10th June 2021
What does bootstrapping mean to you?
An issue in your company workflow. Wasted time running repetitive tasks. An expensive solution to a recurring problem. These are all typical starting points for individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset looking to bring their innovative problem-solving skills to the marketplace.
Having found a problem to fix is half the battle – but how do you got about fixing it? You may have an inclination of what your end product might look like as a service, but delivering that service to paying customers in a practical way can be a significant hurdle to overcome.
Luckily we live in an age of unprecedented access to ever-improving technologies designed for just this purpose. SaaS, or Software As A Service, is one of the fastest growing industries in the developed world. It’s a broad definition that includes everything from Netflix to Google Docs, which reflects the boundless possibilities available to the SaaS start-up founder.
Despite its broad scope, some ideas work better for SaaS than others. Here, we’ve highlighted some key questions to ask yourself and determine whether a SaaS solution is the best way to get your fledgling idea off the ground and into the real world…
The barrier to entry in app development is a daunting one – especially if you’re not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to software development. In these early stages, it’s worth doing your research to try and better understand exactly what will be required of your business to launch a SaaS product. Here are some steps to take moving forwards:
– Make a rough outline of your resource budget, both in terms of your finances and time available. A lot of SaaS products are developed by individuals working on their project between jobs or on weekends as they get their idea validated.
– Work out your set-up costs and work backwards from there. Look into the cost of hosting a SaaS application, estimate how much development time you’d need to pay for and then think about what you’re left with to spend on marketing and exposure.
– Try and engage with your hypothetical target audience. Perhaps your idea already sprang from a conversation with a colleague or contractor airing their grievances; in which case, assess whether they already engage with existing SaaS products and if there’s scope for your idea to find a place in their app roster.
– Scour the market for comparable services. You may find that there are already competitors operating within your target industry or consumer group. This shouldn’t discourage you – it simply means that you’ll need to refine your concept to find a pressure point to exploit.
It’s quite possible that a SaaS solution doesn’t mesh well with your ambitions – traditional business models still hold their own after all, and SaaS is still a relatively new concept. That said, it’s also likely that at some point, your business will develop an online component; be it a digital storefront, user community or simply a landing page.
Developing software may not seem like a natural fit for you if you don’t have a tech background, and you may be put off by the investment needed to attract co-founders who could develop this side of your business. But one of the key advantages of SaaS platforms is that they are relatively cheap to run compared to say, renting a physical office or storefront.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a SaaS business is that you are only restricted by the availability of an internet connection – once you have your URL, you’re opened up to potential clients from all over the world. SaaS has democratised the start-up scene, lowering the barrier to entry for anyone looking to entre the market and make an idea work. It’s never been cheaper for entrepreneurs to upscale either, and in the new world of remote working, it’s easier than ever to find skilled collaborators to work with.
If your idea doesn’t at first lend itself to a SaaS-based distribution model, it’s worth thinking laterally about how a SaaS platform could form part of a successful business equation. Landing pages, companion apps, scheduling tools – all of these are examples of potential SaaS solutions you could be offering as part of your value proposition.
What should be clear by now is the sheer scope of SaaS as a distribution method, and if it’s application to your particular venture is immediately clear, it’s worth consulting with an experienced party who might just be able to point you in the right direction. As suggested above, it’s likely that at some point your business venture will incorporate some sort of SaaS functionality – so planning for it in the early stages could give you the edge needed to make a success of it.
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