3 Ways tp Increase the Odds of Success in Your New SaaS Startup

So you have an idea for a software product and you’re thinking of starting a company to build it. I talk to hundreds of these folks a year, year after year.

Here are 3 things that can help you increase your odds of success when you get started.

  1.  Don’t quit your day job yet.

    I know you are convinced that it will be big and you really want to work on your thing full-time right now, but it’s just an idea so far. It may be a great idea, but you won’t know if customers will actually pay you to solve it for a while.Your first idea probably won’t cut it, too, so you’ll need a bunch of tries and other ideas. I can’t tell you how many tries or how long, but it will take a lot longer than you think to get customers to pay you for something. Double that time period (years) before that business can pay you too.

    Find a way to sustain yourself for a long time. Outside funding almost never appears until later too, if ever.

  2.  It probably won’t work, but there’s a chance.

    Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can’t do it. And don’t believe anyone who tells you it definitely will work. You don’t know and I don’t know yet until you try it and see.There are really, really bad odds of success at this idea stage, even for smart, hardworking, and savvy people. That scares most people but it is inspiring to others who say, “So not a lot of people will be competing with me when I finally figure it out?” Yep. Starting something up is an abnormal game.

  3. Before you build anything or spend any money on business stuff, talk to 50 or 100 similar people who tell you they have a clear problem they will pay you to solve.
  •  Don’t start building something, unless you just want to practice or prototype.
  •  Don’t spend money on offices, logos, or fancy websites.
  •  Don’t try fundraising or talking to potential investors.

Even then, you’re taking some of that on faith and founders can delude themselves. I still like to talk to potential customers in a candid two-way conversation. Digital signals can offer clues but not the same insights.

Very often the best proof is solving their problem manually with paid services before you solve the problem with a software product. That’s both validation AND early funding.

I talk to hundreds of these potential entrepreneurs every year.

Their odds go down when I hear them talk more about funding, startup life, tech events, and quitting their jobs.

Their odds go up when I hear them talk about actual people and problems, about proving their way with small tests they can do themselves, and not quitting their day jobs.

Be stubborn about solving a big problem for somebody you know and gritting it out for a long time.

Be flexible about what exactly the answers will be and how you will solve them.

Attach yourself to the problem and say “I don’t know” about everything else. Until you know–with happy customers who pay you.


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