The Secret Reason Why 78% of Small Businesses Don’t Have a Mobile App

May 13, 2015
Ashley Rondeau

You’d think by now we’ve achieved maximum saturation of mobile apps. After all, we have apps that can order a pizza at the press of a button to apps that can apparently translate what your dog is saying. The Apple App Store has over a million apps. How can there be room for any more?If you think this way, you’ll be surprised to hear that 78% of small businesses don’t have an app or mobile solution at all. 78%! Almost 4 out of 5 SMBs have no presence in the mobile world, and this is despite 71% of these businesses admitting that having one would positively impact their business.
So most SMBs know they should have a mobile app, but most still don’t. What’s the hurdle here?

The Professed Reasons

According to the recent survey by Endurance, here is the list of reasons that SMB owners gave when asked why they didn’t have a mobile solution:
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Do these reasons strike you as odd? Fully half of those surveyed said that they didn’t know how to build a mobile app. We would have liked to know how many of them knew they could simply ask someone to build it for them. We’re guessing 100%? After all, how many SMBs know how to build a website from scratch? Or how to connect a phone line? Or do their own taxes? These things are outsourced, of course, and they get done. Why should “not knowing how” be any sort of barrier at all here? This is not a real excuse.
The next two reasons are more legitimate, but also strike us as odd. “Too busy,” is understandable to a point. It takes time and focus for a business to move into mobile. This infographic shows that it takes, on average, 18 weeks to build a native mobile app. But most of that is on the developer side. The customer has little to do with most of those 18 weeks, and in our experience, the customer only needs to put in a handful of hour-long meetings at the kick-off of the design process. In actuality, choosing to create an app for your company isn’t a time-intensive process. If it is, then app developers like us are not doing a good job.
“Too expensive,” is also understandable up to a point. SMBs are often strapped for cash and mobile sites are far down on the list of their investments. The cost of mobile apps vary wildly, ranging from $6000 to over $150,000 (you get what you pay for). But remember that 71% of SMBs say that an app would positively impact their business. Most know it’s worth the money, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that businesses will see positive ROI on their mobile apps; for example,30% of all e-commerce is expected to derive from mobile. Mobile done right is a sound investment.
So what’s the real hang up for SMBs?

The Secret Reason

The real, secret reason most SMBs don’t have mobile apps islaziness.
Too harsh? Call it inertia, then. Whatever you call it, it’s that SMBs don’t really want to put the effort in to something they already know they should do, and are feigning ignorance to put off putting in the brainwork. The analogy here is our own physical health: we know we should exercise. We all know this. Exercise leads to a healthier life, a longer life, and overall higher levels of happiness. In fact, just running 5 minutes a day is enough to reduce the risk of premature death by 30%. Yet we don’t do it. We don’t want to eat our vegetables. That’s why personal trainers have jobs: motivation is the key component to getting off the couch.
Likewise, SMBs know mobile isn’t going away and that if they want to capture the wallets of millennials, they need to be on mobile. It’s for the future health of their company. And they don’t need to learn how to make a mobile app as much as they don’t need to learn how to wire their office with ethernet. It’s an investment that doesn’t take much time, will eventually pay for itself, and is necessary to stay competitive…but it does take initiative. It needs to be a priority.
SMBs will come around. They have to or some other company will eat their lunch. But seeing the barren landscape of SMBs in mobile at the moment, the companies willing to put in the brainwork will have an edge by getting started now. No more excuses. Get up off your couch. Let’s get mobile!
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