Main illustration: Lily Wang
You often hear great talks about the founding story and how to drive that first phase of growth. At SaaStr, I talked about what happens after that, how you can drive your next phase of growth.
When you are starting a business, or joining a new one, you are excited and full of ideas. You probably have a goal in mind. It might be to launch a new product, to define a new category or to hit $1M in revenue.
“What you thought was the finish line was actually just the starting line”
You work hard and get there, which is amazing! You hit your goal – you launched that new product, defined that new category, hit $1M in revenue. But it turns out, that what you thought was the finish line was actually just the starting line. It turns out there is a lot more work to do. How do you keep growing?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot through both successes and failures, and these are my top 5 strategies in scaling SaaS businesses from $1M to $500M in revenue:
- Expand your market. Figure out how your product can solve the problem you originally solved, but for a broader set of customers. If you only serve your initial customers, you are stunting your future growth. If you start by serving smaller customers, the best way to expand upmarket is to do that one step at a time.
- Build your next big product. Your next big product is probably right in front of you. Find it by watching what your customers do, not what they say. Ask yourself: What other important problems do your customers have? Which could you solve well?
- Find product market fit again and again. It is something you need to keep focused on and find over and over, for every set of new target customers you go after, for every new product you want to create and for everything you’ve already created and every customer you already have, every year or two.
- Decide your platform play. We live in a deeply interconnected world. You will never win if you choose to go it alone. Your customers don’t want you to go it alone. They want you to work with all of the other things they already use. As you get bigger the reverse is also true: they want all of the other things they use to work with you.
- Build your team. You can’t do it all yourself. Invest time to build the team to take you to the next level. If you are hiring for a role that you aren’t super familiar with, or at a scale you haven’t been at before, learn and benchmark first. Then apply Lean Startup principles to hiring by putting people in the role. Have them do the job you want them to do for a day. That way, you both know what you are getting into – it is better for you and for them.
Check out the slides from my talk below or on SlideShare:
If you want industry-tested advice for growing your company, especially beyond the first phase, download The Growth Handbook: