Top 3 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Working in the SaaS Industryby@nethunt
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Top 3 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Working in the SaaS Industry

by Andrei PetrikAugust 21st, 2022
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The CEO of NetHunt CRM talks about the lessons learned in the SaaS industry. He says development takes longer than you think in a business - and business perfection is not possible. Leadership comes in different forms and can be technical, authoritarian, democratic and sharing leadership equally equally equally. The other kinds of leadership are more secondary and even necessary in this industry, not even necessary. Find out what to expect, what to do, and what to avoid, and how to avoid in this article.
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After 6 years as the CEO of NetHunt CRM and several years in the SaaS industry before that, I can now talk about the important lessons this industry has taught me.

The Long and Winding Road - it’s one of my favorite songs.

It’s also how I’d describe this journey I’ve been on in the SaaS industry. SaaS is so new and rapidly growing that it was hard to know what to expect at the start of my journey. I didn’t know which obstacles I faced, where to focus my time and energy, or even where to start. As a result, the vision I held at that road's start is much different from what I see in front of me now.

If you’re starting a SaaS journey, you might want to know what’s coming next. Find out what to expect, what to do, and what to avoid. If you, like me, have already embarked on your journey, this article might be interesting to compare and contrast.

After all, no two businesses are the same - especially in SaaS. We’ve all got something to learn from and teach each other.

Things take a long time

Development takes longer than you think in a SaaS business. Much longer.

This runs parallel with anything in life - from how long the kettle is to boil to how long it takes to buy a house, pack up all your stuff, and move. You imagine you’ll be sitting with a hot brew in your hands in seconds; you imagine yourself, with that brew, in your brand new house after just a couple of weeks.

I imagined we’d be an established business by now. Fast forward six years and ask me what an established business is… and I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

I wonder whether Bezos considers his an established business or Steve Jobs ever considered the job done. As soon as you think that you have finally achieved that perfect product-market fit, the industry changes. Something happens, and the market changes, taking user demands with it. Before you know it, you’re searching for that product-market fit once again.

I started looking at my business journey as a circle rather than a straight line. I go through cycles - quarters or years, whatever. When I get back on top of the circle, I can reflect on what I’ve learned and completed. Whether this analysis is conducted qualitatively or quantitatively doesn’t matter. What matters is that I take that analysis and those lessons into the next cycle of my business journey and use them to improve, develop, and grow my product and business.

Lesson learned: Business perfection is not possible.

Leadership comes in different forms

I had an interesting conversation with the editor of our marketing department recently. He told me that he wasn’t a leader. But don’t worry, he also told me he didn’t necessarily want to be a leader.

“If there are so many leaders in the world, then there aren’t any followers left to lead.”

No. I told him that he was a leader. Leaders can lead other leaders because leadership comes in different forms.

His passion is his leadership, and people follow and listen to him because he’s good at what he does. They want to learn from him. In this sense, I see our editor and myself as technical leaders.

I’m a technical guy. I have the skills and experience in programming to gather people around me and tell them what to do or how to do something - because I know. People tend to stick to me because I’ve filtered out all the bad, useless information over the years and figured out what works.

Alternatively, you could be a leader who stands at the front of your group, banging a drum or waving a flag; an emotional leader. You can motivate people by lighting a fire inside them, slapping them across the face, and shaking their shoulders, telling them they’re going to win.

You could be an authoritarian leader, leading with an iron fist. Contrarily, you could be a democratic leader, leading by unity, dignity, and sharing leadership equally.

As I see it, SaaS businesses need a lot of technology leaders if they want to develop and grow. The other kinds of leadership are more secondary and, in this industry, not even necessary.

Lesson learned: Look beyond somebody’s charisma to find leadership.

Money’s not as important as you think

Yep, we can all say that we designed and developed our product driven by the desire to meet the needs of our people. We can say that we’re driven by a passion, an obsession, with our industry and product, and we will stop at nothing until our obsession is quenched.

That’s true, but there’s always that one thing at the back of your mind. Money.

First of all, if money seems like an obstacle in the way of your SaaS business, don’t let it be.

Look at how easy it is right now to build technology. It’s cheap to start earning money, even if you’re not a programmer. We don’t need a big office with computers and huge servers, everybody has a laptop, and you can do a lot of the back office on your phone. When we started seven years ago, there wasn’t the technology we have now. Technology has grown, breeding new technology.

It’s become self-sustainable - a living breathing thing as we build new technology with old.

I’d go even further by saying don’t chase money straight away. Outside investment sounds like a good idea until you’ve spent all the money and given away part of your soul. Your startup journey's earliest and early stages should be organic and product-focused.

You’re aiming to make this super cool product with all these super cool features, but that doesn’t happen overnight. It certainly doesn’t happen if you just throw money at it.

Scaling your SaaS business means scaling your product, sales, and marketing activities at the same time. That means growing them in a responsible, cost-effective, and reasonable manner.

Imagine you’re a barber, and some millionaire walks into your salon and offers you millions. Great. Take it, buy a new shop, buy all the fanciest equipment possible, hire a few barbers quickly, run ads, flyers, and whatever else to get the name out. Start making money fast, right?


They’re queuing out the door because of your irresponsible marketing. Your product stinks; the guys cutting the hair are struggling with their new equipment; you didn’t take the time to find the right barbers. You stretch resources between your two stores, and they collapse before long. Nice one.

Lesson learned: Work now, money later.