How to develop a mobile app in a strict budget and succeed

Let me guess… You have a “billion-dollar” app idea. But unlike all wantrepreneurs, you’ve already done the market research, figured out the main pain-points of your target users, and may be created wireframes as well.

All that is left now is converting your idea into a full-fledged mobile application. And for that, you need a budget.

Now, if you’ve already found an investor who is ready to invest thousands of dollars to build your mobile app, then you have one less thing to worry about.

On the other hand, if you’ve no investor backing you up but you believe in your idea and still want it to see the light of the day, then you might have to bootstrap it within a strict budget.

This is where things get complicated. Most first-time entrepreneurs think that building a mobile app requires a large amount of capital. But in reality, bootstrapping entrepreneurs are not so rare to find these days.

For example, Basecamp, Braintree, MailChimp, and many other startups were developed in a strict budget in their initial days.

The point is, it is absolutely possible to build a mobile app in a strict budget and not jeopardize success while doing so. However, there are certain steps you will have to follow.

In this article, I’ve shared a proven, step-by-step process through which you can successfully develop your mobile app in a strict budget.

5 steps to successfully develop your mobile app

Step: 1 – set ‘crystal clear’ goals

Photo: Flynt, BS

Before you start hiring mobile app developers to build your app, the first thing you need to do is set crystal clear goals of your mobile app. It’s because when you have a set of clear goals defined, it becomes easy to stick to a strict budget.

If, in case, you’re not sure how to set goals for your mobile app, just go through the below-mentioned checklist. It will help you come up with appropriate goals for your mobile app idea.

  • Who are your target users?
  • Who are your top competitors?
  • Why users should download your app? What unique value does it provide?
  • What are the problems your mobile app solves and with what functionalities?
  • What are the results you’re expecting to achieve through your mobile app?

These essential who, what, and why questions will help you define clear goals in the following way.

  • Your target users & top competitors
  • A list of essential functionalities & features of your mobile app
  • And lastly, a monetization strategy

Remember, you will need to have these goals while discussing your mobile app development cost with a company.

Step: 2 – choose the right pricing model

leading Sydney Debt collection agency
Photo: Rawpixel, BS

Hire on the hourly-basis or pay a fixed price for entire app development?

After defining the goals, many entrepreneurs get stuck at this step.

But the answer is quite easy actually. Since you’ll be on a strict budget, paying a fixed price makes more sense. However, keep in mind that the fixed price model does not allow you to make any changes once the contract is signed unless you agree to pay extra for those changes.

Therefore, ensure that you’re upfront about app specifications and talk openly about your budget restrictions.

If you receive costing higher than your budget, prioritize each feature in your mobile app based on Development Cost Vs User Needs explained in the next step.

Step: 3 – build features based on development cost vs user needs

Designers man drawing website ux app development. User experience concept.
Photo: Redpixel, BS

Certain features take more time to develop than other features, which in turn increases the cost of overall app development.

So, does this mean you should ditch high-cost features?

Absolutely not!

Here’s a quick example that explains why: Suppose you’re building an E-commerce mobile app. Now, just because payment integration costs more, does that means you should not incorporate it?

No! It doesn’t make sense, correct?

The point is, it is necessary to prioritize your features based on Development Costs Vs User Needs. In simple terms, you should always build low-cost/high-need features first. But at the same time, if the high-cost features are absolutely critical for your mobile app, then it’s better to opt for them first.

Step: 4 – consider building an MVP

Minimum Viable Product
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If the cost of the main features exceeds your budget, then building an MVP version first makes more sense.

MVP basically means Minimum Viable Product, which allows you to test your idea in the market with a truncated set of functionalities.

In fact, MVP is proven-way to gather feedback from users and analyze the actual demands of users, without building a full-fledged app.

This way, you not only avoid spending a lot of money, but you also validate your idea within your strict budget.

The best practice for building an MVP version is building just 1-3 core features of your app idea & test it in the real market. Then, once you get positive feedback from your early adopters, you can either pitch your idea to an investor to raise funding or invest your own money to develop a full-fledged application.

Step: 5 – set aside a budget for app maintenance

App maintenance is one of the important factors to consider while building a mobile app. If you fail to do so, it can jeopardize the financial plans of your mobile application development.

For example, suppose you’re developing a taxi booking app and wants to send out text notifications to your riders. In order to incorporate this feature, you will have to pay a recurring fee to a 3rd party service provider.

The same is true for integrating payment gateways, chatbot services, and many other functionalities.

So, when you’re creating a budget for your mobile app, make sure that you include app maintenance costs and allocate some funds to it.


Needless to say that building a mobile app requires a lot of effort, time, and money. And if you have a strict budget, it is always recommended to estimate the total cost beforehand to reduce the risk of wasting any money and save thousands of dollars along the way.

Hopefully, this step-by-step process has helped you learn how to build your mobile app within a strict budget.

Sandeep Agrawal
Sandeep Agrawal
Sandeep has more than 2 decades of experience in creating world-class teams and driving innovation through cutting edge products and mobile app development solutions. He is passionate about creating new technology solutions and delivering “Great Customer Experience” by evangelizing “Ubiquitous Mobility”. Being a CEO, Sandeep helps clients to bridge the execution gap with services including Consulting, Design & Architecture, Product strategy, software development, DevOps, Managed Services. With a motto of ‘Go Digital, Sandeep delivers an Extraordinary Customer Experience to its every client. Connect with Sandeep at [email protected].
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