Many myths have arisen around creating startups and building SaaS products. Nowadays, having your own startup is often thought of as fashionably sophisticated. Yet, there are as many opinions on this as there are SaaS founders. While getting ready for the SaaStr conference, we checked out the most popular misconceptions regarding the process of creating SaaS products.
When taking the first steps in coming up with innovative products, many startup founders actually learn on the go which hinders their connection with the market. Some time ago, we published some tips on how to create a great SaaS product, brought to you by proven experts: CEOs and entrepreneurs. Now we want to deal with most common misconceptions regarding both building the product as well as selling it.
If you truly believe that the process of creating a SaaS product is easy, you could not be more wrong if you tried. No matter what personal qualifications you have, you will always lack some skills and character traits that will be required somewhere along the way. If you are a professional developer, you will need to face some sales and marketing challenges. If you are a business development person, you will still need somebody to write the code for your product. Combining all the relevant skills together, looking closely at the timing, designing a marketing plan, reaching the market and taking care of your clients is definitely not a walk in the park, especially when it comes to growing your business.
The biggest misconception is that it's easy. Hardly ever is the initial "product idea" the one that delights the market. More technical teams have a tendency to overcomplicate the product and spend too little time on customer feedback. This leads to writing unnecessary code. - Marcin Szeląg, Innovation Nest
Solution: Before the project kicks off, carefully determine its core values and stick to them at the beginning. If you feel like you could use a hand in this, here’s an infographic and a blog post to help you out.
Let’s enumerate the potential costs that you will have to cover at the very beginning of the whole process: you need to prepare product architecture, pay developers and designers, research the market, come up with promotional materials and spend money on marketing campaigns. The idea of your product will inevitably evolve along with its code, which means constant changes and more work that you will end up having to pay for. While you’re at it, don’t forget to put a figure on the cost of the time you will devote to this endeavour.
Solution: Remember that your product will evolve which means that it doesn’t need all the features right at the very beginning. Try to estimate the possible costs of launching a MVP and develop this when it starts to make profits or you secure a spot of funding.
Creating software is only the beginning of the journey towards making a great SaaS product. Preparing a MVP is a starting point for the race to attract clients, make software iterations, collect referrals and provide top customer service. In the meantime, you will have to devote time to marketing activities, recruitment meetings, community events and interviews with potential investors.
The launch of your SaaS app is not the finishing line. It is only a beginning of a life-long triathlon. - Piotr Kulesza, RTA.vc
Solution: Focus on you ability to ship fast and consider hiring proven SaaS developers. Be realistic and don’t only estimate the time that needs to be devoted to developing software. Other activities connected with marketing, sales and recruitment are of equal importance, which means you should never underestimate them by consigning them to the category of “I’ll do them in the meantime”.
No, you don’t; your clients do. Of course you’re the author of the core idea and you’re responsible for its development, but at the end of the day you’re not your client. Every bit of functionality you decide to add to your product should be based on the suggestions of your customers rather than on your own whims.
Solution: Become your own customer and use your product on a daily basis — be your own harshest, least forgiving critic. At the same time, show people what they stand to gain from using your product — this may encourage them to give it a shot, too. Never underestimate a good user onboarding process.
The truth is, your product will never be perfect because “perfection” is purely subjective. Some people might call it perfect, while others will merely find it useful and others will think it sucks big time. You just have to face the reality that your product will trigger a lot of different opinions and that’s totally normal.
The product must be good enough and delivered fast, then, when you have traction, you can focus on details. - Paweł Kucharski, Sotrender
Solution: Again, specify the must-have features that are absolutely obligatory for your MVP. When you build it and put it on the market, you can hire either internal or external developers and fine tune the details.
Not really. Of course, recommendations can be very powerful but to get the ball rolling you need to reach the market first. This means doing a lot of research, preparing loads of curated content, spending time on spreading the word, asking for opinions, tweaking the product, providing top-notch customer service and maintaining your employees’ motivation. Good product is like a good actor, there are thousands of good actors and actresses in the world, but only a tiny minority of them are truly famous - those who play in blockbusters with a load of money spent on promotion.
Solution: Don’t care exclusively about your product. Think about all the things around it as well.
Yes, it is. Creating a startup means launching a business and then running it no matter if you have 5 or 150 people on board and 1 or 10 products. The problems are the same; the only thing that changes is the scale.
Solution: Be proud of yourself and stay motivated! You're running a company!
Do you know any other myths about creating SaaS products? If so, please share them with us in the comments below!