So Hunter Walk of Homebrew aptly summarized what I’ve been trying to say less eloquently for about 2-3 months.
For 90% of startups, if you’re struggling right now … sure, blame the market. But it’s not that, if your market is huge. It’s You.
“Note: I don’t want to hear seed companies complain about ‘the market.’ You literally just showed me a deck that said your TAM was 10,000 customers” @hunterwalk https://t.co/dHVPxo7mZ0
— Jason ✨2022 SaaStr Annual Sep 13-15 ✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) July 14, 2022
Let’s think about it for a minute — and then look at some data from literally the worst recession any of us have seen in our lifetimes, that of ’08-’09. It was 1000x worse than anything today, trust me.
- First, let’s do the TAM discussion Hunter is summarizing. If your market is say, 100,000 potential customers — even if your “TTAM” is only 5,000 initial customers — then you have no market excuse for not getting at least 10, 20, 100, or even 500 of them. If your product really matters. If it solves a true, 10x problem. Because you’ve barely penetrated a huge market.
- Even if that market is slowing down a little bit of buying, in the aggregate, that shouldn’t stop you stealing 0.1% market share from Shopify, Zendesk, Salesforce, etc. They are still growing like a weed. And there’s still always at least a small but engaged group of customers looking for a better solution.
- Almost every Cloud leader is growing like a weed. From Datadog to Snowflake to Zendesk to Box to Twilio. Some are much more impacted post-Covid, like Shopify and Zoom. But even there, the growth is real.
- Even when the global economy literally melted down, and >froze< in 2009 — the buyers in SaaS still came. Churn went way up, for sure. But buyers still came. More on the actual data here.
No, if your growth has radically slowed the past few months — it’s you. Gartner is still predicting epic growth in CIO spend in 2023. Our economy still has essentially no unemployment.
This isn’t to say maybe things haven’t gotten a bit harder. If you’re selling to struggling startups, that’s a challenge today. And enterprises, for now, seem more immune to all the tumult than SMBs in some cases.
But don’t give yourself an “excuse” that the economy has stopped you from getting to 0.1% or even 1% market share. Especially when the leaders in SaaS are growing faster than ever. Even accelerating:
- Zendesk grew 30% at $1.6B ARR last quarter. That’s up from 24% at $1B in ARR.
- Box grew 18% at $1B ARR last quarter — and that’s up from 10% growth just a year ago!
- Snowflake grew 102% last quarter at $1.5B in ARR. That’s triple digit growth.
- Asana reported 57% growth at $500m in ARR last quarter. That’s a smidge up from the prior quarter (55%).
Sorry for the delay man!
— Aaron Levie (@levie) May 26, 2022
No, be honest. If growth is materially slowing, your product may just need to get more valuable, and better. And fast.
Be honest here, and you’ll have time. You can course correct. You can lean in on what is working. But blame the “market”? Hooray. Use that excuse. It will play. Folks will believe it.
And you’ll be throwing your chance to do something amazing down the drain.