How To Start a SaaS Business
If you're a developer, the great news is starting a SaaS business doesn't really have a ton of hurdles you need to jump over.
Take it from my experience: you actually don't need to raise money or to find a co-founder or anything like that.
What you do need, however, is a proper plan with an order of operations. In this post, let's talk about what it is you need to get you on the right path!
You need to solve a real problem
What I see a lot of is that developers tend to get very excited about coding and building.
They fireup their terminal, clone a project, and get coding. Sometimes, they get way way way too lost in the details (TDD! Super nicely written code!) that they really put off marketing and growing their customer base.
Forget all that.
The one thing I learned is that your customers will never ask you about how nice your code is or how you structured your project. All they care about is if the thing you built actually helps them solve the problems they are having.
What you should instead focus a lot of your time on before coding is identifying a real problem that real people have and build for that. If you haven't already, make sure you read my article on How To Find SaaS Ideas where the central concept revolves around finding problems that people have.
You need a way to test your assumptions about the business
Next up, after you've identified a problem, you need to determine if it's a problem worth solving.
As much as possible, try building out the solution to the problem using minimal coding.
If, however, you do need to code up something, you should timebox your efforts.
For example, give yourself maximum 2 weeks of evenings and weekends to build something that will solve the core problem a customer is having. Nothing more than that.
Because it will force you to get it out the door as fast as possible. No perfect code, just something that you can test assumptions with.
It should be something that will answer questions like "do people actually want to use this thing?", "will people want to buy this solution?".
This is way more important that making sure you have perfect code.
You need to get your first customer
This is the fun stuff.
After you've built a solution, get it hosted somewhere and launch it. Make it accessible to the public.
Next, what you need to do is roll up your sleeves and figure out how you are going to get your first customer.
- Comment on forums plugging your product
- Do cold outreach to your potential market and setting up a call with them. After demo-ing the product, as them if they want to buy
- Comment where your customers hang out online
Here's a tip: be absolutely ruthless with doing this. It's at this stage when you'll learn if it's something viable or not.
Above all, don't hide behind coding anymore. Just get yourself and your product out there as much as possible. Move away from procrastinating by building more and more features. Your product will never be done or ready enough for the public, so you should focus on the acqusition of your first customer to find out if you should be spending any more time on this.
Congratulations on your next business!
Believe it or not, what you've created here is your SaaS business.
You have a product (whatever you've built), a marketing channel (your manual outreach), and of course your first customer, so customer support (you!)
It's from each of these pillars that you should figure out feedback loops to grow. Everything outlined above is really the first steps in your journey!