So we have a classic set of New Year’s Resolutions in SaaS that we update every year. But 2023 is so … unique. The Best in SaaS are still growing at incredible rates, but the overhang from the crazy multiples and VC funding run of late 2020-early 2022 will hang over our heads for the rest of the year. And the combo of inflation and CFO-level scrutiny for deals is wreaking havoc with all our plans.
So with that … here are Your Top 10 New Year’s SaaS Resolutions for 2023:
#1. Go Hire That Missing VP! OK, this has been on our New Year’s list since inception, but it’s as true as ever. The best way to get out of a hole is to hire a great VP. A great VP of Sales. Of Marketing. Of Product. Of Eng. What’s your #1 VP hole? Well, stop saying you can’t hire anyone. Stop doing it all yourself. And just go finally hire her.
#2. Make Absolutely Sure Your Burn Rate is Under Control. This is so much more important in 2023. Venture Capital has dried up. VCs are tapped out on bridge rounds. You have to not only make the capital last, but make sure it lasts as long as planned. And the #1 issue I see is founders almost getting the burn rate under control. Almost hitting the burn rate plan. That won’t work. Even a burn rate a smidge higher than plan tends to compound to … a burn rate that is out of control. More here.
#3. Find a segment of your customer base that is still doing really, really well. And sell hard there. If things are tougher for you, well, they can’t be tougher everywhere. Toast says restaurants aren’t slowing down. Shopify is seeing higher e-commerce growth at the end of 2022 than earlier. Healthcare has seen no real downturn or impacts. Go find a segment where you can win.
#4. Don’t settle for less growth than Your NRR + 20%. E.g., if your NRR is 120%, even if times are tougher, don’t settle for growing at least +40% next year. Not all your customer base has evaporated. Don’t hide in excuses and a high NRR. Don’t hide in renewals. Don’t force your base to pay more than they want to. Force yourself to at least grow +20% more than your NRR.
#5. Launch a truly great second product. Best case, your happy customers buy more from you. Worst case, they still use it and are happy, and churn less. A related post here.
#6. Launch a more valuable, new higher-end edition. Raising prices may or may not work for you. Be thoughtful. But launching a new, more enterprise / more powerful / better edition? That’s a value-add, done right. A bit more here.
#7. Just move on from any underperformers. Everyone lowered the hiring bar a bit in the 2021 Boom. If you’re stuck with any underperformers, just humanely move on from them in January. There’s no room to carry them anymore. Move on from your worst reps that don’t really close. And perhaps most important, move on from mediocre customer success folks. You need the team sharp to retain your customers in 2023. Not folks phoning it in. More here.
#8. Promote your best, get extra grants to the best. Hopefully, you already did this at the end of the year. But if not, it’s OK. Promote your top few ICs, and if you can, promote a Director to VP. And whether you promote them or not, get extra stock grants to your Top 10% hires. Those are the keepers. More here.
#9. Do a better job communicating with your investors. Almost everyone got a bit slack here during the Boom. If you ever want any more help from your VCs and other investors, you have to communicate. Do prompt monthly updates. Do real board meetings every 8-10 weeks. Do a real budget, and get it approved. More here.
#10. At least grow faster than the competition. If times are more challenging in your space, at least challenge the team to do well on a relative basis. Really find out how your Top 2-3 competitors are doing. And at least grow faster than them. At least take market share. That’s a win and a victory right there. More here.