Getting to Initial Scale

10 SaaS New Year Resolutions For You. A Pick List.

echojason@gmail.com'

Jason Lemkin

So you had a great December, added a great VP or two last year, won some bigger deals, and in general — you’re feeling good.

You’ve even got a decent financial plan for this year in place.  Even better.

With all that behind you … let me challenge you to 10 SaaS New Year’s Resolutions.  Pick a few that work for you:

  • Get That Key VP Hire Done in Q1.  Period.  Not in April.  Not by June.  Enough with the excuses for not having hired your real VP of Sales, or that VP of Engineering, or whatever.  Get it Done.  From now until Mar 31, make this your #1 priority.  Hire a real recruiter.  Force yourself to meet 30 additional candidates.  Meet at least one new candidate every single day.  Once you hit Initial Traction, nothing really matters but the team.  Drop other stuff to get this hire done.  Drop almost everything else to get that one critical, missing VP hired in Q1.
  • Increase Pricing in January — Somehow.  Pricing is a nuanced topic.  It’s really all about deal size in most SaaS companies, not raw per seat or per unit pricing.  But anyhow — in January, find a way.  Ask for at least 20% more in your biggest deals.  Add a new edition.  Do it in a customer-centric way.  And probably grandfather in your older customers.  But it’s time for an upgrade here.  And if you don’t think you can support higher pricing, that’s OK.  That will force you and the team to add more value to your product to pull it off.
  • moreawesomeBurn Less — But Spend More.  Yes, this is possible.   Burn less than the base plan you just made.  But that doesn’t mean spend less.  It actually means spend more — just in accretive ways.  Deploy more $$$ into programs that work.  And less $$$ into things where you don’t understand the ROI.  Hire more sales reps in the areas where they are profitable.  Hire more engineers that can build features that help you close six figure deals.  Do more pre-paid deals, even multi-year pre-paid deals.  Once you are past $2m-$3m in ARR, you can spend more and burn less, if you are super smart about how you do it.   More here.
  • Get on More Jets.  Do you meet with 5 customers a month?  Do you get on a jet at least twice a month?  No?  Well, you’ll lose those customers.  Or at least, they won’t buy as much from you.  Get on a jet.  Marc Benioff still does.  If he still does – what’s your excuse?  More here.
  • Increase your Customer Events.  Events don’t have to cost $7m+ like the SaaStr Annual.  You can get just as much out of a steak dinner.  Do 2x the customer events you did last year.   Fill them 50% with existing customers, and 50% with prospects.  This works.  Double the pace of last year.  And if last year was zero — then start in Q1.   More here.
  • Top Someone.  Stretch VPs are great.  They’re usually the way to go.  But it’s time to top someone that won’t scale all the way to December of this year.  Be loyal, do it the right way.  But don’t let too much time go here.  You’ll know when they’ve reached their limits.  If they already have, recognize that and find their new boss.
  • Get More Agile (in Product).  Most SaaS companies get less agile over time.  Feature debt, security debt, QA debt, it all adds up.  Pretty soon you aren’t really pushing out as many features as you used to.   Stop this in Q1.  Add a new team just focused on cool features.  Add a new team just focused on integrations.  Upgrade the mobile team.  Figure out what you can do with data.  Pick something.  Pick one place you can add to dev to be more agile.  Not less.
  • Grow As Fast or Faster Than the Competition.  Period.  Competition is a nuanced topic.  But one thing is a constant — you should be able to grow at least as fast as your competition.   If you’re not growing as quickly, do a real root cause analysis.  And fix it.  Competition can split markets, and capital can be an offensive weapon in hyper-competitive markets.  But if you have happy customers, if it’s working — there’s at least no excuse to grow more slowly on a relative basis than the competition.  More here.
  • Find a New Mentor.  And Pay Up to Get Her.  It’s a new year, and by the end of it, you’ll almost be a whole new company.  It’s time to add a new mentor to help you scale.  And pay up.  The best ones don’t work for free.  I don’t mean cash, I mean a fair amount of equity.  The folks that helped you get to $1m, to $5m, to $10m, etc. are still great.  But add to your mentor team.  Being a CEO isn’t a lonely job on a daily basis, but too many tough decisions are made too solo, without a good mentor.  Add one to the team.
  • Drive Up Your NPS.  And Set a Big Goal and Make it Everyone’s.  I know you’ve heard this from me before (more here).  But in 2017, brands matter more than ever.  Because there’s vendor fatigue.  Too many SaaS companies selling too many products.  Happy customers and second order revenue are your best secret weapon.  More than ever.  Most importantly, make it a company-wide goal.  Make everyone in the company in charge of driving NPS up to 50, or up 10 points, or whatever goal is appropriate.  Make it a goal for everyone – and magic will happen.

Ten ideas for your SaaS New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m betting at least 1 or 2 are good ones to add to your list.  That, and getting to the gym more often.

Published on January 3, 2017
  • digivish

    Love it!

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