You have your idea and you’ve asked around and everyone says it’s a slam dunk. You’re excited. It’s time to pursue your entrepreneurial dream and start your own company.
You have a name and domain and it’s time get started, but where do you begin? It’s all so overwhelming and you want to have your SaaS up by the end of the year. We were in a similar position launching our most recent product Crow Tracker and hopefully you can learn from some of our mistakes.
We’re a software company based on Miami Beach who own and operate half a dozen SaaS products with just over 15,000 users. We also offer custom client work but SaaS is our passion and focus. We have launched some successes and some failures but the same basic steps hold true regardless of the service.
Does Anybody Want This
Some of our failed attempts in the past had been ideas that we thought would garner substantial interest. We launched to realize we were wrong. We learned the hard way that you can convince yourself of anything if you want to. Ask real people, not just your friends, about your idea. You want to hear the brutal truth even if it’s ugly. Get out there and make sure your target demographic wants your service. Now is the time to vet your idea before you quit your job, invest your life saving and devote months of development time.
Are There Enough Customers
Now that you know people are interested in your product. Now it’s time to think about how many people this could be. One of our early SaaS products suffered from this exact problem. Unfortunately, we concentrated on a micro-niche product. The total potential customer base was under 4,000 people. Assuming we were able to get 10% of the customer base (which is large) we are talking 400 people (which is not large). Learn from our mistake and make sure your target customer base is large enough to meet your goals.
Forget About the Competitors
Don’t be concerned about competition. We spent a lot of time watching the competitor and what they were doing with each launch. If your market is large enough, it won’t matter. You only need a small percentage of users to make a nice niche for your product. The fact that there are other companies in the space shows the need for your service. Make your product quicker, easier, or less expensive and you have enough differentiation to carve out a market.
Be Embarrassed Of Your First Release
Understand that your first release is going to limp out of the gates and probably be substantially less than what you envisioned. You have to strip out the bells and whistles to get something done. There are millions of dead products that are only 70% done. Don’t be one of those. Strip out features and define a minimum viable product. Then go through it again and take something else out. It takes twice as much time and twice as much debugging to get something out as you plan.
Don’t Underestimate the Nonsense
Building your product is quite a task in the first place. Now your product is done, working and ready to launch right? Wrong. How do people sign up? How do they pay? How are you processing credit cards and recurring billing? What emails do they get when they sign up? Where are people going to learn about you? Do you have a sales site built with information about the product? All of this takes far more time than you anticipate. Get started on this early and in your down time. If you are managing a team of programmers, then work on what you can. Who is writing the content for the site or designing it? Start sooner than later, it always takes longer than you think.
Time to Spread the Word
Despite what you think, your product most likely won’t sell itself. You need to spread the word. You have your demographic defined and you need to go after them: emails, SEO, advertising, blogging, tweeting, etc. If nobody knows you exist you certainly aren’t going to sell them your service. It’s time to build your army of evangelists, one user at a time.
Remember It Should Be Fun
Lastly, you need to make sure you are having fun. Our latest product needed quite a bit of work to get off the groud, but, most importantly, it was fun. It pushed our team to learn more and we now have a new product we are proud of. Don’t lose site, amongst all the mess, that you should be enjoying yourself.