July 11, 2018

Fear of technical issues is holding back my SaaS launch

I've been working on a SaaS product for well over a year now without releasing it. I'm nervous about launching for a few reasons:

  1. Once I start storing customer data and taking payments, it's an order of magnitude more difficult to make changes like if I want to change my payment provider, what database I use, the authentication approach or the cloud infrastructure I'm using. I worry about the headache of migrating data or other changes and where a mistake could cause all paying customers to get locked out.

  2. I feel like if I make a mistake, I'll get swamped with support issues I won't be able to keep up with. I'm aiming to have several thousand customers so if just a few hundred try to email me while I'm dealing with technical issues I'm not sure how to cope.

For 1, I guess I need to do more manual testing, automated testing and use staging environments before I make changes. I'm already feeling embarrassed about how long I've spent on this project already and even more testing will take even more time before I know I'm going to make any money from it yet. I'm not really sure what to do about 2 except create support forms that automatically respond to problems that I could expect to happen.

Does anyone have any advice how to get over this mental block? When you launched, did you worry about similar things? How did it work out?

  1. 7

    In the nicest possible way.... worry about getting 1 customer before worrying about getting thousands.

  2. 5

    To paraphrase Ted Mosby, "Sounds like a problem for Future indiehacker234234234 to solve." I literally tell this to myself every day.

  3. 4

    Don't even worry about it.

    Yes, have a staging environment that you test changes in before pushing them to production. But I'd say that's about the extent of it. With something like mailchimp you can import a list of email addresses right? So if something does happen you can import your list of customer emails into there and you can send out a mass email to say you're working on it and when to expect resolution.

    Just don't stress about it. Especially before it's ever even happened once. Then if it ever does happen ask for advice at the time. Then once you've been through it once you'll think why was I ever worried about that it wasn't really a huge deal?

  4. 3

    Just. Ship. It.

    You can fix things when you have someone paying you to fix them.

    This is a really common act of self sabotage. Your brain wants you to be safe and will undermine your efforts to put something into the world that has the potential to be criticized (or worse, ignored.)

    You'll have to get over that hump one way or another. Better to do it as soon as possible. There's just no other way to say it, just ship it. Tonight. The sun will rise in the morning, I promise.

    PS - The reality is that you will have to have a personal relationship with your first few customers. If you mess something up, folks are much more friendly than you think when you're talking to someone directly. And if you piss them off and they leave, well, you're in the same exact spot as you are now, but now you have customer feedback.

    Seriously. Ship it tonight and send us all a link!

    1. 1

      Thanks. I'm aware it's a hump and self sabotage. The replies here are helping! The time I've spend on the app already makes it worse. The longer I take, the most successful I feels it needs to be which makes me want to perfect it more....vicious cycle. I need to stop be a perfectionist and release.

      1. 1

        Perfect for you is not perfect for your customers. Let them tell you what they want. There's only one way to let them do that ....

      2. 1

        Too many feels. Send a link 😀

  5. 2

    Oh, man dude. Don't worry about that yet.

    For starters, this may not even be an issue if people don't like your product, and that would be a real issue to worry about.

    Your current concerns are scaling related. Too early to worry about scaling issues.

    First get the users and in parallel work on making your SaaS scalable.

  6. 2

    After you launch, you will wish you had hundreds of support issues or users you have to worry about frustrating with changes to your architecture! These are not your big enemies. Apathy from potential customers is your big enemy.

  7. 2

    I understand your feeling about migrating, authentication, payments etc. But shipping does change priorities sometimes and can help focusing on the important things. Many SaaS start with a very few users and have trouble to get traction. So it should take you a while to get thousands of customers.

  8. 2

    The problems you're afraid of are good problems to have! They are still problems, yes, but they are indicators of growth. It is okay to feel the pain. Pain is what drives us to better solutions. For example, if you feel the pain of a customer support request backlog, it's going to drive you to hire a customer support specialist and to solve the top priority issues coming in.

    It'll be fine. Launches are messy by nature and you sound prepared. Launch it and deal with the fallout.

    Separately, I run a software dev shop. We've helped many , many entrepreneurs through critical launches. If you want to talk about keeping us on deck for backup, hit me up: for a quick chat: https://calendly.com/josh-jordan/15min

  9. 1

    You will be pleasantly surprised by how receptive users are to a quick bug-fix, even for apps they have paid thousands for. They're a pretty understanding lot, generally.

    I hooked up Sentry to my desktop apps so I know about a bug straight away. If they're a licensed user I have their email address so I tell them what happened, any temporary workarounds, and when they can expect a fix, usually in a day or so. Then I follow up with the download link when I ship the new version. They never get that from most software vendors, especially the big ones. Bugs are your chance to delight them with awesome customer service.

  10. 1

    Hi, first congrats on your hard work! It's very common to feel the fear of launch for sure but the worst thing you can do is to delay it constantly and be burned mentally and financially. What you feel is also know as a trap of premature optimisation. I would suggest to soft launch as quickly as possible for a small amount of beta customers and establish the prod code base/pipeline for CD. Then gradually add customers to your bucket. If you'll run in any big tech problems you would able to fix them on the early stage. Good luck!

  11. 1

    Absolutely just ship it. Get customers.

    Besides, the best part of executing your plan is creating new (good) problems. If you’re not creating new problems, you’re not working hard enough. :)

  12. 1

    I find that this mental block comes with my time limitations. It usually appears when I'm not confident I'll find enough time in my day to properly resolve issues.

    One thing that I've found helps me get through this hump is actually finding a partner for the project. We can divide and conquer workloads, which makes it a much easier pill to swallow.

    I actually built http://www.githustle.com to try and help us all out with finding sales/marketing partners that can drive the growth while we focus on the tech. Working out well so far!

    1. 1

      My problem is that I've actually got lots of time to work on this, avoid it because I don't want to face the final decision making and coding, then feel awful I've wasted so much time.

  13. 1

    You should not worry that much about every scenarios which could occur.

    Just do it, release it.

    When you release you will find many things which must be improved anyway.

    You will have very few users so even if you have an issue, only few people will see it.

  14. 1

    My project https://mentorcruise.com is also using an interesting payment structure (subscription, splitted 15/85 between user and platform), so (1) was a huge concern for me too.

    Payment is something you should test for sure. But usually it is enough to just check the basics (does it work to pay, what if I cancel, ..) in a staging environment and that's it. Literally done in 1-2h.

    The rest - don't worry. Getting a lot of support tickets at least means that people are using your app and care about it, which is a good sign. You'll make mistakes and learn from them. It's normal to be scared, but set yourself a goal to launch this weekend and just do it.

    1. 3

      I love the reframe there! Lots of support tickets == good problem to have. Sometimes it's just about tweaking your psychology to make situations work for you rather than against.

    2. 1

      Can I ask how you did payments in 1 to 2 hours when you've got a complex payment structure? I've been researching and prototyping payments for weeks.

      1. 1

        Also, don't worry about payments too early. I ran a business for 3 years and I didn't so much as have an update card form on my site. I just called folks up when/if their card failed and put a link to a calendly call to update billing info over the phone. Not one complaint.

        That is to say, in the early days these things can be hacked together with duct tape. And only when that duct tape causes problems should you worry about fixing it.

      2. 1

        He's just talking about testing payment scenarios in a staging environment, not the time taken to implement them. It is fairly fast to just test that with Stripe at least.

        1. 1

          Yes exactly. I think I got the initial payment system down in a little over a week (have to use paypal unfortunately). I did invest a lot of time in testing it, but if there are no issues 1-2 hours should be enough to verify that everything is right.

          That being said, I don't run an SaaS. My payment is recurring, assigned to a user and I need to do multi-party payouts. For a SaaS it should be a breeze with Stripe.