6 SaaS Founders Weigh in on Their 16 Biggest Mistakes

“We’ve compiled a big list of mistakes that SaaS founders and entrepreneurs have admitted to making in the hopes that you can learn from these mistakes to make your own journey easier.”

 

Written by Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 9th, 2019 | Updated Sept 9th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a feisty SaaS marketing agency

 

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SaaS Founders Talk About Their Biggest Mistakes and How They Would Do Things Differently If They Had to Start Again. 

This month the team at WhalePages spent a lot of time chatting with SaaS founders about the ins and outs of running a SaaS company. If you’re interested in reading the many interviews we’ve published earlier this month, you can do so by heading over to our SaaS marketing blog.

We’ve published some great content lately like this piece about how to onboard your first paying subscribers, this article about the best SaaS marketing strategies, and this article about how long it takes to scale to $2000 MRR

However, in today’s post we have a special treat for you. We’ve compiled a big list of mistakes that SaaS founders and entrepreneurs have admitted to making, and we share these mistakes with you in the hopes that you’ll be able to save yourself from making the same errors.

Below we ask six SaaS founders, all at different stages of growth, what they would do differently if they had to start all over again.

Let’s jump in and learn from their answers. 

1. First, we interviewed Peter Coppinger, the CEO and co-founder of teamwork, which is a collaboration SaaS company that’s on track to hit 31 million in ARR this year. Peter had the following to say about how he would do things differently if he had to start over:

1. Hire a person in marketing earlier. We focused a lot on product which was valuable but neglected pro-active marketing.

2. Start the referral program earlier. As I mentioned earlier, this has been a big success for us, looking back if we had started this a bit earlier it could have helped us grow a bit faster.

3. We may have been able to move faster with access to funding. Bootstrapping our business to now is something we’ve always been proud of but looking back, if we had considered funding a bit sooner we could do things faster.

2. WhalePages also had the opportunity to Interview Sonya Siderova, the founder of Nave, to talk about her SaaS growth journey so far. When we asked her what three things she would do differently she got right to the point by saying: 

4. Partners.

5. Partners

6. And partners.

I’d start negotiating with potential partners right from the very start. I believe we’d have achieved much more in less time if we had our distribution channels set up earlier.

3. Next, we had the opporunity to Interview Karsten Madsen, the CEO of morningscore to talk about morningscore’s impressive growth. In the interview Karsten speaks in detail about how he took his SaaS company from ZERO to $10,000 in MRR. When we asked him about the things he would do differently, he responded by saying: 

7. Launch BETA when the product is actually useful to not kill the hype.

8. Understand that it takes minimum 3 years to get proper revenue in a SAAS company and budget accordingly.

9. Be more critical towards paid channels. Growth hacking is a big thing for a reason.

4. In our next Interview we had the opportunity to talk with Claude Schneider, the founder of SmarterQueue about how he grew his SaaS company to $40,000 MRR. Claude offered our audience some incredibly insightful advice about how he would go about doing things differently if he had to start over: 

10.  Start building out a team earlier

11.  Put more focus on hiring SaaS experts with product, UX, and growth experience.

12.  Make my role redundant, so I can spend more time being a outward-facing CEO, rather than an inward-facing product owner

5. Next, we had an opportunity to Interview the team from Fanout to talk about Fanout’s approach to growth. They offered the following helpful insights on how to best stay on track: 

13. First, we should have focused on our strengths early on. Probably our biggest mistake was not doing this. We started out with a somewhat confusing dual offering, because we were distracted by competitors. We started with a unique product, but since it was a new concept, users were having trouble understanding it. So we quickly developed a variant that behaved more like our competitors’ products. Initially the plan worked, in the sense that we had an easier time getting traction on the me-too version. But, over time we struggled to stay competitive and our users churned too easily. Eventually we figured out ways to improve the usability of our original product and we got back to our roots, with customers that stick with us and grow.

14. Having better usability out the gate would have been good, too. Our product was very hard to use in the beginning, no doubt leading to many missed opportunities. Of course, even to this day we are still working on usability.

15. Finally, we could have been smarter with time and money. In general we are frugal and get a lot done with very little, but there were some things that ended up being a waste of time. One that comes to mind is an integration we did with a proprietary SaaS database that ended up shutting down.

Hopefully these are good lessons learned for other companies just starting out!

6. Lastly, we Interviewed the team at MindGenius to talk about their SaaS company journey so far. They had this to say about the strategies they would use if they had to start over: 

16. Focus marketing activity on SEO and content and ignore all the paid adwords option.

17. Put much more effort into day 1 of onboarding during the trial period and constantly review the impact of changes.

18. Learn to be more patient. It takes a long time to get momentum and launch a product – very few are overnight successes so keep the belief that it just takes time.

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We hope you have learnt something from the mistakes of SaaS founders that have come before you. If you’d like to learn more about growing your SaaS company, we suggest you head over to our homepage where you can learn more about our SaaS scaling strategies. 

 

Written by Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 9th, 2019 | Updated Sept 9th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a company that grows SaaS websites. So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then our SaaS growth boxes are probably for you.

 

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