Built A SaaS Startup? Make Sure It Lasts!
When you build a SaaS startup – or any start up for that matter – usually, you have a vision for it in your mind. You have everything planned in your mind, right from – how you will fund it, how you will recruit or hire your people, how you will provide your product or service, how you will deliver the customer experience etc.
Well, most startup owners have already planned all these, and some have not. Some are just enthusiastic and excited about their new plan, and they take the things as they come. Though both the scenarios can work, depending upon the capability and ability of the business idea and the person behind it – some missteps in any area of your business can prove costly.
Nowadays, almost every software has moved – or is moving to a SaaS or at least a hosted model. But this was certainly not the case, when it all started some 25 years back. Those companies which had software-as-a-service (SaaS), they actually had to explain all their basics to their prospects. However, now, almost every customer is familiar with SaaS and cloud based computing – and it is generally comfortable for them to deal with all the issues of performance and security.
While it has now become much easier for startups to sell, there are some principles that are needed to be considered to make a venture that actually lasts for a long time:
Differentiate Between Needs & Wants
Wants will always outgrow needs – and same is the case with the customers too. They will always tell you what they ‘want’ and that will always be different from their needs. So, it’s your task to figure out what really is, that they need. All your product roadmap of your business should never be based on what users tell you – there is also a need to use your own understanding on what are the market trends currently. A huge value lies in making your instinct-driven decisions, instead of being stuck in an analysis pothole. This plays an important role because – in SaaS, it is possible to integrate and fix almost every aspect of your business if you are quick enough.
Tactics Over Strategies
It is always better to use tactics, yes – but don’t ignore the strategies too. Strategies help in going towards the direction in which you want to go. Implementing strategies into your tactics can give better results. Try taking incremental steps – those which might not be wholly based on data. Think about any previous interactions with the customer – it can pave a better way to predict their behaviour, instead of depending on any data to know about them. There is one common mistake among many owners – looking at the data which already has some preconceived thoughts of the result, and then manipulating it to support that. You should know that it’s important to rely on instincts, analyse the data, and act with intuition.
Instincts Never Lie
It is believed by many successful owners that in the beginning, there will be a need to start marketing your products, even before you actually have them – by keeping your focus on the feedback by early investors or prospective customers. Sometimes there is a need to go the other way around – building the product, which would be completely based on own instincts, and then begin marketing it immediately. It gives them, their first set of users even before they have started gathering the feedback, which can be used for improving the product experience. Those initial users might help them to get right product that fit the market requirements. This entire process will also prepare them to market their products to other potential users.
Fund It On Your Own
Entrepreneurs should try self-funding first, and have enough cash to get their business a potential to run a long way – and simultaneously while retaining the full ownership of their business. External funding should be relied upon only when there comes a point where such cash is required for the rapid growth. This also allows them to spend their 100% of time getting their business going – without having to worry about their initial workload about their investors or getting into some bad deals just to get some cash flowing in their accounts.
Watch It Grow, With Persistence
Once you have laid down the ground work and done what you thought would be best for your business to grow, it’s time to actually watch it grow – and for that you need to be persistent enough. You have to get prepared to give your company at least two years of time to get any results. Just to get the product right, it might take you a year – and another year to get all the material revenues. You would even have to deal with the tantrums of the beliefs of the early and perhaps low or non-paying or customers. In a SaaS based business, it usually takes a long time, until then as it gets hard to get recurring revenues going for long.
A business, when it starts, it usually takes a lot of confusion and chaos in the initial days – but it all really depends on the capability and the ability of owners, how they deal with all the transformation and changes the business goes through in its initial days.