Launching a SaaS startup? Do you have a solid plan? If not, chances are, your SaaS startup will run into a bottleneck soon. SaaS, short for “Software as a Service”, became a reality back in 1996 when researchers were finally able to develop cloud computing after decades of work.
Today, a staggering number of organizations are using software to provide some sort of service to their customers and according to a recent survey, 73% of respondents said that at least 80% of their applications will be SaaS by 2020.
You can get some idea about the crazy growth SaaS industry is seeing right now by taking a look at the revenue they are bringing in. In 2017, SaaS products brought in revenue of around $58.8 billion. By 2021, those figures are expected to almost double to $113.1 billion.
Launching a SaaS Startup – 13 Tips for SaaS Growth in 2019
Needless to say, more and more people are waking up to the potential of SaaS products and many are trying their hand at it. Nowadays, it’s pretty common to see someone working at night or even quitting their job to build their own SaaS product.
But, building a SaaS product is no easy task. And, what’s even more difficult is selling your product to the consumers. So, if you don’t want to spend your life’s savings on building a SaaS startup only to have it crash and burn, here’s what you will need to do.
1. Follow the Lean Planning Process
The thing about the traditional way of making business plans is that they are just too time-consuming. Why should a company that hasn’t even launched a single product yet spend months building an extremely-detailed business plan that most people won’t even bother reading anyway?
This is where the lean planning process comes in. This model replaces the detailed and time-consuming business plan with a hardly 1-2 pages long business outline that requires less than an hour to make can be easily updated and expanded as your business progresses.
A lean business plan covers four important areas; strategy, tactics, schedule and revenue generation. Strategy covers the main things you are trying to achieve with your business and your SaaS product. Tactics will cover how you are going to achieve the goals that you’ve set in the strategy section.
A schedule will help you set deadlines for each milestone hence keep your SaaS startup progress in check. And, lastly, revenue generation covers how you will be making money through the service that you’ll be providing to the consumers.
There are four things that you will cover in this section of your lean plan:
- A very brief description of your business. Talk about what makes it special and unique.
- Talk in detail about the problem being faced by the consumers, the solution (usually the SaaS product) that your business will provide and how it will solve the problem.
- Pinpoint at least 15-20 places where you might find the people who might be interested in paying for your product.
- The competition that your product has and how your product will stand out.
Instead of using long paras to cover each point, use short and extremely specific bullet points; this kills ambiguity and lets everyone know what to focus on.
When it comes to finding your target audience you need to have plenty of options and you need to be highly specific regarding where you’ll find these people. Saying your SaaS product is for teens or the developer community is not going to be good enough.
You will have to pinpoint the exact forums, websites, pages, groups, etc. where you are sure to find at least some potential customers. And, to ensure your product can attract lots of people, you’ll need to find at least 15-20 places where you can find your target audience.
Finding your competition
When it comes to finding your competition you will need to be extremely thorough. No matter how new you think your business idea might be, in this day and age, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there’s someone already out there with almost the same product idea as yours.
So, be very thorough when finding who your competition is and once you have a list, learn as much as you can about their product and services. Test their product, read reviews, watch customer review videos and then, try to make a list of the things that they’re doing right and the ones that they’re doing wrong.
This will give you ideas on how to strengthen your weak points and avoid the mistakes that they are making. It’ll also help you realize what your competition is lacking and then you can use that to make your SaaS startup stand out.
3. Be Tactical
This section will cover how you will make your business strategy a successful one. In this section, you will need to cover your sales strategy, marketing strategy, any key partners or employees that your business is going to need and, any key resources that you must avail before you can get started.
Of course, the sales and marketing strategies will require detailed planning and specific tasks/goals that the company will then try to achieve. What marketing and sales should be most concerned with is how to approach potential customers.
You’ll have to talk to consumers as a friend, not as a salesman. And, that requires a personal one-on-one talk whether it’s through email, phone or face-to-face.
When it comes to funding, you’ll have two options; get investors or, use your own funds. Both options have their pros and cons but investing your own funds does give you complete freedom and it also means that all the earnings that your SaaS startup brings in go to you.
For businesses, schedules are extremely important. Without them, even the best ideas can falter and fail. You can only get started with making the schedule once you have fully committed to the business plan, have all the key employees and resources at your disposal and don’t have to worry about the funding.
In short, the schedule comes in when you officially start executing your plan. Needless to say, you’ll have to stick to your schedule because it has the power to make or break your business.
Interested in finding out more about other SaaS companies and getting general tips on how to thrive in the SaaS market? Find out the best SaaS blogs.
5. SaaS Startup Revenue Generation
No business can survive for long if it can’t make money. In revenue generation, you will have to come up with a strategy through which you will make money. You will need to realize the most effective point where you ask your SaaS startup’s customers to pay and of course, you’ll need to make the payment system as efficient, transparent and as safe as possible.
6. Building the Product
When building their SaaS application, a lot of companies make a grave mistake; they focus too much on coding. They’ll spend huge sums on getting some extraordinary developer and then they’ll spend months testing and adding unnecessary features to their app. Not only does this greatly raise your costs, but it also fails to have any significant impact on your revenue too.
The one thing that you need to realize about the code is that almost no one cares what the code is doing behind the curtains. And yes, a great app does have lots of features but that doesn’t mean you should try to add all of them in the first version. Go slow, see what the people want the most and then add that.
For a new SaaS startup, the only thing the code should focus on is releasing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Do anything more and you’ll end up raising costs and spending too much time in app development.
Other Interesting Reads: Minimum Viable Product development
7. Design Matters
Users may not care about the code running in the background but they do care about the design of the app. A bad design can be so off-putting that it can make long-time users quit the app whereas a great design has the ability to attract scores of new customers and increase the time existing users spend on the app.
Design is something that only developers and programmers could handle but nowadays, there are so many tools and software that allow you to design and test your app without ever having to write a line of code.
All you’ll need to focus on when designing the app is to make sure that the design is in line with modern trends. Old designs, however beautiful they might be, can leave your app looking old and outdated.
These days, the design is all about clean interface, ease of usage, minimalist design and a consistent color theme. Of course, you can take lots of design inspiration from online sources and you might even want to steal some really special design elements from some software you know about. Always remember, good artists copy but great artists steal. There’s no shame in taking inspiration.
When looking for design inspiration, you might want to stay away from your competitor apps because if your app ends up looking like one of your competitor’s app, your target audience will notice.
8. Keep Onboarding Fast & Simple
The thing users hate most when trying out a new app is when it takes way too long to install or when the registration process is a long and complex one. So, when building your app, you should focus on making the installation and registration as simple and fast as possible.
Also, you should make your app users commit to the app by making them sign up in order to use the service. Once a user has an account, they are much more likely to continue using it.
9. Test Your Product Before Release
Hence, before releasing your product, you should put it through a very thorough testing process and once it passes that, you should only release it in the beta phase. Invite only those people to use the app who genuinely need something like it and will give you their honest opinion. Use their opinions and advice to fix any issues.
Moreover, you should also add a feedback mechanism in your app so that anyone can freely and easily send their feedback to you.
10. Service Charges is an Extremely Important Aspect
Expensive apps, especially if they’re new, can find it hard to attract new customers. This is the reason why we see so many SaaS companies offer their app completely free of charge in the initial stages.
A lot of well-established SaaS companies also provide their app on a 30-day trial period after which the customer has to pay in order to keep using the app. Both of these methods are great at attracting new customers and keeping them hooked to your app.
Also, you should try to provide your product at competitive prices if you want it to stand out. Especially if your product is new in the market.
11. Be Friends with Social Media & Email Marketing
With more than 3 billion people using social media regularly, it won’t be hard for you to find potential customers on big social networking websites. At least initially, your focus should only be on three social media sites; facebook, twitter and Instagram. It’ll keep your marketing focused and hit the biggest pool of potential customers.
With email marketing, you’ll need to add a personal touch. Otherwise, people won’t even bother reading your email; some might even set your email address as “spam” or “junk”. Talk to your customers as if they’re your friend and suggest your product instead of shoving it down their throat. You won’t believe how effective that method is at attracting new customers.
12. Leverage Data Analytics
Once your product is ready, you’ll need to integrate a good analytics app into it. With this app, you will be able to keep track of things like how many people are using the app, what features they are using the most, what pages they are visiting the most, etc.
Most analytics apps can also use the data they collect to make lots of reports which the user can then view whenever they want. An analytics app gives you a bird’s-eye view through which you can look at the bigger picture and if you want, you can take a deep dive into all little facts and figures as well. This allows you to keep track of what’s working and what isn’t and hence, course-correct as you go along.
13. How’s Your Utility Belt?
As you’ve seen, launching a SaaS app and keeping it growing can be hard work. When you have a SaaS app of your own a lot of the times you feel like you’re stuck in a web of problems or that you have no time for yourself.
If it was easy, everyone would do it. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get as much help as possible. To make things easier, you can employ a number of useful apps to handle the essential and painstaking stuff for you. Here are our top SaaS apps for 2019:
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