Vladimir Pilipchatin

How to launch SaaS Product Faster

6
min. reading
May 24, 2021

Launching SaaS Product is a game against a clock. You gotta make it work before you run out of money and energy.

The faster you launch & get feedback from users the lower the risk. Even if you fail, it is better to do it fast while still having a roof above your head.

The longer you are building without launching the higher risks of:

  • Running out of patience, energy, and money before you ever launch.
  • Spending months or even years building the wrong thing that nobody needs.
  • Missing an opportunity because you aren’t sure whether you’ll have the resources to make it through.

How is that sound to you? Building a product for 9 months, spending sh*t load of money, and never launching. Exciting! Isn’t? :)

Not really.

So let’s try to figure how you can launch SaaS Products faster and minimize the risks.

Build less, ship more

The reason why products take so long to ship to the market is that you build a lot.

So want to ship faster? Build less.

So want to ship faster? Build less.

That simple.

As disappointing as it is, unfortunately, there is no magic pill. To build a 10-floor building you need to invest time and money as for a 10-floor building.

To launch faster you need to build a smaller version of the product.

Easier said than done.

The challenge is that making your product work with less, not that straightforward:

  • Your entrepreneurial heart shrinks every time you decide to leave the feature from the release.
  • The launch requires more planning to make sure that a leaner version of the product still aligned with your goals.
  • You’ll need to make lots of decisions & compromises first release.

So let see what can help you to figure out how to make it work with less.

Get ok with launching not “completed”

I know launching not perfect makes you uncomfortable. Often the reason for this is the fear of negative feedback.

But what scares you more?

  1. Getting negative feedback fast, processing it and through several iterations build a product that people want.
  2. Spending a year and all of your money building the product, launching it, and realizing that nobody needs it.

If you’ll wait to launch till the product is “perfect”, you are risking never launch.

Why?

Because there is no such thing as a completed product. You can always do better. You’ll always have something to improve.

Often founders run out of motivation and money way earlier than the product is “perfect” and ready to the market.

Product work is finished only when it is shut down.

To help yourself bear launching not “completed” product remember that:

  1. Launching earlier and getting feedback will result in a better product long term. It is because your decisions would be driven by the feedback from real users, not guesses.
  2. You can always limit first releases to be invite-only to set for early adopters upfront expectations and avoid negative impact on a brand.
  3. You can always add more features and improve your product. While you can’t return the time spent building the wrong thing. (Time sometimes is annoying that way)

So try to launch the product for the first user as soon as it can demonstrate your value proposition.

Set the right goals for the first launch

Aiming to get a 7 figure recurring revenue stream right off the bat, doesn’t give you any wiggle room to build a simpler version of the product.

It only puts high expectations on your first release and as a result lots of stress.

There is nothing bad in 7 figure RR stream goal. That’s awesome.

The only thing there is a big gap between launching the first version of a product and making it valuable enough to get paid users.

And there are very few chances to bridge the gap without showing it to users and making several iterations & pivots.

So by setting too high expectations for the first release, you can end up with a product that is too far away in the wrong direction.

On the other hand, when your expectations for the first release are “just to see whether anyone needs it” gives you room to launch a leaner version faster.

Smaller goals for the first release lets you adjust your course earlier

Goals for the first launch that helps you ship products faster:

  1. Get sign up to waiting list
  2. Get the first active user in the app
  3. See whether anybody would be able to use it
  4. See whether anyone will purchase a paid plan

Goals for the first launch that makes you ship slower:

  1. Build 7 figure RR stream within 2 weeks after the launch
  2. Launch and retire on the Maldives in 2 months

You can read more in-depth on how goals help ship MVP to the market faster here.

Clearly define the problem you are solving

Get crystal clear on what problem you are solving.

Why?

I guess, I already annoyed you with this. But to launch SaaS Products faster you need to build less.

To build less you need to cut out everything that doesn’t matter.

To know what doesn’t matter you need to know what matters.

So research, analyze and define exactly what problem you are trying to solve to know what matters and what doesn’t.

Don’t fall in love with a solution

There is no much value in a solution if it doesn’t solve a problem.

Still, we are so fast to stick to our original solution that any change to it threatens our image of a perfect world. When in your dreams you see a smoothly working product that changes the lives of its user, no doubt cutting out the feature feels like torture.

But till the solution is only a picture in your head, how well it will solve the problem is only a guess.

What will let you figure out a leaner version of the product is fixing the target audience & problem and being open to the different solutions.

Fix time & budget, flex scope

It is very improbable to accurately predict how much time will take to build x.

As you build, the scope will grow, and if you don’t have a set-in-the-stone deadline and budget, it is super easy to get out of the scope.

How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.

— Fred Brooks, software engineer, and computer scientist

The way to stay within time & budget is to fix them and flex the scope.

Define how much time & money you’d be happy to spend to get a product launched. And how much time & money wouldn’t already make sense.

And then…

If you can’t fit everything in within the time and budget allotted then don’t expand the time and budget. Instead, pull back the scope. There’s always time to add stuff later — later is eternal, now is fleeting.

- Basecamp, Getting Real

Launch MVP

With mental models above in your toolkit plan & launch an MVP. To figure out that someone/no one needs your product you don’t need to spend a fortune and 12 months of life.

Aim to prove your riskiest assumption with the least time and money possible.

Usually when you have a goal like “See whether the product would be valuable for the user?” or “See whether anyone would be able to use it?” allows you to let go of the burden of all the nice-to-have features.

Once you have planed an MVP that you think is the absolute minimum — cut it in a half.

Recap

Launching SaaS Product is a game against a clock. The faster you launch the fewer risks you have.

There is no magic pill to dramatically launch a SaaS Product faster.

The way to launch faster is to build less.

Even though how to make it work with less isn’t obvious, with proper prioritization & thought you can figure that out.

Often it is the matter of changing the way you think about the launch that helps you to see opportunities how to build less and get more.

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Thank you for reading!

I hope you enjoyed the read and it will help you launch your SaaS Product Business faster :)

And if you’d like more posts like this please do join the email list.

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