How to Build a SaaS Business – Ultimate Web Resource Guide (Part 0)

Starting a SaaS business (software-as-a-service) is sexy nowadays. And rightly so, because it has never been easier to start a software business from literally nothing, over the internet, from your (parents’ ?) basement. And 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. I already saw myself relaxing on my future yacht, getting passive income, and living the 4-hour work week lifestyle. Tim Ferriss would be proud of me! But ok, now back to reality: to be honest, I already failed to do the upfront web-research 🙁

The moment I started to investigate the topic “SaaS” online, 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:

  • How do all these pieces of information fit together?
  • Where do I start?
  • Can I start a SaaS business on my own?
  • How do I find a profitable business idea?
  • What are the essential steps I have to follow?
  • How do I find my first clients?
  • 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 into that topic. Slowly but steadily, I started to see patterns, extracted top web resources and identified the basic steps on how to build a SaaS business. The result of my extensive research is a curated collection of the 200+ best web resources, structured in a clear 4-step-process.

But before presenting my findings, a quick caveat:

  • I never started a SaaS business (yet). This web resource guide is just my naive attempt to bring some clarity to that massive subject.
  • This guide focuses more on the starting phase of building a SaaS business. This is why the huge subtopic “Growth & Scaling“ is only touched upon.
  • The web resources mentioned in this guide are far away from being complete. There is just too much amazing information about this topic. So if you have a great web resource, please let me know, and I will try to add it to this 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 shows which roadblocks you have to overcome if you decide to build a Saas business.

In this blog post series, each of these 4 steps is presented in one single blog post, while every post contains all related subtopics and web resources.

It should also be mentioned, that every web resource is tagged the following way: “1, 2, 3“

  1. Information element: summarizes whether a web resource is a Forum post, Blog post, Podcast, Video, Tutorial, or Tool
  2. Target group: summarizes whether a web resource is Basic (basic entrepreneur advice) or SaaS (specific SaaS advice)
  3. Information type: summarizes whether a web resource is centered around Theory (i.e. methods, strategy, .. ) or Practice (i.e. examples, concrete tips, …)

Following this convention, a web resource tagged with “Podcast, SaaS, Practice“ describes this: This web resource is a podcast, which contains practical SaaS advice.

Before jumping to Step 1, “Success Mindset & Basic Decisions“, here’s an overview of all the subtopics which will be covered in this blog post series:

  • Post 0 (this post) – Introducing the Mission
  • Post 1 (Step 1 -“Success Mindset & Basic Decisions“)
    • Why should I Start a SaaS Business?
    • Fulltime Vs. Sideproject
    • Niche SaaS Vs. Big SaaS
    • Bootstrapping Vs. Funding
    • Business Fundamentals
  • Post 2 (Step 2 -“Find a Profitable SaaS Idea“)
    • Basics of Finding a Good Business Idea
    • Scratch 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 your SaaS Product
    • Pricing your SaaS Product
    • Finding and Building your Team
    • Systems & Automation
    • Analytics & Metrics
    • The Future of SaaS
    • Top-Ressource-Lists on the Web
    • Top Guides &  Success Stories