I've been working on my SaaS projects all by myself over the last four years, and I've had some failures and some success, here are some of the lessons that I've learned!
Although it may look easy from the outside, doing all the development, marketing, customer service and everything else required to run a business takes a lot of time and effort, but it's not impossible. There are countless examples of highly successful businesses operated by a one-person team.
Some examples that I know of are:
As far as I know, they're all run by a single person doing all the things, including the development of the product. They're all very open about how they go about things and their blogs are a great source of inspiration!
You have to let go of your ego and allow yourself to ship something that might embarrass you.
Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about shipping a half-assed product or something that doesn't work . The hustle MVP mentality of building something functional in a weekend, and releasing it to see if anyone is desperate enough to buy your product is not sustainable either, there's a middle ground where you can be proud of your product but release with some rough edges.
For some reason we think that when we release a project to the wild people will start flocking to the signup page, "you build it, they will come" right? but it's never the case, which yeah it is frustrating.
You've spent all this time building this great but no one knows about it yet, marketing is as important if not more important than the development of the product, so make sure you allocate some time for that.
In my experience, unless you already have an audience, it's going to be a long time form when you deploy your project to get paid customers that are not your family or buddies, so the earlier you launch that the earlier you can start getting real feedback and iterate on your product.
Whenever I get the urge to spend a whole day refactoring simple things I ask myself if this will bring more value to the customer, if in the same amount of time that it will take me to refactor this little thing I can provide more value elsewhere I try to do that instead. I know, easier said than done :)
A business needs constant attention and you have to be able to put in the hours, even when you don't want to, the worst thing is having to work in areas that you don't enjoy. Make sure you work on something that uses your strengths as much as possible, this will also give you a competitive advantage against the competition.
This is the reason why I decided to work on something like Genie, it's a problem that I am passionate about and I can see it evolve in many directions, which excites me and I know will keep me on my toes.
I have realized that all my failed projects had something in common, they were all built for the wrong reasons. I was chasing a trend, trying to take advantage of a growth opportunity, or unconsciously copying someone else's idea.
When that happens it eventually gets to a point where you don't have the energy to work on it anymore and lose motivation, whenever you start a new project you should ask whether you can see yourself working on this in the next years and if you don't then the idea might not be worth pursuing.
You have to figure out the right reasons yourself as everyone has different priorities, my reason at the moment is that I'd like to make a living doing what I enjoy doing, so I start from there, and then pick something that can solve a real problem and turn it into a business, and not the other way around.
It's been proven that most of what makes a business successful is being consistent and relentlessly market and improving your product to solve real problems, so ensuring that you work on something that you'll be able to still enjoy during years is a pretty great indicator of future success.
I hope you found this insightful! Share if you did :)
I am currently working on Genie, a platform that streamlines the process of building and deploying custom bots.