I have never met a CEO or anyone in a chief position that could and has told me with all honesty: “No, Serra, I do not have any regrets about my SaaS business.”
Because there is probably not one person out there who has founded a business and not gambled around with it a little. That’s business after all.
But all these people I have met with all their regrets, mistakes, and risks they have taken are the very same people that are still in chief positions today. And they keep making the same mistakes somehow.
Don’t take it from me but take it from them; it’s in the nature of the game.
And if you are in the process of starting your very own SaaS company, there is a big chance that you will repeat their mistakes. My job here today is to make sure you know some of the most common SaaS mistakes you can make and that you take the least damage from them.
So, let’s talk about the most common and possibly the biggest mistakes in SaaS.
Top 10 Common SaaS Mistakes to Look Out For
1- Not Doing Enough Market Research
The very first mistake you have to avoid might occur even before launch, that is, not doing enough market research.
This is a problem both pre- and post-launch. It is always problematic to launch into a market where the solution you supply has no demand – or where the demand is being supplied by another.
Such market research would give you enough data for the fundamentals of your product and pricing. So it is important to make sure your product will have a place in the market pre-launch.
And when it is post-launch we are talking about, things might get even more complicated. It is rule number one to always be aware of what your competitors are up to. Even when you are on track and growing post-launch, it is best you stay alert.
2- Poor Company Vision
Setting a company vision that will match your business model and plans for the future is just as important as doing your research. Plus, it is always great to go back to your starting vision when you’re on a downward trend as a company.
A company vision could be your goal with the product or service you put out there, what you want to change in the market or even the world, or even putting a smile on customers’ faces if you’re a romantic at heart.
What matters is that you and your employees have something to work hard for and return to when deciding what to do next.
3- Overlooking UX principles
Especially when your product is a tool/platform/software, getting involved with user experience is inevitable. And when you are designing your product or even your website, remembering the needs and desires of a user or web visitor can get you ahead of the game.
That’s because, with perfect UIs and UX out there that we face every day, it is hard to please the users. A poorly designed UX can be a breaking point.
And let’s not forget the customer experience either.
A potential customer’s nerves can be pretty delicate. Even when you have no platform or software and just a website, half of your users will leave your website if it takes more than 6 seconds to load.
4- Lack of User Onboarding
Talking about UX and CX, it’s worth mentioning that without proper user and customer onboarding experience, businesses easily die out.
When a user starts interacting with your product, you have only a tiny time span to prove that you are not a waste of time and can actually offer value. And this is best done using a capable onboarding solution.
One Tool to Guide Them All: UserGuiding
It is a common mistake to overlook user and customer onboarding altogether. But it’s not common enough for businesses to acknowledge it.
The truth is, your marketing team, your sales representatives, or a basic knowledge base cannot replace a good user/customer onboarding experience that takes place in-app interactively and in real-time, auto-triggered, or on demand.
Plus, there is no need for you or any of your teams to put in such an effort. Not when there is a no-code tool to do it for you.
UserGuiding is a no-code user onboarding solution that is designed to guide your customer base and target audience through your product or website to achieve complete product and feature adoption.
Among its core features are:
- Product tours and interactive guides,
- Onboarding checklists, hotspots, tooltips,
- NPS surveys,
- Resource centers,
- Powerful analytics,
- User segmentation and targeting, and more advanced features.
5- Misinforming Website – Or Worse, Hidden Pricing Options
When any business is on the market in 2022, there is a hidden prerequisite for success: Online presence.
This presence can come about with a good content marketing strategy, using an effective channel like LinkedIn to follow a product marketing strategy, promoting a freemium version on different outlets or simply taking good care of your website.
And when I say taking good care of your website, I mean it. Types of content that promote what you do and help you rank higher on Google, clear and accurate information on your main page, and most importantly: transparent pricing.
The most repulsive thing for a prospective customer to see on your website is hidden pricing and yet pricing mistakes are more common than ever.
Take it from me, especially when you are an obscure company, hidden pricing is like saying “we just don’t want you to do business with us.”
So for the love of SaaS, let the pricing options be known from the get-go.
6- Poor Customer Service
Yet another very common mistake that can take place during the sales process or after years of use is not enough credit or attention to customer service.
If the picture isn’t already crystal clear, let me say it one more time: potential customers and users can get frustrated so very easily.
No matter what your product, business model, or user pricing is, any user deserves good customer service.
And the best part is, that you don’t actually need to hire an entire fleet of customer support reps for this. There are other great options too. For example, self-help channels like knowledge bases are the best support you can give an audience of enterprise customers.
Even when your customer base is small and your budget limited, an FAQ page and an email address on your website for support are good enough.
When it comes to customer service, being open and sincere is the best anyone can do, even a newly launched startup.
7- No Customer Success Strategy
What is not quite alright though, is not having or not working towards an established customer success strategy.
A good customer success team is what oversees the customer acquisition and retention rates and well as churn. If you don’t have the right people and strategies to ensure that acquisition and retention are going up and churn rates are kept to a minimum, you cannot predict exactly when you will go bankrupt – not if, when.
8- No Plans – or Too Many Plans
Now, it is good to have a viable strategy for every department of your company, as I just said above.
But having the right amount of strategies and setting their priorities properly is just as important. If each one of your teams comes up with a plan and strategies that are in no way realistic and if they expect a budget for each, that’s what I call a problem.
What you want to do is prompt your teams to streamline it all, prioritize certain tasks and goals, and set a time span in which they want to realize them.
You can always use project management tools to let them see the bigger picture easily.
9- Hiring the Wrong People
Planning problems, budget limitations, and the worst of it all, churn.
These are all solvable problems. Unless you’ve hired the wrong people.
Especially when it’s a startup we’re talking about, it is hard to find the people that are passionate enough about what they do and are invested in bringing your company to success. But it isn’t impossible.
An even more serious problem is hiring the wrong number of people. You can find yourself hiring way too many people for one department while another is practically empty, and this might not be the worst for many business models, but it is always a good idea to be aware of what you are doing and who you are hiring.
10 – Not Establishing a Good Company Culture
Lastly, and in my opinion, most importantly, one of the biggest mistakes commonly made in SaaS is not creating a good company culture or straight up creating a bad work environment.
The truth is, no one wants to work in a place where they aren’t appreciated. And where they find appreciation, they tend to do things with more care, become better for the sake of work, and add more value to your business.
If these conditions are met, all the other mistakes on the list can be easily avoided. So start with a good company culture. You won’t regret it.
To Wrap Up…
No BS, for real: starting out in SaaS is tough biz.
There are many risks you might have to take, and this is all just the tip of the iceberg. But once you’ve gotten rid of these possible mistakes before they occur, so do you get rid of the chance to encounter even more complicated ones.
My SaaS advice to you is to look out for problems and resolve them early on. But don’t panic if you can. No one made history without a couple of mistakes 😎