How To Start A SaaS Business From Scratch (SaaS Guide Part 0)
Starting a SaaS business (software-as-a-service) is sexy nowadays. But with good reason, since it has never been easier to start a software business from literally nothing, over the internet, from your (parents’ ) basement.
The benefits are plenty: Recurring revenue, a huge market for software & automation (why software is eating the world), a mature cloud infrastructure around Amazon Web Services, Heroku & Co, and a helpful internet community full of SaaS-entrepreneurs all around the world.
Me, being a software developer, the idea of starting a (small) SaaS business was (and still is) very tempting. Building a first software prototype would be pretty easy. And all that other stuff around marketing & sales couldn’t be that hard either.
To be quite honest, I already saw myself relaxing on my yacht, earning passive income, just living the 4-hour workweek lifestyle. Tim Ferriss would be proud of me!
But as soon as I started to investigate the topic „Start SaaS Business” online, I was pulled back into reality. I found myself in a wild mix of videos, podcasts, products, tools, blogs, and forum posts (yes, I’m talking to you Quora!).
And not only that, every web resource addressed a different subtopic for a different group of people – validation techniques for newbies, marketing tricks for growth-hackers, SaaS metrics for seasoned entrepreneurs, you name it …
So many questions popped into my head:
- Where to start?
- How do I find a profitable business idea?
- How do all of these small bits of information fit together?
- What are the essential steps I absolutely need to follow?
- How do I find my first clients quickly?
- Which parts can be outsourced along the way?
I felt overwhelmed, and I hated that feeling.
This is why I decided to bring some order into that chaos. For weeks and months, I immersed myself in that topic. Slowly but steadily, I found the top web resources, started to see patterns, and identified the basic steps on how to build a SaaS business.
My Research Results
The result of my extensive research is a curated collection of the 200+ best SaaS web resources, structured in a clear 4-step-process.
But before presenting my findings, a quick caveat:
- I have never started a SaaS business (yet). This web resource guide is just a naive attempt to bring some clarity to that massive subject.
- This guide focuses on the starting phase of a SaaS business, while the huge topic “Growth & Scaling“ is only touched upon. But I am assuming you don’t need my help anyway once you reach that state …
- The web resources of this guide are far away from being complete. There is just too much amazing information about this topic. So in case you know a great web resource, please let me know, and I will try to add it to this guide.
The Structure Of This Web Guide
From a high-level perspective, the process of building a SaaS business consists of 4 basic steps (see figure below). Every single step contains several subtopics.
Of course, this is a highly simplified point of view, but it serves as a starting point for your own individual journey. It will show you the roadblocks you have to overcome once you set out on your SaaS journey.
Each of these 4 steps will be presented in a separate blog post, while every post contains all its related subtopics and web resources.
It should also be mentioned that every web resource is tagged with „Information Element, Target Group, Information Type“
- Information element: Forum post, Blog post, Podcast, Video, Tutorial, or Tool
- Target group: Basic (basic entrepreneur advice) or SaaS (specific SaaS advice)
- Information type: Theory (i.e. methods, strategy, .. ) or Practice (i.e. examples, concrete tips, …)
Following this convention, a web resource tagged with „Podcast, SaaS, Practice“ means: This web resource is a podcast, which contains practical SaaS advice.
If you feel ready, please jump to step 1 of this web guide.
Finally, here’s an overview which summarizes the subtopics of this blog post series:
- Introducing the mission
- Why You Should Start a SaaS Business
- Fulltime Vs. Sideproject
- Niche SaaS Vs. Big SaaS
- Bootstrapping Vs. Funding
- Business Fundamentals
- Basics of Finding a Good Business Idea
- Scratching your Own Itch
- The Market-Driven Approach
- Other Great Ways to Find SaaS Ideas
- Checklists for Good SaaS Ideas
Post 3 (Step 3 – „Validate & Build a SaaS Product“)
- Lean Startup & Customer Development
- Techniques for Validating your SaaS Idea
- Achieving Product-Market Fit
- Practical Guides: Validating & Building a SaaS-Product quickly
- Building your Initial Product (MVP)
- Build your Product without Technical Skills
Post 4 (Step 4 – „Growth & Scaling“)
- Growing your SaaS Business
- Building your Marketing-Machine
- Customer Success
- Selling & Pricing your SaaS Product
- Finding and Building Your Team
- Systems & Automation
- Analytics & Metrics
- The Future of SaaS
- Top-Ressource-Lists, Guides & Success Stories on the Web