How to Start a SaaS Business – Even If You Don’t Know Programming!

It’s more common than you think: Many smart marketers and business folks have great ideas for a product and a great plan for selling it, but no ability to build it.

If you are passionate about starting a SaaS company but don’t know programming, should that stop you from pursuing your venture?

Not really. With all the options available today, you don’t need to know how to code to start a SaaS business. Not every successful startup founder has programming skills.

Here are some “tried and tested” options available to non-technical founders:

1. DIY: Ideate, Validate & Create

  • First start with your market: The “idea” needs to be some combination of your own knowledge, skill, aptitude coupled with an actual need. The idea does not need to be original, but the need must be real.
  • Next, create a simple presentation deck and test your hypothesis by emailing or talking to atleast 50 potential customers. Keep in mind that 8/10 people say “that’s really interesting” when in fact they will not pay for it. If you can get some customers to commit to buying what you are building (even before showing them the actual product), then you are definitely on the right track. The output of this process is a validated value proposition, and whilst we are at, a sense of the market opportunity.
  • Next, hire someone to build MVP: distill your ideas into a simple, functional app that will at least validate or disprove your hypothesis. Use a service like Upwork or Guru to find a developer who will help you build that MVP, and then get it into the hands of your potential customers. No, it won’t do justice to your final vision. But it will tell you whether people are interested in your approach to solving whatever problem you’re solving, and that interest and early traction will give you an edge in the next step: finding a technical co-founder.
  • Finally, find a technical co-founder: It’s a really hard thing to do, especially if you are a first-time founder without significant credentials. Great developers always have great opportunities available to them, so convincing them to partner with you is incredibly hard. Best place to find a technical co-founder: https://angel.co and https://cofounderslab.com

Pro Tip: The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems you have yourself. For many entrepreneurs, successful business ideas don’t start out as businesses at all, but as solutions designed to address a challenge they face personally. For example, we built TeamWave to solve our own frustration with productivity apps.

2. White-Label Partnership

The technology business is very competitive. Building a software product from scratch is a high-risk option. IT / Software projects typically have a high failure rate. But, what if there a way to mitigate risk?

Solution: Consider a white label partnership, rather than building the product yourself. Of all the options available to non-technical founders, white-label licensing has the least risk.

Benefits of a white-label partnership:

  • It’s quick and easy to brand. White label solutions are generally fully integrated and ready-made, which makes branding & adding new features very easy. As the reseller/licensee, you’ll be free from concerns about needing to spend time and money on research, development and testing.
  • It keeps your customers happier. Your customers have an end goal, and using a mature solution can give them a clear and simple path to reaching it. The time (months or even years) that it takes to develop your own solution can force customers elsewhere for solutions. You can avoid this with a ready-to-use, proven business solution that meets their needs immediately.
  • It saves you time and money. Developing a solution from scratch takes a large amount of financial and human capital resources. Even if you think you can build it yourself, it’s important to factor in time for marketing. Remember, it takes time for product architecture, design, building, and testing. Cutting corners in any of these steps can leave you even further behind.
  • It gives you access to exceptional talent. Building high-quality web & mobile applications needs expertise. It’s difficult to hire (and manage) a team of “rock-star” designers, developers & project managers. By licensing a white-label solution you can get access to a great team that may be willing to collaborate on new ideas & features.
  • It allows you to focus on your business’s core competency. In many cases, the solutions that companies hope to build themselves fall far outside of their areas of expertise. It’s not smart to stretch your resources to do something that doesn’t fit within your core competencies. Avoid making the same mistakes that others have made before you.

Plug: TeamWave – Small Business CRM, Project Management & HR software. All-in-One platform. Join a community of 12,000+ users in 18 countries. Apply for white-label partnership program.

3. Buy a SaaS Business

Here’s a scenario that is completely opposite to yours: It’s not uncommon for technical people to build a good product… and have no idea how to sell it!

Just because developers can build good products does not mean they have the skills to do marketing & sales. Or maybe they’re not enthusiastic about “hustling” to scale-up revenue.

You could buy an existing SaaS business and perhaps turn it around with better strategy. Here are some places to find listings of SaaS/Software businesses for sale:

  • https://www.bizbuysell.com/software-and-app-companies-for-sale/
  • https://www.bizquest.com/
  • https://dealstream.com/software-companies-for-sale/listings
  • http://www.businessesforsale.com/search/businesses-for-sale?Keywords=saas

Pro Tip: There’s no such thing as a sure thing–and buying an existing business is no exception. If you’re not careful, you could get stuck with obsolete technology, uncooperative employees or unhappy customers. So be careful and do your due diligence.

4. Partner OR Invest in a SaaS startup

Sometimes, its better to join a startup (that already has initial traction) as a Co-founder than to start from scratch on your own. There are some talented developers with a promising product that need help with marketing, sales and likely capital.
The best way to discover SaaS startups that are looking for Co-founders is to signup on Angel List:

  • Goto: https://angel.co/jobs
  • Choose your region and use keywords like “SaaS”, “Co Founder”, etc.
  • Start a conversation by applying for the role.
Source: morganlinton.com
Image Source: morganlinton

CRM & Project Management Integration for Quickbooks

Most small businesses use QuickBooks as their first CRM. Being able to access customer contact information from the accounting software is good enough when you are a startup.

Why businesses need Quickbooks + CRM

Just like spreadsheets, QuickBooks doesn’t actually do anything to help you make sales—it only helps you manage billing and accounting.

A growing business needs CRM software to manage relationships and bring transparency to sales funnels. This boosts chances of closing more deals.

Your business can get significant value by picking a CRM that integrates with Quickbooks online.

Think of “QuickBooks-CRM integration” as a way for every member of your team to have a birds-eye view of every client: What stage of the buying process are they at? Do you need to nurture them more? What do their past buying behaviors look like? What did you discuss during your last conversation with them?

Why businesses need Quickbooks + Project Management

Quickbooks offers time-tracking / timesheet management for payroll. However, Quickbooks does not offer project or task management. If you need to collaborate with your team, clients or partners you need to invest in a project management app.

Project management software can boost your team’s productivity and bring better accountability within the organization. Integrating project management with Quickbooks is particularly valuable for businesses that collaborate and bill clients for services.

How to pick the best CRM and project management software that integrates with Quickbooks

There are dozens of vendors/tools that claim to integrate with Quickbooks. However, not all integrations are equal. Most CRM/PM offer Quickbooks integration via third-party services like Zapier. This can be expensive and time consuming to set up.

Only a handful of CRM apps offer direct integration with Quickbooks. Even fewer project management apps offer direct integration with Quickbooks.

TeamWave is the only Quickbooks Online integration that works seamlessly for both project management and CRM.

Together: TeamWave and QBO combine to give you one complete view of your business, from capturing that first lead, delivering projects, right through to invoicing and payments.

Key benefits of TeamWave + Quickbooks integration:

  • Direct integration means an end to annoying downloading and uploading of files.
  • Automatically creates new customer records in TeamWave and QuickBooks Online and keeps them synced.
  • Export project timesheet to Quickbooks with one-click
  • Save time and keep your data clean
QuickBooks + TeamWave brings measurable increase in business efficiency, convenience and productivity.

Starting a SaaS Business? Consider White Label Partnerships

SaaS is a revenue and distribution model for software “product” companies that make money by charging customers on a monthly or annual basis. The SaaS business can be incredibly profitable if “product-market” fit is achieved and unit economics are right.

So how do you go about starting a SaaS company? How do you pick the right business idea? How do you hire a team to build the product for you?

Your first instinct may be to hire developers (in-house OR outsourced) and then try to do-it-yourself. After all, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about, right?

Not always. The technology business is very competitive. Picking a product idea or making a business plan is the easy part. Building a high-quality software product from scratch is really difficult and can actually be a high-risk option. Building your own product can lead you to:

  • Reinventing the wheel, making mistakes that others before you have already made and mastered
  • Dramatically slow down your time to market, as you try to troubleshoot and increase your learning curve outside your core competency
  • Spend too much money developing tools and solutions that already exist
  • Miss out on resources and expertise in the specific space where you need a focused solution

The million dollar question: Is there a way to mitigate risk? Is it possible to start a SaaS business without being involved in product development (and maintenance)?

Yes. You can license white label software, rather than building the product yourself.

“White label” refers to a fully supported product or service that’s made by one company but sold by another. As a reseller, you can purchase a White-label product license. That way, you (the white-label reseller) can customize the product with your own pricing plans, logo and identity, allowing customers to associate the product with your brand.

Benefits of a white-label partnership:

  1. It’s quick and easy to brand. White label solutions are generally fully integrated and ready-made, which makes branding & adding new features very easy. As the reseller, you’ll be free from concerns about needing to spend time and money on research, development and testing.
  2. It keeps your customers happier. Your customers have an end goal, and using a mature solution can give them a clear and simple path to reaching it. The time (years!) that it takes to develop your own solution can force customers to look elsewhere. You can avoid this with a ready-to-use, proven business solution that meets their needs immediately.
  3. It saves you time and money. Developing a high-quality solution from scratch takes a large amount of financial and human capital. Even if you think you can build it yourself, it’s important to factor in time for marketing. Remember, it takes time for product architecture, design, building, and testing. Cutting corners in any of these steps can leave you even further behind.
  4. It gives you access to exceptional talent. Building high-quality web & mobile applications needs expertise. It’s difficult to hire (and manage) a team of “rock-star” designers, developers & project managers. By simply licensing a white-label solution you can get access to a great team that may be willing to collaborate on new ideas & features.
  5. It allows you to focus on your business’s core competency. In many cases, the solutions that companies hope to build themselves fall far outside of their areas of expertise. It’s not smart to stretch your resources to do something that doesn’t fit within your core competencies. Avoid making the same mistakes that others have made before you.

Bottomline

White label reseller program and partnerships in SaaS can help you utilise your business’s unique branding to offer a product or service without investing in infrastructure or technology creation around the solution. You can focus on building your brand and selling your services while simplifying the conversion path for your customers.

List of Software / SaaS companies that offer white label partnerships: