Reading through the success stories of millionaires from a variety of businesses, we almost always come across one sentence:
If you want to succeed, you need to follow your dreams.
As much as it sounds like a cliché by now, it has brought enormous accomplishments to many individuals.
But, what’s most interesting about these stories is how rarely they mention their beginnings and ways to get started. And truth be told, the road can get quite rocky.
Before you even enter the market, there are so many factors to consider: from creating a lean business plan, targeting the perfect audience, all the way to competing with well-established companies that have their funds intact.
The main challenge here is to stand out from the crowd.
What many businesspeople will tell you is that your main goal should be to get your product in front of as many people as possible. As exciting as it sounds, a rushed marketing campaign may not be successful.
Even if you have an excellent team, a creative solution to your target users’ problems, and investors on your side, a pressured campaign can sink your business.
If you want to start a SaaS business, you should first outline your demands. If you’re not sure what you’ll need to launch and want to see what other entrepreneurs in this industry do, you’ve arrived at the right place.
But before we get into the real talk, let’s define first what SaaS platforms really are.
What Exactly Is a SaaS Platform?
A SaaS (software as a service) platform is a software that is accessible through an internet browser or a web-based app. Therefore, you can come across synonyms such as “hosted solution,” “web-based solution,” or even “cloud-based” solution.
In contrast to desktop-based applications and software that are installed directly on a computer, SaaS products don’t require any additional installations as they are run on their own servers. This may sound easier, but many people fall into the trap of starting a SaaS product on their own.
Starting a SaaS Business on Your Own – Yes or No?
It is still possible to run a successful software as a service business if you have an idea but lack the technical expertise to build the app yourself. In fact, successful businessmen emphasize the importance of constant learning and self-upgrading.
As you start to understand the overall process, you will become more able to perceive potential roadblocks on your journey, address them properly, and even make the best possible hires for your company in the future.
But with so many popular BPO companies, it seems almost excessive to code the apps yourself. Of course, coding isn’t impossible to learn, but it takes time. And your time can be spent much more efficiently, which will make your SaaS product even better and more attractive to the market.
And by now, you’re probably wondering what those things are, right? Without further ado, let’s get you covered!
10 Things to Do Before Launching a Software as a Service Platform
Create a solution to a problem
Before diving into branding, hiring, and pricing, the first thing to do is to find a problem to address, as well as a solution to it. In fact, if your service is not solving anyone’s problem, is it really necessary?
There are two proven ways you can perceive the market’s problems.
Stick to a relatable problem
Solving your own problems can get you far more ahead than solving other people’s problems. The only way you can imagine a perfect solution to something is by experiencing the problem yourself.
And what’s better than successfully solving your own problem and then helping everyone else with the same struggle?
Create a solution that is better than anyone else’s
This one is a no-brainer; with an ocean of different SaaS services, you want to develop the best problem solver on the market.
Can you do it better than the others? Are you able to present the quickest fix? Is your solution cheaper than half the market?
If you said yes to any of these three, you’re off to a good start!
Test and validate your idea before realizing it
You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on software only to find out that it’s only used by you and your best friend.
Although we are prone to falling so much in love with our ideas and don’t want to give them up for anything else, it is important to stay realistic and get feedback from the market.
Keep in mind that an idea is just that—an assumption of what people need. If it’s going to cost a lot and give you nothing in return, you need to know that as soon as possible and at the lowest possible cost so you can adjust or move on to a new product.
In order to discover that, both early and ongoing tests are crucial. Developing great software is an evolving procedure: you create something, get market feedback, and adjust accordingly. Then test again to see if positive changes have been made.
Develop a well-structured plan
As in any other industry, planning is the most important step, and unfortunately, it cannot be skipped. SaaS is not a get-rich-quick gimmick; rather, it is a long-term business strategy that, when done effectively, may offer you a consistent source of revenue.
But before you dive into creating a 50-page masterplan, start simply with a one-pager.
It’s the quickest way to get your idea down on paper, and it’s the first step in the lean planning process, which is much simpler and more adaptive than traditional planning methods.
Moreover, it is better suited for SaaS companies that are constantly testing new ideas.
Regardless of the method, you want to cover:
- Bring your unique value propositions to the front. A one or two-liner can be just enough.
- An explanation of the issue you’re fixing for your consumers as well as your solution, which is often your product or service.
- An overview of your target market or the various market segments you want to target.
- Your competitors, as well as a short explanation of how you stand out from them.
The business model
While having a sales estimate and spending budget early on is important, you don’t need them until you’ve verified your concept.
At this point, just identify your anticipated core income sources and critical costs. You should return later to establish a thorough sales estimate, cash flow projection, and spending budget.
Basically, what you need is as much detail as possible on how your company will earn money in this market section.
List your sales channels and explain how you want to sell your items in the tactics section. Include a list of marketing initiatives that will bring people to your door.
List your essential partners and resources, followed by your core staff and their duties. And if you don’t yet have a team, make a list of the positions you need to fill.
Your action plan will contain a task or milestone schedule. These will be transformed into dates, responsibilities, and budgets so that everything can be transparent and foreseeable.
Given the dynamic nature of business planning, you will most likely return to your action plan and add additional steps as you progress.
Precise your target market
Your product will not be desired or required by everyone. You must concentrate on the people who will profit the most from it. Determine their requirements and pain areas before designing your software. Knowing your target market through and through can also assist you in determining the ideal marketing technique for reaching them.
Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, PPC, Twitter, content marketing, YouTube… These are all wonderful ways to advertise a company, but you don’t have to utilize them all.
Be mindful of jumping headfirst down the marketing rabbit hole. You may emerge feeling that you must do fifty different things to build your brand.
If you’ve done your market research effectively, you already know who your clients are and where you can find them. Your objective is to identify and perfect one or two ways that provide the maximum ROI for your advertising budget. Continue to invest in and expand that marketing approach until it has reached its full potential.
Think outside the box and conduct an effective team
You’ll need to build a SaaS company that can carry out your vision. This entails identifying and employing skilled employees with the necessary skill sets. It also consists of creating a successful team dynamic and ensuring that everyone is on the same page with your company’s objectives.
Look for people with a diverse set of skills and competences, those that are able to wear many hats at once.
Consider ‘t-shaped’ hires: those with profound talents in one area but a broad understanding and interest in others. This implies that even if your company’s direction changes, they will still be able to contribute value.
Investigate pricing models and first-time consumer acquisition
Subscription-based pricing is common in SaaS products. So, instead of paying once for a lifetime of usage, your consumer pays on a monthly or yearly basis. Consider it like a software license.
You must be willing to adjust your price to accommodate what your clients are prepared to spend. And, in a crowded business, you’ll probably need to be okay with delivering your services for significantly less, even if they’re superior, when you first start out.
During the validation phase, you should be thinking about and testing your pricing model. There are many different methods to get users in the door to test the waters, ranging from free trials to freemium services with upgrade choices.
Build a brand
If you want to stand out in a competitive business or just be a noteworthy business, learning how to brand and distinguish yourself is essential.
Customers must be able to easily connect with you and quickly understand who you are. If they can’t, they’ll probably go on to someone else.
Here is some noteworthy advice to follow:
- Create a unique name that stands out.
- Develop a recognizable design that will be present throughout all your communication channels.
- Build a brand guide: determine your tone and ways of presentation.
- Clarify your vision so anyone can understand it.
- Find a catchy domain name that is easy to remember.
Create a blog
After you’ve built your marketing website, add a blog to it.
Blogging is a wonderful technique for your SaaS company to obtain awareness and a reputation in the industry. It may be used to share your views and ideas with a larger audience, even people who are not part of your social network.
Consider the issues that your target clientele is experiencing and provide solutions in your content.
Establish success metrics
Whether or not you like numbers, if you own a company, you’ll have to get used to analyzing them.
Metric monitoring might be intimidating, uninteresting, or time-consuming for many people. But the fact is that these numbers will become your greatest pals. They will assist you in making educated judgments, which will relieve you of much of the burden of guessing.
Tracking your main indicators can also assist you in determining how to develop and if it is a good time to do so.
It is critical to understand what these indicators may tell you about your company in order to monitor its health.
Keep track of how these indicators are functioning on a regular basis so you can make smarter judgments and prepare ahead of time.
The advantages of monitoring your metrics are:
- Increasing your current performance level
- Enhancing future performance
- Detecting issues before they become problems
- Receiving genuine feedback on your objectives and milestones
- Making more confident choices
Understand the competition
If you want to build something really game-changing and innovative, you must first grasp the business environment.
Ask your present or future clients and target consumers what alternatives they have tried or explored, as well as what they enjoy and find valuable in your rivals’ offerings.
It doesn’t mean their product is any better or that they will be more successful in the long term just because they have more money, but you should be aware of them and be able to predict their actions and answers.
Moreover, connecting to your users creates brand awareness and brings them closer to you, as their experiences and thoughts become more relevant.
Bonus Tip: Take Your Time
While the startup process for a SaaS business may be simplified, each component will need time, testing, and refining. You may even see constant overlap between tasks that need you to finish particular items in a different sequence.
Funding, for example, may not be something your startup seeks until years after it has started, and drafting your business plan will be a continuous process you review throughout the life of your company.
If you just remember one thing from this guide, it should be that getting your product out there is the most critical thing for a SaaS platform.
With more relevant metrics to measure your progress, your business will survive and continue to compete.
Great solutions advertise themselves, but we must first invest the time and effort required to create a compelling value proposition that outperforms the competition.
Selling software is difficult, but it is considerably more difficult when you are first starting out. There are several factors to consider before taking the leap.
However, with a thorough awareness of your target market’s requirements, desires, and pain points, as well as timely and relevant research and a solid business strategy, you will be able to create a successful marketing campaign that will transform your ideas into profit.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for House and Courtyard.