Small-business owners often mistakenly believe that mobile-business apps are only worthwhile for large corporations or certain industries. They often believe such apps are too expensive or too industry specific for their needs and assume a general website will suffice. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost any business, regardless of industry or size, can profit from a mobile app. In fact, with powerful mobile-business apps in today's marketplace, some businesses might not be able to survive without one.

Here are four reasons why investing in a mobile business site might be the best thing you can do for your company.

1. Engage with your customers. Mobile apps give businesses the opportunity to interact with customers in real time with valuable information on location and other demographics through user profiles. Effective business apps produce an engaged customer, which usually translates into a paying customer.

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For instance, the Wells Fargo mobile app allows users to photograph a check to deposit funds into their accounts, which saves the time and effort of having to find a bank or ATM. Should they need an ATM, though, the app can inform users of the nearest machines based on their location. Customers can also connect with customer-service reps with one click through the app.

2. Promote your products and services. Marketing research has shown that customers perceive companies that offer mobile apps more positively than those that don't. An app can make your business stand out, which will help you build relationships with customers. Aside from promoting your brand, an app can also help you feature products and services to drive sales. For instance, if you own a clothing store and have an app that provides user location information, you could send a time-sensitive coupon for an item to customers near the store to give them an incentive to walk in.

3. Maximize ROI. You may have concerns about whether you can afford a mobile-business app, but you probably can't afford not to invest in one.

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For example, app-analytics company Distimo reports that the average expense per device of building an app is less than one percent of a business' revenue. While the cost of developing an app may still seem daunting, it pales in comparison to the brand enhancement and additional sales that it could generate.

4. Expand your customer base. You may already have a traditional site but trends are increasingly moving toward mobile search and browsing. Indeed, a 2014 Ericsson Mobility Report indicates that mobile subscriptions will hit 9.3 billion in 2019 and 5.6 billion of those will be smartphones. You can see how companies that don't offer mobile apps and responsive design sites appealing to the mobile medium could quickly become obsolete in such a market. What's more, mobile apps, especially those integrated with social media, can reach a younger demographic that might otherwise never encounter your business.

If you remain ambivalent about whether a mobile business app is worth the cost, the good news is you can start small to test the waters before you make any major investments. Consider the first design of your mobile app a prototype of sorts -- including only the features that will add the most value. If the pilot version of your app performs well in your market segment, you can begin to add more features and device types in later incarnations.

A mobile app is at least worth a try for your business, especially considering it's relatively inexpensive to test. If an app doesn't work, a responsive design website might be a better fit. Either option will allow you to engage more with customers, build your customer base, and drive sales.

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