If you’ve ever heard of a SaaS business but aren’t sure exactly what it is, you’re in luck – we can give you a bit of a lowdown and help you to identify whether it’s the business model for you. First of all, SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It’s essentially when a company creates an application that can be accessed via internet browsers, while they remain in charge of the servers, software, and database that’s associated with the application. The business model that this type of business employs predominantly involves customers paying them a monthly subscription fee, the amount of which is based on a number of different factors, including the number of users or the amount of technical support that will potentially be required by the consumer.
Many of these types of companies revolve around customer resource management, accounting and invoicing, and project management, which are just three of many applications. As a result of SaaS companies, businesses have access to low-cost hardware solutions, low-effort updates, IT expertise, and the ability to scale up business applications as required.
Before you launch into starting your own SaaS-based business venture, however, there are some things you need to consider carefully.
Users and Demographic
When it comes to creating a business, it’s often begun on the premise that there is a problem that needs to be addressed and solved – usually a problem that you’ve identified yourself and believe you have the know-how to resolve. When you think about ways you can fix identified issues, one popular model is SaaS.
Ensuring that this model is a success requires research into your users and demographic to build your understanding of the target market. If you’ve experienced a problem yourself and have decided to create a solution, the likelihood is that the base demographic is similar to you in terms of age, location, income, job role, personal challenges etc., but it’s still useful to conduct key research to verify this – all your design points and marketing will be based on this information, after all.
Current Market and Competitors
As with all business endeavors, one key element of getting started is to look closely into the current market surrounding your targeted area and the competitors currently working in that area. This will help you to assess your viability of your product or service, and help you to make informed decisions and correctly direct your time and attention in the best projects.
Conducting this aspect of research can be completed via questionnaires, customer surveys, or focus groups, which will then help you to define the competition that currently exists in the area you want to expand into. You then need to look into exactly what it is that each and every competitor offers, in order to ensure that you offer something that they don’t – or that you offer the same but at a better price point or in a more expedient/efficient way.
Plan a Prototype
After you’ve conducted all the essential research that is required before fully committing yourself to a particular SaaS business model, you need to then start to create a prototype of the website or product that you have in mind. It should be a basic version of the eventual software you want to build, containing all the key features and interactive elements that will be required. Once this has been built, you then need to open it up for limited beta tests that a focus group can utilize independently (the focus group should be formed of your key demographic).
As stated, your product needs to fill a gap in the market and solve a problem, while also containing features that are unique to your SaaS product (to set your product apart from competitors). You also need to specify which features are core, and which are additional extras that aren’t essential but are nevertheless useful. Once you’ve completed this, you can start looking into how you will fund your SaaS product.
Set Up a Team
As the ‘ideas’ person underpinning the product, it’s unlikely that you will have the requisite skills needed to develop your product fully. At this stage, once you’ve established that your product is viable, you need to construct a team who each hold the same vision as you, and the various capabilities needed to get it off the ground. To do this, you can either create an in-house team or outsource the work to experts who will match your design and vision.
The Right Software
The last, but potentially most key element of SaaS development, is to identify which software will help you to meet your vision and create something targeted at your user base. This is where your earlier research will come in handy, as you can choose based on user needs and competitors’ existing software.
Ensuring you consider each of these aspects prior to getting started with your SaaS business will help you to make your business a success.