After an impressive career in SaaS, SaaStr CEO Jason Lemkin knows a thing or two about growing business in today’s competitive climate. Boast.AI Co-Founder Lloyed Lobo recently interviewed Jason about his experience and advice for SaaS leaders.
Stay the Course: Avoid Serial Entrepreneurship
It takes a special kind of person to be a SaaS founder, typically a passionate, driven individual who enjoys building products and creating successful businesses. That’s why there are often cases in which founders will launch a successful startup, sell it as it takes off, then start another one.
Founders should avoid this practice, in Jason’s opinion: “Don’t be a serial entrepreneur. Be a one-time winner.” He advises that founders stick with their company long-term as it grows without jumping ship to start other ventures. He emphasizes that the tech world is rife with opportunity and founders should focus on one successful endeavor to maximize the outcome. “Cloud has never been bigger. I don’t think founders fully internalize the power of that, the tailwinds, the boost it gives you.”
Don’t Panic About Growth Rate.
In today’s landscape, the faster the growth rate, the better. So how should founders feel if their pace is a bit slower than the mega-successful unicorns out there?
Jason acknowledges that convincing your target market to buy your product at the beginning is the most challenging part of your company’s journey. However, if you’re growing at a mediocre rate after your first million, don’t worry. Stay the course, and you might surprise yourself. “Everyone would like to go from one to ten in six quarters…but if it takes you five years to go from one to ten, does it really matter at the end of the day?”
Plus, before you hit $10 million, the growth rate isn’t always the most critical indicator of success. What really matters is your velocity after that point which carries you to $100 million.
CEOs, Stop Taking on Too Much
SaaS leaders dedicate so much time and effort to building their company from the ground up, so it’s understandable they have a hard time learning to let go and knowing when to do so. Jason lays out three main extra burdens that CEOs need to release as soon as possible.
- Stop being an individual contributor. This should end early as you hire salespeople, marketers, product team, etc.
- Stop being a VP. Sometimes a CEO can get caught up in leading a specific team, especially if they have particular expertise.
- Hire great VPs. Be sure you hire passionate, talented leadership to help ease your burden.
Become a Platform Company: Don’t Neglect Your Ecosystem
“Folks who wait to build out their APIs, folks that wait to open up their ability to partner with others…if you wait, you’re almost always leaving opportunity behind.” Instead, Jason advises quickly getting your API built and pursuing who you believe will be your strongest partners to generate the most revenue. However, the revenue isn’t always enough; he stresses that founders should create positive relationships to maintain the partnerships moving forward.
- Don’t be a serial entrepreneur. Instead, focus on continued growth for your company.
- CEOs must hire great VPs to help ease the burden.
- Focus on expanding your platform as early as possible through your API and partner relationships.