7 Tips for Developing Your SaaS Startup

If you’re working on a Software as a Service startup, you’re in an exciting and dynamic industry. In the first half of 2017, SaaS revenue grew by 23% from the previous year, and represented about 70% of the growing cloud market. Software on the cloud is becoming the norm, and there has never been a better time to get in on this trend.

Software as a Service example
Image created by Ijeab - Freepik.com

Just because the market is booming, however, doesn’t guarantee success. Your SaaS company needs the foundation of a great product, of course, but you also need the business and marketing savvy to show people how great your product is—and compel them to subscribe. Here are 7 tips for developing your SaaS startup so you can enjoy your share of the market.

1. Make your software pretty and functional

Your first focus should be to create an incredible product. At this point, chances are very good that the software you’re making has similar functions to other SaaS products. So how can you differentiate from your competitors? Look for the gaps and fill them. Make your software more visually appealing, mobile-friendly, and intuitive than your competitors’. Your software isn’t going to be perfect right away, but you should invest in making it as beautiful and functional as possible from the very beginning. Creating a great product is still relatively affordable — one founder built his product from the ground up for around $40,000.

2. Consider how and if you want to use social media

Social media has been an important digital marketing and fundraising tactic for the last decade. While it does have many benefits for brand awareness and driving new customer acquisition, there are some major drawbacks to using it for promotion and fundraising. The biggest challenge is the potential of a vocal few who are unhappy with your service swaying the opinion of potential customers. A large percentage of people are influenced by what they read on social media, both good and bad. In fact, 70% of wealthy investors have changed how they invest based on information from social media. These platforms can be powerful tools, but you need to consider the pros and cons for your business.

3. Outsource when necessary

Even if you’re a solopreneur, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself. Sure, when you’re developing your SaaS startup, you’ll need to wear many hats, but you shouldn’t try to wear ALL of them. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Are you great at writing compelling copy, but can’t design to save your life? Find a designer to work with whose work you love. Any weakness you have can be outsourced for a better product. It’s well worth the investment.

4. Don’t give up — try again

It’s tempting to just give up when the going gets tough. Hard times are almost inevitable as an entrepreneur, however, and it doesn’t mean your SaaS company is doomed. Many businesses have stagnated in the past, only to recover when leadership took initiative to innovate and change practices. One example of this is Marvel, which pulled itself out of bankruptcy to be purchased by Disney and become a leading player in Hollywood entertainment. Marvel went from owing $250 million to grossing $10,916,958,583 worldwide. Now that’s a comeback to inspire startups everywhere.

5. Start monetizing quickly

Don’t think you have to offer your service for free while you build up a user base. As Tom Kulzer, founder of Aweber says:

“…nothing proves the viability and value of a business more than someone pulling out a credit card to pay for it.”

Your SaaS may do well as long as it’s free, but how will you gauge its potential for profitability if you put off charging for it. Aside from proving market viability, of course, monetizing quickly will allow you to reinvest in your business and grow more quickly.

6. Focus on customer support

No software is bug-free right after release. Acknowledge the fact that you’re going to have a few bumps along the way—and then do everything you can to make those bumps less uncomfortable for your customers. Providing stellar customer support is more important than almost anything else, because it’s how you respond when things go wrong that builds trust and loyalty for your company. It also helps you work out the kinks of your product.

7. Use the latest technologies to collect data and intelligence on your market

Before you can market your product successfully and make necessary changes, you need to understand where you stand. Using the latest automation tools to collect this intelligence data will cut down the time you spend on research considerably. In one survey, 65% of participants believed their organization would begin automating this process by the end of the decade. Why? So you can focus on what’s important: delivering a great product and providing stellar customer service.

Tags: saas, startup