Everything written here is based on my experience as a SaaS Copywriter who has failed and succeeded in building and scaling products.
It took me quite a while to understand what it takes to make a product-market-fit.
Personally, I don’t directly develop the products, but rather work on the team as a copywriter.
As such, it makes you part of the team, which means you have to put in lots of hours writing and iterating different versions of the copy.
If you've ever launched or developed a product, then you'd know the sleepless nights it takes writing the code and testing it— only for the market to not accept your product.
Yeah... Imagine that.
It brings you to the actualization that you can’t win all the time, but to succeed you need to learn from your losses.
Here are two key problems I found was the reason behind the failed products
With solo-founders, the product is always based on “the idea” that this product is what the market wants.
And, NO, that’s entirely wrong.
You can’t have just an idea of how different people would react.
In my job, I get contacted by solo founders and startups mostly for copy or content.
For startups, the problem wasn’t really about the product or the market itself, positioning and messaging solves most of its issues.
However, solo founders don’t have the luxury of working with a team.
They literally do everything from coding the product itself, designing the website, all down to even marketing itself.
After all, it’s the product of their dreams, funded by their money, paid for by their time.
Due to this, key decisions on the product are made based on bias thoughts and “ideas” of what they feel is right.
This thought process is dangerous and doesn’t take into account if the product fits the market —instead of the founders’ expectations.
Here is the dream killer — the man, the myth, the legend!
Milestones and goals are fundamental to success but all should be based on real results with resources available.
As a solo founder, you shouldn’t put your mind on hitting $100k MRR in 4 months…
What the **** are you thinking?...
And no, I’m not saying it’s not possible, but there’s a saying I came across a while back.. I think on Twitter or something, can't recall.
It goes like this:
“To win, you have to lower the stakes, and increase your odds”.
Instead of $100K MRR, why not focus on getting $1K?
Then move to $3K, and then $5K… it all keeps going until you get to $100K.
Every layer of every single thing built starts with a first layer. So, start with the first layer.
The most painful thing about shutting down a product you’re working on is the time spent on it, and the money wasted.
After a product gets shut down and I talk to the founder, most of the things I hear are:
“If I had spent this time on another product, I’d have done X by now”
“Maybe I should have done this instead”
“Joseph, I felt people needed this, but I don’t understand why we’re not getting customers”
“We checked all the boxes in the growth-hack playbook, where did we go wrong?”
And it keeps on…
But just like with every problem, the solution goes back to its root.
If the root is bad, sooner all later, what was built on it will have to come down at one point.
Here’s one thing you should know, the market is NEVER wrong.
They tell you what they want, and respond to you based on how you listen.
If your product solves the problem, they WILL pay for your services.
So, what should you do in developing your next SaaS product to reduce to chances of failure?
Ask the market what they want!
Before you spend hours writing a single line of code on that computer of yours, let the market guide you.
Here’s a roadmap to help you out:
Do your research in Identifying a problem in the market, and the audience facing that problem.
A place like Indie Hacker, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Discord Groups, and literally any public forum should get you started.
After your market research, draft a working solution that your product can solve.
And, no you don’t have a product… at least yet, but simply putting into reality how a probable solution solves the problem in that market.
Now you know how where your audience hangout, your approach is to analyze your audience through a quantifiable survey —NOT just an idea.
Don’t get the thought of " this is what they want", run a survey and let them speak for themselves.
There are different forms online to get you started in your survey, Google forms and Typeform are my personal favorite.
I love the Typeform interface though.
After running your survey, collate the results and see where you stand.
Here is where it gets interesting, and where you can start to code your SaaS product —but not fully developed.
Don't rush buddy, pump the brakes
Your market survey already gave you an idea of where your audience’s heads at; which means you can see how they’d react.
Gather people who have shown interest in your proposed solution (beta testers)—don’t use friends or families, they would hardly tell you if your product sucks or not.
Launch a mockup of your product to those beta testers, not everybody.
Using the language, this stage is called an “MVP” —Minimum Viable Product.
Note down the reviews of your beta testers and move to the next step.
Why I disagree with launching for everybody is because launching your product to everybody defies the purpose of your survey and changes your product direction.
Using both your earlier survey of the market and reviews from the testers, readjust your solution but don’t deviate from your main plan.
It’s good to listen to the market, don’t get me wrong.
But it should be based on quantifiable data of what a high percentage of the market wants — not due to a single person or a small percentage of individuals throwing tantrums on what they want.
Run another survey on your audience, but this time it’s based on your pre-adjusted solution.
Account for one thing in this survey, audience behavior.
Audience behavior in this scenario is how your audience interacted with certain changes made to your proposed adjusted solution.
Take note of how they also responded to it.
After this, compare the results of your first and second market analysis to identify the stages each of your prospects are in.
You shouldn’t expect your prospects to be at the same stage.
Some will be at the top of the funnel, some in the middle, and others in the last.
But what remains constant is that there’s a need to tackle every stage of interaction and to do this you need to create a customer profile for each.
With your data, developing the full product is your next item on the list.
This guides you and takes the guesswork out of your whole plan.
It’s no longer “I feel/think this is the solution the market wants” but rather, “This is what our audience facing the problems want to be solved and here’s how they want it”.
As you go on, you keep taking feedbacks and improve your product to fit the market wants.
If your product doesn’t hit all of these, I don’t advise going all out and spending time and money on it.
Oh wow, this was longer than I expected. If perhaps you have any questions, i'd be happy to answer them in the comments.