Two Questions to Ask Yourself When You Have a New SaaS Business Idea

Startups Dec 06, 2019

Starting a business is hard. Especially when you’re doing it on your own.

When you have an idea that you really believe in and you start making it happen, you might find that something strange happens: At first, people may not “get” or support your idea. But after some time, when you stick to it and start getting results, you start getting support and encouragement from others.

There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just the way that building a business has always worked. Just don’t let it discourage you. I’m sure that everyone laughed at Christopher Columbus when he decided to discover new land. Why would anyone try to discover more land when there’s plenty of existing land available?

I was always interested in started businesses. I thought starting a business was like making music or painting. Whenever I had the opportunity and the time, I’d start a new business. Never did I do it for money. When customers asked for more of what I created and my employees worked hard to make those wishes possible, it felt great. We were putting good ideas into the world.

We need more good ideas in the world, ideas that make people happier. Over ten years ago, Seth Godin gave an amazing talk called “Everything is Broken,” and I can assure you, everything around us — from products to processes — are still broken. So if you have an idea for a product and the guts to do the work, congratulations, and welcome to the world of entrepreneurship!

No one’s going to tell you what to do in the world of entrepreneurship…because no one knows. Even if you hire a consultant, they won’t necessarily know what you should do, and they can’t give you a 100% guarantee of success. You’ll just have to figure it out. As someone who’s passionate about starting businesses, I recommend considering these two questions if you have an idea for a SaaS business and don’t know where to begin:

Does your product stand out?
Have you narrowed down your product?

Does your product stand out?

Some time ago I came up with an amazing idea for a SaaS business. I want to create a time tracking tool for software development teams. OK, so there’s nothing new about this idea — there are hundreds of tools like it, and there will be hundreds more in the future. But I think that’s all right because there are millions of people in the world and all of them have different needs and requirements for the tools they use. Because we have so many choices, it’s getting harder and harder to decide which products to use, so I needed to figure out how to make my time tracking tool stand out.

Making sure your product stands out is both an easy and difficult task. Easy, because here’s all you have to do: Choose an audience and build the product perfect for that audience. Difficult, because by choosing one type of audience, you have to turn away so many other people. For example, if I cater my time tracking tool to development teams by adding integration with development tools like GitHub or Bitbucket, it’s likely I’m going to turn away marketing teams.

But that’s all right. To stand out, you need to figure out who your perfect audience is and accept that you will turn others away. You can’t be everything for everyone. It’s a tough choice that we often don’t want to make. But without it, our marketing will become too generic, and generic marketing is just too expensive. Products tailored for specific people stand out, mostly because there’s a very small amount of them. Every car manufacturer has electric cars now to cater to environment-aware customers. But there’s only one Tesla that is electric-only. You want to find a niche where you will be a Tesla. Want to build a SaaS for dog trainers? Try specializing in something. Maybe focus on a specific dog breed or dogs with certain behavioral problems.

Have you narrowed down your product?

You know that Amazon started as a book shop, right? Nothing stopped them from becoming the go-to place for online shopping for almost anything. They’ve changed their business over time, and they’ve changed their marketing accordingly. They even started other businesses under the same brand — Amazon is also a cloud computing platform that offers its services to companies and even governments, and it’s also an on-demand video platform. Similarly, Google started as a search engine and expanded to almost every aspect of our lives.

Your SaaS will change over time and so will your audience — as you grow, you will expand it and reach more people. But when you are starting out, you need to narrow your ideas down.

Sometimes the definition of audience is superficial. For example, at the MVP stage, there’s no big difference between a time tracking tool for marketing and development teams. The point is to track time. But the product my team is building still stands out — it doesn’t have all the complexity that larger, universal tools have. I’m not yet sure if this is enough for people to start using our product, but the only way to figure it out is to test.

Narrowing down significantly affects your marketing. It’s easy to target ads when you know who you’re targeting. It’s also easy to write the copy for ads and landing pages when you know your audience. Creating a customer avatar is trivial in this case, as is the research for a common language. Sure, you can do the same work for a wider audience, but the amount of effort can easily grow exponentially along with your advertising budget.


Do you know who your ideal customers are? Do you have multiple audiences you could target and are having a hard time choosing one? Share your thoughts in a comment. I’d be happy to learn what you’re doing.


Originally published on Medium

Alex Ponomarev

Passionate about software development and building great products