A man sits at a counter in a cafe. He has one hand on the keyboard of an open laptop while his other hand holds up a smartphone. The man has dark hair and a beard starting to grow in. He's wearing a chambray shirt over a gray T-shirt. On the other side of the counter is a room on a lower level lit with golden light streaming in front outside.
An app developer will be able to take your business's app from an idea to a usable mobile application. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Hiring the right app development agency is crucial if you want to create a small business app. This company will help design, develop, and implement your app. Here are five steps you can take to hire an app developer.

Create a budget

The first step is to come up with a budget. You need to know how much you have to spend since this will guide your decisions about the company you hire and the app development process.

Start by determining how much your company can spend on the project. Think about your goals for creating the app, the development platform and programming language you plan to use, and any other necessary expenses involved in the project. This information will help you come up with a realistic budget.

[Read more: How to Create a Budget for Your Business]

Determine what kind of app you need

Next, you’ll determine the type of app you want to create:

  • Native: Native apps are designed specifically for one mobile operating system, like iOS or Android. Because they’re only built for one platform, you can’t use an iOS app on an Android phone or vice versa. Native apps tend to be faster and more reliable than other apps.
  • Web: Web apps aren’t standalone apps that you download; instead, they’re accessed through a web browser on your mobile device. Because they’re web-based, they’re less expensive to develop and have fewer maintenance costs.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid apps are web apps that look and perform like native apps. They are the easiest to develop but lack the speed and power of native apps. Hybrid apps are a good option for making a minimum viable product to test out your app idea.

Research multiple companies

You can find companies that may be a good fit by asking your network for referrals and searching online. Once you’ve compiled a list of companies, compare their portfolios and experience. Look for companies that have completed projects similar to yours, and consider downloading and testing out any apps they’ve created.

Start by determining how much your company can spend on the project.

It’s important to gauge that company’s reputation and understand the experience other businesses have had working with them. Ask any companies you’re considering if you can speak to some of the previous clients. At the very least, they should be able to provide testimonials and case studies you can read through.

Submit a request for proposal

Once you’ve researched and narrowed your list, it’s time to request proposals from two or three companies. A request for proposal (RFP) invites third-party vendors to submit a proposal for your project.

Once you receive responses, you can compare each company's proposed costs, timelines, and processes. If you have additional questions, you can contact that vendor for more information or to set up an additional meeting.

Narrow your selection to two or three companies you’re interested in hiring. From there, you can negotiate the price and select the company you want to work with.

If you’re on the fence, you may want to hire one or two companies to complete a small initial project. This will help you get a better sense of that company’s skills and whether you like working with the team.

[Read more: How to Negotiate Payment Terms with Vendors]

Outline the terms of the project

The final step is to put a contract in place outlining the terms of the agreement and the expectations for everyone involved. It should explain the purpose of the app, the project timeline, and any deliverables.

The contract will also include the payment terms and schedule, how both parties will handle disputes, and a termination clause. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer review the contract before signing anything.

Finding the right app development company can take time, and you shouldn’t try to rush the process. Look for a vendor you like working with that can create a high-quality app that will meet your customers' needs.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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