As many as 310 adults out of 100,000 start new businesses every month. While that percentage may seem small, incremental at best, it is an important and welcomed sign of business activity. The fact remains that unemployment, wage growth, and productivity are driven by new entrepreneurial activities.
If you’re a new SaaS startup, and you’re thinking of ways in which to manage your business for success, here are a few sobering reminders of why business startups fail.
- Problems in the Market. Value proposition, as you know, is critical. It has to be compelling enough to inspire buyers to make a purchase. Buyers typically need to be in a phase where they’re experiencing extreme pain. It’s also critical that your product be ready to solve a problem or a need. Buyers must be ready for your solution or your amazing product or service might as well not exist.
- Business Model Failures. One of the most common reasons for a startup failure is that many entrepreneurs are misguided about how easy it will be to bring new customers through the front door. Optimism is good, in fact, it’s great! However, after the first surge of customers dies off, reality sets in and it becomes apparent that it’s going to be expensive to get customers to beat a path to their front door. This is also the moment that many SaaS providers realize that the cost of acquiring a new customer will be greater than the lifetime value of that customer.
- Poor Team Management. Weak teams will usually make mistakes in the following areas. They are quite often weak on creating and implementing a strategy. The failure is usually in not having done enough work and research to validate business ideas before and during the developmental stages. This lack of focus can carry through when trying to implement go-to-market strategies. Poor execution is also a challenge which results in product-building delays. Weak teams will hire weak players beneath them. An “A” player will work for “A” leader. However, “B” players will usually end up hiring “C” players, because “B” players won’t work for “B” leaders. The results can be obvious, but are usually unavoidable due to human nature.
- Problems with the Product. Does the product adequately meet the market need? While product execution can be a real problem, the problem can be far more strategic—like the wrong “product/market fit.” There are times when a startup’s first product may not meet the market’s needs. When this happens, it may take several revisions to get it right. A worse-case scenario is when a completely new re-think is needed. A re-think is an indication that ideas were not validated before, during, or after the product or service was developed.
The reality is that success can be a virtual toss-up. However, there are SaaS tools that every SaaS startup and entrepreneur can use to increase their odds of success. We’ve put together a list of tools that we think are relevant. As an entrepreneur, the decision for which tools to use is entirely up to you. The reality is that today’s startups have an advantage over those that formed just a decade ago. By taking advantage of SaaS services and tools, entrepreneurs (including SaaS entrepreneurs) can do a lot of things much smarter and more effectively than competitors who rely on the old, outdated ways of doing things.
- MailChimp – An email list should be built from the very start. This program is comprehensive and allows marketers to customize their email and manage email campaigns. It integrates well with other applications for even greater benefits. Report revenue, A/B testing, integrate with Google Analytics, and social integration.
- Google Apps for Business - Provides a slew of Google tools for business collaborations and features cloud-based storage, easy sharing, and easy access. There is less training because the tools are familiar.
- Xero - This can help make a difference for those who aren’t in the financial field. Like many, you may not look forward to having to deal with accounting. This makes things as painless as possible. Features include automatic reconciliation of bank accounts, invoicing, optional add-ons like managing inventories and CRM. Cash flow is reported in real time as well.
- Optimizely – Testing will be a major factor in helping determine specific metrics, like conversions, clicks and the number of visits. Features include testing for mobile websites, visitor segmentation, and multi-page funnel testing.
- Enloop – It is impossible to succeed in any business endeavor without a business plan. This software makes it easier to create a complete business plan for competitive analysis, projecting revenues and everything needed to impress potential investors. Features allow for the ability to compare industry ratios, automate forecasting and projections, and generate charts and graphs.
- Prezi – Getting your ideas across to others matters. This is perfect for creating visual presentations and conveying ideas, concepts and plans that will encourage collaboration. Features include working offline or in the cloud, mobile apps for iOS devices, built-in design capabilities and PowerPoint importing.
- Piktochart – Infographics are a powerful way to convey messages. Features include an intuitive dashboard, built in graphics, and social sharing capabilities. This provides a great way to keep your customers informed at a glance.
- Agile Payments – No business can survive or even get off the ground without accepting credit cards. Your SaaS of course is no different. For applications that offer recurring billing an ACH [echeck option] is crucial Not only does it offer your customers the ability to save 90% or more on transaction fees as well as open up another payment option the ACH option offers the SAAS provider a way to differentiate your product.
- TriNet Marketplace – Managing human resources is a huge challenge for many startups. Now you can manage everything from capital planning to payroll and even benefits. Features include solutions that are industry specific, compliance with worker’s compensation laws, and talent acquisition features. The mobile app allows for easy access and data reporting.
- LegalZoom – When creating your entity, this is an easy and cost-effective application that offers every relevant legal document, copyrights, operating agreements and more.
- Dashlane - From your own experience, you know how hard it is to manage a maze of passwords. Your startup will use dozens. Dashlane allows you to keep track of all password and login information in one app that’s securely stored. Easy access when you need them. Features include password strength scores, secure encryption, identification of duplicate passwords, and more.
- Asana – Managing and assigning tasks will be one of the biggest challenges startups can face. Asana allows you to streamline and collaborate tasks. Keep track of projects and post and access relevant conversations. Features include the ability to create priorities, due dates, send notifications, and organize ideas, discussions and more.
- HootSuite – No doubt, this software is one of the most popular platforms for managing social media footprints. The interface is intuitive-column based that allows for scheduling appointments, mentions, adding news feeds, and more. Users enjoy its quick navigation.
- Gimp - Sooner or later, you’ll need to manipulate drawings and graphics in easier ways than packages like Photoshop allow for. Features include raster editor, the ability to support all common graphic file formats. It has all the drawing, font and shape capabilities that you could ever need.
- Jira – Organizing teams, customers and tasks is a major part of running a business. Streamlined, collaborative applications is the key to success. Features include more than 1000 add-ons, custom workflows that are built-in, the ability to manage customer support requests, and much more.
- Skype – An office wall shouldn’t be a barrier to any startup. With Skype, face-to-face meetings can be held with anyone around the globe. You can also make free calls regardless of your location. Send notes, files, and photos within seconds. Features include voice messaging, instant messaging, video files, photos, and social media integration. Video calls include up to 25 people.
Creating the Right SaaS Sales Strategy
Ask any owner of a startup and they’ll likely tell you that their launch day felt like the end of everything. The reality is that launch day is only the beginning. It’s when things are supposed to start working in your favor.
Selling has always made people nervous, even those who do it for a living. The truth is that founders and inventors go into business because they enjoy creating useful products and services. Few go into business to actually sell them. If you can avoid selling, and can concentrate on making your customer successful, that will indeed be a burden removed from your shoulders.
If you have a great product, with a strong team behind you, your product may actually sell itself. Any product that makes its user successful, has the potential of selling itself.
It’s All About the Onboarding Experience
In a nutshell, the onboarding experience is the overall process of helping your new customers (those who’ve just signed on) to succeed with your product or service. Depending on your product, the steps a customer must complete before being “onboarded” is critical. Will they have to set up an email address, invite other users, go through a trial period, or have they gained a complete understanding of how your product can benefit them? Without completing all aspects of an onboarding process, your customers are not likely to be successful with your product.
Offer Free Guides
It’s not a bad idea to offer guides and e-books that continue to explain your business in full. It’s your job to educate your customers so that no stone is left unturned. Making your users smarter and better-informed is a sure pathway to success.
Offer a Video Library
An example of a company that utilizes customer training methods (better than anyone else) is Salesforce.com. They continually host training seminars and conferences around the world that help provide training and build their community around knowledge of their products. They also make free videos and post them online. It’s all about making the user more knowledgeable and successfully.
Finding and using the correct SaaS tools, along with a well planned sales strategy, can increase an SaaS startup's odds of success.
Offer Free Training Webinars
We know these things can be a bit time consuming to put together, but can you really afford not to? A training webinar should be designed to help customers get the most from their software. Investing in the tool that you decide to use will be well worth the effort.
Write a Killer Blog
Not only will a blog inform, but it can help establish you as an expert in your field. Blogging is a free and simple way to educate people and drive new traffic to your website. And of course, more traffic means more business. Your blog can also help convert traffic into leads. Just think of every blog that you write as another way to get indexed and create new readership and leads. The main thing to keep in mind is that your need to write consistently. If you don’t have the time, hire a blogger who knows your business and can write in an authoritative manner.
Consult with the Experts
Our goal when we put this post together was to help you find your stride in developing leads and increasing business for your SaaS. If you think we missed a tool that we should have included please let us know by posting it below in the comment section. If that tool happens to be one that you're offering yourself that is better yet. Just make sure to include a link to your offer on your comment so people can find it.