What's the hardest thing about building a profitable SAAS?

I've spent many years battling the many challenges of building profitable SAAS apps. So much so that I feel extremely passionate about "building things that help people build things". It's something I want to put all my energy into.

This question is half about putting the feelers out for what we could all build to help one another and half to discuss what the most prevalent challenges exist in building profitable apps in 2021 onwards. So... What do you think the hardest thing about building a SAAS app is today? And how have you overcome such problems?

  1. 5

    I don't think anyone here asking "what to build" has ever worked out.

    I recommend just starting with a problem you have and just ship fast you will run into something.

    1. 1

      Appreciate the honest reply @volkandkaya.

      I suppose it's quite meta of me but I see this as being not so dissimilar to asking an architect what hinders them when building houses. Asking teachers what gets in the way of them helping their pupils. Asking doctors what deviates them away from curing patients. The latter part of my question was to spark conversation and to see what downsides there are to solutions that already exist.

      The truth is I have a lot of ideas to solve problems I have myself. But very few people get things done in a vacuum :) hence my reaching out to the community.

      1. 2

        No problem.

        Maybe ask about specific problems you want to solve instead, see which ones actually get replies (a proxy for people caring).

        I would also look into jobs to be done.

        1. 2

          Jobs to be done is a great recommendation

        2. 1

          "Jobs to be done" looks like a game-changer for me. You've opened my eyes. Appreciate your feedback.

    2. 1

      I seem to talk to so many people who don't have any ideas, and a few people who have too many ideas. It does honestly seem like a superpower to see problems and to come up to the edge of experiences where problems occur. It's not so easy for people to see the problems, or even the path to solutions.

      1. 1

        I think the problem is you can give an idea away but the second you start building you run into into issues and without the reasoning behind it you will get stuck.

  2. 3

    The hard part is to understand what to build. Then, get some traction. For the first part(for the 2nd too), you may use this tool to find out people who talk about problems they face.

    1. 2

      Damn that tool is awesome! Thanks!

  3. 2

    For me it’s definitely handling Customer Acquisition Cost. (CAC) Acquiring customers in a cost effective way is extremely challenging.

    With low cost products <$75 month it’s hell, because you have to have the perfect funnel, with the perfect copy. Even with that it’s hard to keep your ad spend less than your subscription.

    When you have higher priced products, it’s almost worse because you have to have all of that in place, PLUS you have to figure out how to fit a sales reps commission in there.

    If I were to do it again I’d try to start a product that can have a similar pricing to companies like Slack, Notion, or Zoom. These price structures allow you to seem cheap and acquire users without needing sales reps. But yet they have a ton of companies paying them $1000s per month.

    1. 1

      I've read so much "advice" over the years. So much so that it's become a wall of noise (hence my posting on here). I have to say though I can't recall coming across the insight you've just offered up. Thanks for taking the time.

  4. 2

    Before you start building anything:

    • ask your future customers what problems they have,
    • try to solve one problem,
    • present the idea to the customers, ask for their feedback,
    • present them your product before you build it (e.g., wireframes),
    • get their feedback, implement changes to wireframes,
    • ask if they would buy it before you build it,
    • sell it,
    • build the MVP,
    • deliver it.
    1. 1

      This is a great list to follow systematically. Thanks for sharing!

  5. 2

    Finding customers who are suffering enough to pay you an average of $100/mo. for a hacked together product

  6. 2
    • Product: trade-offs between fulfilling customer requests and product innovation
    • Commercial: One challenge I have run into is to decide whether to charge for a (set of) features
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