How to Start a SaaS Business in 11 StepsBy Femto15 Team - November 29, 2019
We are in the SaaS era! There is no doubt about that.
If you are a developer, marketer, project manager, or an enthusiastic entrepreneur who wants a share of the cake, this article will help you understand the stations you should go through while developing your SaaS.
To make it clear, we won't tell you to have an idea, go after it, and then become a millionaire. We won't tell you to keep thinking of success, and you will become Steve Jobs.
Instead, we state that it will be a rough route, and if you aren't willing to go the distance, then let it go from now and save your money and time.
11 steps and tips to start your SaaS
Reading this article means you've been searching for the topic. But you need to gain more knowledge than an article that only states the headlines.
Whichever is your main background, you need to have deep knowledge of other fields that guides and empowers your future business. As an entrepreneur, you sail your ship alone. So, make sure you're powered with enough knowledge to lead your organization towards success.
But what should you learn?
A SaaS project is like any other project. Thus, having project management knowledge is essential for you. Managing your resources wisely for the best results is your role as an entrepreneur, leader, manager, or whatever you call yourself.
The cornerstone to your business. You can't success your SaaS if you aren't a marketer. If you don't know how to reach your target customers and do target them, then you got to learn. You will be the marketer of your SaaS even before developing it.
If you can't convince your customers with your SaaS, you won't launch rather than survive in the market.
You need to gain enough knowledge required to manage your budget.
If you haven't been in the field for a while, give it a try before leading your own business. Working inside SaaS organizations will give you an idea about how things work there.
We know that you got your SaaS idea in mind before acquiring the mentioned knowledge. But we just asked you to save it till you're ready to work on it.
Any idea should be defined as a solution that solves a certain problem that target customers have. So, in short, you have:
- Problem definition
What you solve.
- Idea description
How you solve it.
- Target customers definition
Who has the problem and can use your solution.
After you got your SaaS idea, you need to understand the market at which your idea will grow up. You need to understand your customers and competitors. Which means you're going to conduct both primary and secondary research.
Here are the main blocks of market research!
Who are your customers?
Define your customers' personas. Customer persona includes things like age, gender, location, etc. Things that help you understand your customers' needs, pain points, thoughts, and even jocks. Find the places they gather into, whether they are online or offline. Find their blogs, forums, organizations, etc.
In short, define your customers to the extent of being able to understand why would they need your product and why would they pay for it. Remember that, if you don't know your customers, you don't know your business.
Reach your customers
After defining your customers, you need to interact with them directly to hear from them and test your assumed personas. You can do so through market surveys, interviews, social media, or any communication media.
Know your competitors
Conduct a competitive analysis to figure out how your competitors solve your target customers' problem and define their strengths and weaknesses.
Find your uniqueness
While scanning your competitors and asking your potential customers, you must know what distinguishes your solution and drives customers to choose you over them. Do you solve the problem differently, easier, faster, or cheaper than your competitors?
In short, what's your special value that your competitors don't have?
Planning is a significant phase of project management. But writing a traditional business plan can be overwhelmed if it stops you from validating your SaaS in the marketplace and finding your real opportunities.
Thus, you need a faster way to plan your SaaS. Maybe a 21-minute business plan is a better solution.
While planning, you're going to redefine your intended customers, potential competitors, and your uniqueness along with other planning elements, such as your SaaS pricing strategy.
The first step on the ground isn't developing a piece of your software. Instead, it's about testing whether or not the market will accept your product when you launch the first version of it.
Turning ideas into business isn't easy. You have to be ready to modify, change, or even give up your ideas when needed.
In this step, you check out whether or not your idea will work. You need to reach your customers and talk to them to answer the questions that guide the upcoming steps.
- Do they have the problem you've defined?
- Is your solution suitable to solve that problem?
- Are they willing to pay for your solution?
- Are there other solutions provided to that problem?
Use Agile project management
For managing SaaS projects, it's recommended to go for the Agile project management approach which suites the process of building software projects more than traditional approaches. It also fits the nature of SaaS developing which changes rapidly while developing.
User experience for customer satisfaction
For your SaaS, UX design is essential to keep your customers use your product. Create a user experience that leads to customer satisfaction, facilities using your service, and delivers your value in the best way.
A poor experience may drive your customers away. Imagine how much revenue you would miss if your service isn't mobile-friendly or if users can't figure out how to perform the main functions.
Create a minimum viable product (MVP)
SaaS industry isn't like building homes!
Rather we are in the build-measure-learn software world. Thus, your app's design, features, and even pricing change rapidly while running the business. That needs an iterative process of developing your SaaS, a process that starts with customers to customers.
Using the data collected from your market research and validation phase, you should have prioritized your features and decided the most important ones that should be in your MVP.
Will you be shocked if we say you can/should (according to your case) create your landing pages before/while developing your service?
Marketing is something you do before, during, and after launching. It's something you do forever. Here are some of the main things you're going to do:
- Create landing pages for your most important features that will be in your first MVP. Sign-ups are signs that you are on the right track.
- Use digital marketing channels wisely. Find out the platforms your customers prefer and master it. Don't be distracted by the flood of digital platforms; instead, focus on one or two and master them.
- Nurture your first loyal customers and let them be your partners in success by offering them special treatment. Word of mouth marketing is the strongest marketing strategy any startup may have.
Get feedback after each iteration
After launching each version of your SaaS or adding new features, you need to go back to the market and find out how customers deal with it. Get feedback, go back to your plan, design, and idea. Change things according to the info you gained and keep performing the loop.
Let your data drive your decisions
"Data is the new oil"
Data now drives most of the industries. You can't determine the success of your business or predict it without data analyzing. Data-driven decision making ensures that you are heading towards your business goals.
Answering "How to" questions differs from person to person, organization to organization, and country to country. Thus, the actual steps you take should be according to your circumstances and experience.
The best advice that always works is that learning and practicing are the engines of your motor. So, keep enriching your knowledge and acquiring as much experience as you can.