- Nico Botha
If you've ever wondered how to create a SaaS product from scratch, you're in the right place. This article will guide you through a six-step process, from idea to a successful SaaS product.
There is also a bonus at the end, so keep reading.
The SaaS market is booming and for good reason. The increasing popularity of cloud-based software and its convenience for users has led many entrepreneurs to consider entering the SaaS market.
Not only can a SaaS product be a lucrative side income, but it can also have the potential to become a full-fledged company.
In this article, I'll take you through the process of creating a SaaS product, from the initial idea and planning stages to coding and launching your product.
Whether you want to create a SaaS product as a side hustle or as the foundation of your business, I've got you covered.
6 Steps To Make A SaaS Product
There are 6 main stages when it comes to building and shipping a SaaS product:
- Step 1: Coming Up With a SaaS Idea (Ideation)
- Step 2: Validate Your Idea
- Step 3: Build Your Product
- Step 4: Test Your Product
- Step 5: Launch Your SaaS
- Step 6: Continue Improving Your Product
To give your product the best chance at success, it’s important to understand each of these steps in detail.
And that’s what we’ll be doing in this article, exploring the steps you need to take to make your first SaaS product.
So let’s get into it.
Step 1: Coming Up With a SaaS Idea (Ideation)
Coming up with a new SaaS idea can be challenging, especially because many people believe the idea must be unique. But this is not always the case.
In fact, if you want to create a successful SaaS product, it often involves improving upon something that already exists.
This is because creating something completely new requires a lot of marketing effort, including user education, distribution, and sales.
If you need some inspiration for SaaS ideas, I've compiled a list of 11 SaaS ideas to help you get started faster.
Many people who have already started their SaaS journey recommend building a product in a niche that you are passionate about and have some knowledge of.
For example, it would be difficult to build the best accounting software if you have no experience with accounting or if you do not enjoy it.
Your idea will define your target market. Once you have identified your market, you can conduct deeper research on it.
Look for competitors, potential customers, and potential marketing channels, for example. This is the first step in verification. If you do not like what you see, you may want to reconsider building that product.
Before moving on to step 2, I suggest building a landing page that roughly describes the pain points you plan to solve for your customers, and collecting leads through it in step 2.
You can collect emails, social media handles, or any other information that will help you reach those who subscribed later.
A website is a crucial element that is often overlooked and built too late.
Many SaaS founders only build one just before the beta phase, which results in missed leads.
Step 2: Validate Your Idea
There are several ways to validate your idea.
I suggest doing as much validation as possible, as it can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
It can save you a lot of time by ensuring that you are not building the wrong product or building it in the wrong direction.
The easiest and quickest way is to simply talk to your potential customers.
In step 1, you should have identified your potential customer. In step 2, you should talk to them:
- Ask them about their problems related to your product
- Ask how they would feel if those problems were solved in the way you intended
- Ask if and how much they would pay for that solution
- Ask anything that could help you validate your idea
Keep in mind to ask direct questions - ask in a way that requires a straightforward and honest answer.
People tend to sugarcoat their responses if they know you expect a certain desired answer. Try to get them to be completely blunt and honest.
If you are going to spend several weeks building the product, you want to be sure that you are not doing so in vain.
Another way to validate your idea is to build an MVP and gather feedback from potential customers.
What is an MVP?
An MVP or Minimal Viable Product is a basic version of your product with only the most essential features.
By collecting feedback from a small group of early adopters, you can determine if there is enough interest in the product to justify further development.
What was mentioned earlier also applies here: don't let them sugarcoat their responses - ask them to be honest.
This is the only way to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
It’s also important to validate the business model for your SaaS product. This includes determining pricing and revenue streams, as well as any costs associated with developing and maintaining the product.
Overall, validating a SaaS idea involves gathering data and feedback from potential customers, analyzing the market and competitors, and determining the feasibility of the business model.
By taking the time to thoroughly validate the idea, you can increase the chances of success for your SaaS product.
Step 3: Build Your Product
After defining and validating your idea, it's time to begin constructing your SaaS product.
There are several approaches you can take based on your technical skills and resources.
This gives you complete control over the development process and allows you to create a product that meets your specific needs.
However, building a product from scratch can be time-consuming and requires a certain level of technical expertise.
To speed up the process, you can use a SaaS boilerplate that handles most of the necessities to start quickly. It takes care of login, payment, authorization, and authentication, among other things.
Alternatively, you can use platforms like Salesforce or Zoho to create your product without coding from scratch.
These platforms offer pre-built templates and tools that make it easier to build a SaaS product, even without coding experience.
However, you may be limited by the features and functionality offered by the platform.
Another option is to use No-Code tools like Bubble.
Even though they don't require coding, you'll still need some technical knowledge to make the app efficient and cost-effective.
No matter what approach you choose, it's crucial to plan out the development process and set clear goals and milestones. This will help ensure that your product is built efficiently and effectively.
Additionally, consider the infrastructure and hosting needs for your SaaS product. Will you host it on your own servers, or will you use a cloud hosting provider like AWS or Azure?
Understanding your hosting needs will help you plan for the necessary resources and budget.
Building a SaaS product requires careful planning and execution.
By following a clear development process and considering your technical skills and resources, you'll be well on your way to creating a successful product.
Step 4: Test Your Product
Testing your SaaS product is a vital part of the development process. It helps ensure that your product is ready for the market and meets the needs of your target audience.
There are various types of testing you can do to ensure the quality and usability of your product, such as:
- Functional testing: This involves testing the various functions and features of your product to make sure they work as intended.
- Performance testing: This involves testing the performance of your product, including its speed and stability.
- Usability testing: This involves testing the user experience of your product to ensure it's easy to use and intuitive for your target audience.
To conduct these tests, you can use a combination of automated testing tools and manual testing by a small group of users.
Gathering feedback from these users can help you identify any issues and make necessary improvements before launching your product.
It's also important to consider the different environments in which your product will be used. Will it be accessed from desktop computers, mobile devices, or both?
Testing your product on different devices and platforms will help ensure it works as intended for all users.
This is often done through a process called Beta testing.
This is a special stage of your product development in which customers sign up for your product knowing that they may have to deal with bugs.
They sign up because most products offer incentives to beta testers, such as a 50% discount forever or always paying $1.
This way, customers get discounts and you get free feedback from your target audience, which is a dream come true for every SaaS founder.
Testing your SaaS product may take some time and effort, but it's a crucial part of the development process.
By thoroughly testing your product and gathering feedback, you'll be better equipped to create a successful product that meets the needs of your target audience.
Step 5: Launch Your SaaS
After testing your SaaS product and making any necessary improvements, it's time to launch it on the market.
Launching your product involves several steps, such as setting up a payment system, creating marketing materials, and spreading the word about your product.
One of the first things you'll need to do is set up a payment system. This can be done through platforms like Stripe or Paddle.
These two are the most popular among SaaS founders, but there are other solutions as well.
To get the word out about your product, you'll need to implement a marketing strategy.
This could include paid advertising, content marketing, or partnerships with other companies or influencers.
The goal of your marketing strategy should be to reach and attract potential customers interested in your product.
There are platforms with well-established audiences that can help you reach more potential customers, such as ProductHunt, IndieHackers, and HackerNews.
Finally, it's essential to have a plan in place for customer support and onboarding.
This includes having a system for handling customer inquiries and issues and providing support and training to help new users get started with your product.
Step 6: Continue Improving Your Product
Continuing to improve your SaaS product is an ongoing process that is crucial to its success. Even after launching your product, it's important to gather feedback from users and make improvements to meet their changing needs. There are several ways you can gather feedback and continue improving your product:
- Monitor user behavior: Analyzing how users interact with your product can give you valuable insights into their needs and preferences. Data from heatmaps and user recordings can help you understand how users are using your product and identify areas for improvement.
- Collect customer feedback: Gathering feedback directly from customers through surveys, reviews, or focus groups can help you understand their needs and pain points. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and make necessary updates to your product.
- Analyze competitors: Keeping an eye on competitors can help you understand industry trends and identify areas where your product can differentiate itself. You can use this information to make improvements to your product and stay competitive.
It's also important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and technological developments.
This can help you identify new opportunities for your product and ensure it stays relevant and useful to your target audience. Improving your SaaS product is an ongoing process that requires ongoing effort.
By gathering feedback, analyzing competitors, and staying up-to-date with industry trends, you can ensure that your product continues to meet the needs of your target audience and stays competitive in the market.
BONUS: Maintain Your Marketing Game
"Build it and they will come" is a phrase often used to mock SaaS founders or programmers who build in the dark alone, hoping someone will stumble upon their SaaS and buy it.
This is obviously not a viable strategy. I've spoken to several successful SaaS founders and found that the most common marketing strategies they use to successfully run their SaaS are:
- Starting with content as soon as you validate your idea. It's never too early to start a blog. But the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get organic traffic. Investing in SEO is especially important if you want to stay in the game for a long time. Even though it may seem expensive and pointless, it's more valuable in the long run than anything else you'll do.
- Constantly communicating with your target customer. Create social media profiles and use them to help your customers. Interact with them, talk to them, and help them in the comments. Don't just use them to promote your stuff.
- Diversifying your marketing channels. Don't rely on just one, two, or three channels. Try to find as many as possible. But no matter how many channels you have, always make sure you have at least one where you own your audience, like a newsletter. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of other companies.
- Helping your customers as much as possible. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it's actually really actionable and quite popular. Give away as much as you can to your customers for free. This will build your reputation, your authority, and their trust in you.
- Not trusting others for your marketing. This is a mistake we all make when starting out. We try to copy what others do, usually blindly. But you shouldn't. Someone may have huge success with Google Ads, but you might have zero. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try Google Ads. Use others to get as many marketing ideas as possible and then test them. Most of them will fail, some will stick, and one or two will be excellent.
No matter what you do, make sure you have a constant focus on your marketing and produce as much high-quality content as possible.
You never know what will bring in new customers.
Building a SaaS product requires careful planning and validation of the initial idea.
This includes identifying a target market and researching competitors, as well as collecting feedback from potential customers through methods such as direct conversations and building a minimal viable product.
Establishing a website and gathering leads early on in the process also increases an entrepreneur's chances of success in the growing SaaS market.
After completing the initial planning and validation stages, the next step in building a SaaS product is to begin the coding process.
To speed up this process, you can use a SaaS boilerplate that will solve all the challenges and features you need to start fast.
Keep the target market in mind during this stage and ensure that the product is meeting the needs and solving the pain points of the intended users.
Finally, once the product is developed and tested, it's time to launch.
Create a marketing plan to promote the product and attract users, and set up a pricing model and payment system.
It's also essential to have a plan in place for customer support and ongoing product development to ensure the success and growth of the SaaS product.
Overall, building a SaaS product requires a combination of careful planning, coding and development, and marketing and promotion efforts.