Is Your Idea Key to SaaS Success?

Posted in Uncategorized by jasonrmoore on April 3, 2009


You have probably already guessed that the answer, in my estimation, is no.

You may be able to garner some attention from friends, a few dollars from friends and family, and a decent amount of attention from local media outlets.  But your idea is worth zero without execution.

Below is, in my order of importance, the list of the key ingredients to you achieving success (you define what that is) with a SaaS company.

1. Sales – This is intentionally separated from marketing in this context.  Until you receive money via your product you are still only in possession of an idea.  Selling can be defined in many different ways, though, so it does not have to be a direct sale to a client.

Seth recently wrote about finding 10 people who want/need your product enough to take you up on your offer.  Once you have ten, find ten more.  If you’re lucky, the first ten will be finding ten more at the same time because your product delivers as promised (or more).

Some of you may feel that this is marketing. But that’s one of the main problems with a non-sales culture. People are extremely comfortable when they feel they are “marketing” but icky when it’s called “sales”.  If you have a product that is going to positively impact your potential clients, then you are doing them (and yourself) a grave disservice by not getting it into as many people’s hands who need it.  If you get uncomfortable about telling someone you know about your product, then your sub-conscious may be telling you that you are over-promising.

2. Relationships/Support – the misconstrued dream that many people entering the SaaS world have is that once you build the application and it works well, all your clients will understand it, adopt it easily, hand over their credit card, and never cancel.  Okay, maybe when it’s put like that you deny that you feel that way.  But you’re only lying to yourself.

If anything this group could have been lumped in with sales because as a SaaS model company, your relationships with your current clients is your on-going sales model. This does not have to be a time-intensive process if you implement the proper tools and controls, but it does take effort.

37signals are masters at this.  They have a recent post on exactly how important their customer’s experience is to them.

We had a recent post here about how the relationship goes well beyond your customer service rep.  It is also the responsibility of your billing people, marketing people, collections staff, everyone!

3. Operations, a.k.a. Bootstrapping – if you are going to survive, you better have the purse strings drawn tight on unnecessary expenditures. No matter how good your sales and relationship teams are, the person in charge of your outgoing expenses can cut the jugular at any second.  Once it’s cut; lights out.

NOTE: I am aware that there are a few companies out there like Facebook and Twitter that can bleed money for what appears to be forever. Go buy a lottery ticket instead.

4. Technology/Your Idea – this section does not include all technology involved throughout your company.  It’s impossible to separate any one department from the general term “technology.”  The idea here is that your idea, although the basis of the business being started, is not the most important piece to your future success.  Obviously, you need a viable concept and the development chops to build it (whether on your own or hired), but without the key pieces in place your application is just another piece of unused software… but delivered over the web.


Photo Credit: Kyle May