barriers to entry. Not everyone can just buy the code and spin it off.

David:             Yes.

Chris: Understanding retention mechanics and all that stuff is going to put a moat around your apps and around your business. Real quick, a couple of really good blogs that I follow for gamification and retention. Deconstructor of Fun is an awesome blog. He just dissects these games and says what works and why it works and what doesn’t. And then Science of Freemium. We’ll have this out in the show notes.

Again, a year ago you could focus on ASO and keywords and really make a huge impact on your apps. People weren’t even filling in the keyword field or they were filling in one or two keywords. That’s just not how it is anymore. The tools have progress so much. ASO is like one of the big keywords from 2013. I don’t think that that’s such a huge competitive advantage anymore.

That’s like, oh, what is it called? An ante of playing. That’s part of playing. You just have to have that. Focusing on monetization, yeah, but that’s limited. Retention is where it’s at. I guarantee you, the big publishers, of course they can buy traffic, so some of the stuff is solved with ASO, but retention is where they focus, because if you get retention right, everything else comes together, everything else works. I’m hoping that more and more people focus on that in 2014. I know I’m going to be focusing on that.

Somehow I am consulting with apps now. I guess the podcast is good, because people say, “Hey, I want to work with Chris.” That’s what we talk about. We talk about, “Okay, how can we get people coming back to this app? What are some of the tools that fit with this app that solve that problem?” A person coming back 10 times instead of two times is like five times more downloads. If you understood that math, it’s a huge impact. Yeah.

David:             Absolutely.

Chris: That could be like a whole quarter of conversation.

David:             A whole series, yeah.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. I’m by no means an expert, but you know what? Knowing that being an expert would help my portfolio gets me focused on understanding, reading everything I can about it. There are guys that all they do is focus on specific points of retention in these big companies. I’m not going to be able to compete with those guys, but I can get close and I can understand what they’re talking about and I can understand how it applies to my portfolio of apps and different people I work with. Again, I think these . . .

David:             And we . . . Go ahead.

Chris: I was going to say, I think these get harder as we go because, like you said, “Oh, just become an expert in everything,” right? Yeah, these are harder things. Learning how to hire and fire or joining the mastermind, that’s easy. A little harder developing your own code. Now we’re talking about, “Okay, understand retention mechanics.” Okay, that’s harder, definitely. But will it take your app career and your portfolio to the next level? Absolutely.

David:             Yeah. I was just trying to say that we don’t have to compete with the absolute experts on their area of expertise, but they usually work in big companies spending a lot of budget on these things, and we are not that big, and we don’t have such costs. So we can compete on that or we can compete on being innovative or . . .

Chris: Yeah.

David:            . . . these other things. But what we cannot do is afford to completely ignore these kinds of things . . .

Chris: Right.

David:            . . . because then the big companies will win. You know?

Chris: Right, yeah. We have agility on our side, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we can put our head in the sand on these huge pieces of app success, right?

David:             True.

Chris: Okay, last one, number eight. There’s more, but these are the eight that we came up with and thought they really resonated with us today. Partner with someone that’s different than you. This is what I think. I’m curious what David thinks. But in other words, I’m a publisher or a marketer. Partner with a developer or a designer. If you’re a designer, partner with a developer or a marketer, etc.

Put two of those three together, because I think you’ll start to catch not only how well you complement the other person, but you’ll find out what their struggles with or their incentives are. I think it will really help you understand better what other people in the marketplace are doing. Then having a partner instead of someone that you hired opens up a whole different type of conversation.

It allows for a lot more strategic design of certain, let’s say, app portfolios, or like David and I are building a game together. It’s fun because I get to see how they’re thinking about certain things. David, what do you think about that?

David:             I do agree . . .

Chris: Okay.

David:            . . . with a caveat.

Chris: Okay.

David:             I do think it’s absolutely correct if you do want to partner. Partner is a very broad term, but let’s just say you want to be actual business partners and share a mobile app business. Then you do want to make sure that you don’t partner with a developer, from a publisher’s point of view, but it’s probably true the other way around as well, which is too much into their own camp, so to speak.

It is not . . . Like a developer which is only focused on the code and only wants to know about the code and does not want to know about the mobile app business at all. That’s going to be hard to work with, especially moving forward. In the beginning that might work very well, because you do take care of all the publishing, all of the marketing stuff, and they actually create the app and you sell it and that’s good.

As you start to grow, the partner should be, like he is going to need to do more than just be a developer that just creates apps. He has to do management of other developers and be something more like a project manager if you grow. If the person is not willing to do that, and let’s say you’ve given them 50% of the company or even just 30% of the company, then there’s going to be a problem, because if you grow and your company gets bigger, you think, “Why does this person have 50% of my company if he’s just a developer like the 15 other ones I have here?”

Chris: Right. That’s a great point.

David:             That’s what you need to think about. You need to think about how can you both as partners, and as I said, it probably goes into both directions, how can you both grow and maybe walk towards each other a little bit over time so you can both do more interesting and more high leverage work.

Chris: Yeah. Well, it certainly helps when each party has a little bit of a proven track record. Just using David and I’s example, I put out a bunch of apps and I’ve sold some apps and I’m still pumping out apps and making money from apps. So David’s confident that, okay, I’ve got an app out before. I’ve got 100 apps out before and I’ve sold an app. He knows that I can pull this off.

I know David can pull it off because not only has he built a bunch of apps, but he’s also built a framework for apps. He’s, in my mind, like next level stuff with this stuff. And, of course, we talk all the time.

I think it’s harder, and we’ve talked about this a little bit in Mobile 10x, when you’re the dreaded guy with an idea and you’re looking for a developer to do it for a percent. If you can sell that idea, man, there is a possibility you can find that dev partnership and limit some of the risk. Of course you limit your upside, but you limit the risk of paying out of pocket for your idea.

But I think it almost becomes not a financial decision, because I’m not trying to save money on dev. That’s not why I partnered with David on this next series of apps we’re working on. It’s really just non-financial stuff. How would you say that, David? I’m not trying to save money by working with you, for free dev. You know?

David:             I think you’re not trying to save on the costs on it, but you’re trying to gain on the opportunity side. Actually, you’re trying to save on the opportunity cost, so to speak. The problem is that if you’re just partnering with someone to save some costs, then what could happen is exactly what I said.

So you should plan on success, is actually what you should do. You should not think, “Well, giving him five, 10, 15% of my company,” whatever your deal is, “that’s not much. I’m still having the majority stake.” It doesn’t work out that way.

Chris: Right.

David:             I think there’s a whole episode on the Tropical Talk Radio about it doesn’t work out that way. There’s no such thing as being in control just because you have the majority share of the company. So you should really think long and hard. Isn’t there any other way you can just get the money and pay the developer and take the risk? That’s what an entrepreneur does, is he takes some risk. That’s what he does to reap some rewards.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t give someone share of revenue for a certain period of time or things like that, but you shouldn’t do it out of the wrong incentives. The incentive to partner with someone at all, I think, should be that they bring something to the table that you wouldn’t find otherwise, something that you cannot buy, and something that will help both of you to grow. It shouldn’t be a one-way relationship . . .

Chris: Yeah.

David:            . . . in any way, because if it is or if it just has a characteristic like that, like the majority of the relationship is pretty much one-way, then you should just pay that person or you should just find a way to pay that person, because it will be better in the long run.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. That’s really it. That’s really it. If it’s a financial decision, if you’re the entrepreneur guy, dude, take the risk and go for it. Don’t give up your upside. Don’t give up equity. Yeah.

While David was talking, I was thinking of really what it was, and it’s really that I believe the one plus one equals three thing, where I think if we put our minds together, we could come up with something better than David doing his stuff and me hiring my ideas out. So really having a collaborative partner there. Then I also get Stefan too, so it’s like a two-for-one deal.

Yeah. That, I think, is new to me, like the strategic partnership with someone opposite you, but I think it’s got the potential already in just some of the conversations we’ve had about the apps we’re building. It opened my mind to different ideas, and I’m excited about where we could go next, because again, it’s not talking to someone as an employee. It’s talking to someone that shares the same goals and incentives as you do. Potentially very powerful stuff, but again, you’ll hear on the podcast. We’ll talk in six months and . . .

David:             We’ll see how it turns out.

Chris: Yeah, we’ll be like, “Oh, it was terrible. It was the worst partnership ever.” So we’ve really put ourselves out there.

David:             [inaudible 00:39:01].

Chris: Yeah. David, this was the best three ways to take a leap in your career. This is a good three list.

David:             Using an eight-point bullet list, yeah.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

David:I appreciated it. Great conversation. Thank you very much, Chris.

Chris: Yeah. Guys, thanks for listening. Really appreciate it. I think this is going to be a packed show notes, because we referenced a lot of stuff. But again, not to distill it into one thing, but if you’re not in a mastermind, go join a mastermind. If you haven’t left a comment or engaged us on our website, do that too, man.

This could be your first step to joining a mastermind, is engaging with us. Appbusinesspodcast.com. Then give us a review too please. Thank you very much. Guys, we’ll talk to you soon.


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  • adrian

    Awesome show, dudes. Really happy with the new three week format. Also, your last episode wasn’t totally depressing – finally inspired me to stop attempting to do everything myself. Thanks for this. Keep up the great work.

    • David Pfahler

      I’m glad the last episode wasn’t too depressing, Adrian 😉 Seriously though, that’s the kind of insights I hope to be able to share on this show. Doing everything myself is still a big urge for me and I need business guys like Chris to tell me to stop doing the minutia. Thanks for the kind words, it fuels the show.

      • adrian

        You’re very welcome – this show is basically shaping the way I work. Not even exaggerating. One question – what were the two books you recommended for time management? One had Zen in the title?

        • David Pfahler

          Sorry that was not in the show notes. The classic is called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. A simplified version built on top of that is “Zen To Done” by Leo Babauta. The latter is a really great system with low barrier of entry were the first one is very sophisticated and powerful, but harder to get started with and maintain.

          For Zen To Done we have even created an app a long time ago. We are currently creating v2.0 so if you want to check it out, I’d recommend you wait a month or two.

          Bonus Tip: For outsourcing, delegating, etc. (so everything that helps with not doing it all yourself) the Bibel is “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter (http://www.workthesystem.com/).

    • Chris Chidgey

      thanks for comments Adrian. This is one thing I am learning – many folks really struggle with outsourcing/SOPs etc…. I just wrote a guest blog post about SOPs – we will have to review for an episode – I can share exactly which tasks I have SOPs for, my template/format etc…

      • adrian

        I would be very interested in that! Thanks again to both of you.

  • Terris Phillips

    All 8 of 3 ways to impact my app business were very insightful, specifically #1 SOP’s. I am a firm believer in “processes, procedures, and structure,” my question is what is your SOP for deciding what source code to purchase and re-skin? What key elements are you looking for? How does turnaround time, and ROI play into the equation? Then lastly, where do you start when re-designing the app? Is there a science behind re designing or do you just wait until a idea comes, and try to to apply it, like trying to match lyrics to a melody? Thanks guys!!!

    • David Pfahler

      Thanks for the great feedback, Terris. Lots of great questions here. I think there is no short answer to your comment, so we ought to do one (or more) episodes about that. I know that Chris has much more experience with reskinning and he also has rules to make decisions. I can only provide a little more abstract insight, but I’ll try to make it concrete with a different example.

      I previously (in another life 😉 played Poker (Texas Hold’em) quite seriously. I come back to the lessons I learned playing poker a lot! While reading your question, I was reminded of how I studied countless of different systems that you could play without much thinking. For example, the so called short stack strategy is something your would use if you wanted to play with a small amount of chips relative to the blind size. This means a lot of waiting for good cards, stealing blinds and going all in with great odds. Not very fun, but over a long period of time in a fishy environment very profitable if you played 20 tables or so at a time. However, short stack is not the only strategy that works. And if you decide to play with a big stack, you would need to change your rules dramatically. So, there is no one perfect strategy, but it depends on what you have (how much do you want to invest) and what you are trying to do (how much and how fast do you want in return). And secondly, you need to know “form to leave form” (Josh Waitzkin, Art of Learning). In my opinion, it is important to have a system, a set of rules, but only to have a firm foundation on which you can start to move freely. Once you have mastered the system, you need to know when to bend and break the rules from time to time.

      In my opinion, in the case of reskinning, you are playing short stack, metaphorically speaking. Great for beginners, great to learn the game and make some money, but I honestly played enough short stack for the rest of my life 😉 Hope that wasn’t too philosophical, otherwise Chris needs to rescue it. 😛

    • Chris Chidgey

      I generally reserve SOPs for repeatable tasks. Even ASO I only pass off 80% – then I take the results and turn it into a title and optimized keywords. I still treat new apps and the research required like an art…. not something I pass to a VA following a set of rules or steps…

      As David said below, and I feel like we say every episode – buying code to rekin and then reskinning is a good place to start to learn how to submit an app, hire and manage devs and designers and see process from start to finish without a huge cash outlay. BUT – I do not believe buying code and reskinning is the way to build an app portfolio – on average. Rather – identify opportunities either by keyword traffic vs competition discrepancies, by researching various niches or monetization models, or following your strengths….and then create your own code. Thats the value, fun, challenge, thing that gets you paid anyways.

      So to evaluate these opportunities – my rules are:
      – must be able to include some kind of virtual currency or unlockable content,
      – must be able to make a better version than the best option currently in market,
      – ideally better with friends, and
      – ideally can address multiple niches with same or similar code base.

      Quizzes are an obvious example – but are super-saturated now as opposed to when I jumped in there 12 mths ago.

      People like 1 min games. An easy starter game could be Hi/Lo vs Friends (and/or for money). Lots of ways to reuse the code, can get VC in there, vs friends make it sticky and viral, and simple enough to test to see if market wants this quickly and w/o a lot of cash…

      Hope all of that made sense and didn’t put the carrot too far out of reach.

    • David Pfahler

      Chris will share some of his SOP juice on episode 32. Stay tuned!

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