Getting started in SaaS: What to focus on now and what can wait.
If you’re getting started in SaaS, it can feel like there is so much to do, so many decisions to make, and that if you get a single thing wrong or miss one little detail, your entire business will fail. And while you must be incredibly thorough and thoughtful when starting a SaaS company, that is not the same as gathering all the necessary information before making a decision or taking action.
Here’s some advice from someone who has been there:
Before you do anything else, you need to know why you want to start a SaaS business in this particular market.
Now, that might sound like a weird thing to say. You're probably already aware of your reasons for wanting to launch a SaaS company—after all, if you're reading this article and not just skimming through it for the first eight paragraphs or so (which is also fine), then clearly something about the idea has piqued your interest enough for you to at least consider taking action.
That said: Your reasons should be more than just “because I'm bored and could use some excitement in my life” or “I have an idea and think it could make me rich someday." Those aren't bad reasons per se—they'll certainly get things going! But there's more depth required if we're going to make sure everything goes according to plan (or even better than expected).
Talk to your potential customers.
The first thing you'll want to do is talk to your customers.
You need to know what they're looking for, and whether or not there's even a market for your product.
For example, when we started Spring Studio we knew that our target market was small businesses in the tech industry. But we also knew that if their employees were happy and engaged with their work, those companies would be more productive and make more money—we wanted everyone who worked with us to feel that way! So we talked with everyone from CEOs of large companies all the way down through individual contributors at startups.
The first step in becoming a successful SaaS founder is to focus on the things you are good at and can do well. If you have experience in one functional area, such as marketing or sales, then it makes sense to invest your time there.
Others may be better at building software from scratch or managing many different people across different departments. Or perhaps work with a company like ours to get an MVP built. The point here is that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses so don’t try and force yourself into doing something if it doesn't come naturally!
The second step is figuring out what tasks can be automated, outsourced or delegated, which means finding ways of reducing how much time is spent on these activities so they can be done by someone else without compromising quality too much (if at all). Automation tools like Zapier help make this process easier by taking care of any routine tasks such as sending out emails when new leads come through so that they don't get lost among other day-to-day emails sent out while being able to scale up quickly without needing additional IT resources which could cost thousands per month depending on how big your company grows over time.
Talk to people outside your industry and company.
You should engage in conversations with people outside your industry, company and team. You might not have time to do this now, but it will help you in the long run.
You're going to make assumptions about what works and what doesn't in your business that is probably wrong because they're based on your personal experience. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or feedback from others who have been through similar situations as well as those who haven't but can provide a fresh perspective on things you've been doing for years.
Learn from founders who have done it before.
The best way to learn about SaaS is to ask for help and advice from someone who already knows the ropes. Here are some ways you can get started with this:
- Ask for a mentor—someone who has been there before, so they know what you're going through and can help guide your journey. They may also have connections that help get your product in front of people who could use it or lend advice on how things work at large companies.
- Ask friends—If they don't know much about SaaS startups, try finding someone who does! Your friends might be investors or even people who have worked in tech before (or both).
- Ask fellow founders—They'll be able to share their experiences about starting and growing their businesses, which will help keep you motivated when times get tough.
Listen to feedback. Welcome criticism.
You will get feedback. Lots of it. People want to help you, and they're excited about your product. But there's also a lot of criticism out there, which can be hard for any entrepreneur to ignore. You need to listen carefully and filter out useful feedback from bad (and often misguided) advice.
There is no gathering all the information you will need before making a decision or taking action.
As you’re reading this now, you may be thinking “I can’t possibly do everything right! I don’t know what I need to do. I don’t even know what my end goal is. This seems overwhelming and scary! How can I just take action without knowing everything? Isn't that risky? Am I going to fail?”
This is normal. It's perfectly fine if you feel overwhelmed by all the information out there—there's a lot of it! But don't let fear stop you from taking action because there are things that will help:
- You can read books or attend workshops on SaaS topics but there are also many online communities where people share their experiences and advice with others who want to start businesses. These communities give people a chance to learn from each other so they can take action more quickly than if they had waited for all the information before them (which probably would never come).
- You will learn more from taking action than from reading books or talking with others about SaaS concepts because those things won't tell us exactly how things work in our business until we try them ourselves--and unfortunately, there isn't any way around this part! If someone tells me something doesn't work then maybe it means something else did work better; only time will tell which one worked best overall--so why not test out both options right away?
In the last section, I mentioned that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and you will. You can’t always predict or prevent them, so get comfortable with the idea now. And hey—that’s okay! The best thing you can do for yourself is to be flexible and ready to change course when needed. We’re all navigating an unprecedented growth in technology and new ideas—there isn’t a roadmap out there that will tell you exactly what to do next. But I hope that some of these tips have helped give you a general sense of direction and give you some confidence as you take your first steps into this exciting world.