A fresh perspective on the stages of building a SaaS business

March 17, 2021

EP4: Why, why why? Why start this podcast, Why SaaS, Why not other types of businesses?

Today Josh and Nate get into a lot of whys. Why did they start this podcast? And why is SaaS for them and why not other indie types of businesses?
Searching For SaaS
Searching For SaaS
EP4: Why, why why? Why start this podcast, Why SaaS, Why not other types of businesses?



Nate: [00:00:00] Today Josh and I get into a lot of whys. Why did we start our podcast? And why is SAS for us and why not other indie types of businesses?
Josh: [00:00:40] Hey, Nate, how are you doing today?
Nate: [00:00:42] Doing good. How are you?
Josh: [00:00:44] Good. So , We kind of launched our podcast a little accidentally. Do you want to tell a little bit about what happened?
Nate: [00:00:52] Well, Josh accidentally mentioned it in our group of friends and so they all found out about it and then our friends are awesome. So they told everyone else about it on Twitter. And so now everyone else, we have a podcast.
Josh: [00:01:07] Yeah. I think our intention was to have at least maybe three or four episodes. I think we wanted to. Try this out a bit. We were tinkering with the post-production things. Josh got a mic,
Nate: [00:01:21] Yeah. Sounds way better. Way better.
Josh: [00:01:23] yeah. Sounds as good as yours does or at least I hope since you recommended it. So,
Nate: [00:01:28] Well, we have the same mic, so it’d be pretty bad if these sounded different.
Josh: [00:01:33] So what I wanted to cover a little bit today is, is some of these why’s and I think the first one is kind of like. Why did we start a podcast? I think this was a good one, given that now everyone sees where we’re out there. What, what our intent is.
Nate: [00:01:48] Yeah, so we were talking anyways about business ideas and stuff, and it’s like, Oh, wow. Why not record it. And at least other people could maybe benefit from it. And it’ll force us to dig a little deeper into some of the things we talked.
Josh: [00:02:02] So I think when we first started talking about it, we did have a little conversation on, what we wanted to gain out of this. Maybe you can go a little bit about what’s the best case scenario out of out of us in this podcast for you.
Nate: [00:02:16] Yeah, so I’m just trying to figure out the whole startup. Landscaping and how to go about things. And it’s a whole new world for me, just, I feel a little bit overwhelmed by all the things going on. And so for me, if, these discussions help me to learn more into share more than like, I think that’s, that’s the biggest win that it could be for me.
And I guess in terms of, in terms of fears, like just talking in public can be a little. Scary. Sometimes just, you wonder how people will, will take the things that you say or, you know, it’d be like, Oh, well that was a dumb mistake. And you’re like, yeah, I didn’t want to tell the world that, but, okay.
And what about for you? What did you hope to get out of it? Like what could be the best things for you in the worst?
Josh: [00:03:02] Well, I would say I’ve, I’ve wanted to start a podcast for a while and probably trying to understand my motivations of that. I’m not quite exactly sure. But I thought it would be a good way to practice my speaking in a more concise and hopefully succinct manner. So hopefully that’ll evolve over time.
Nate: [00:03:22] Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think we’ve been making good progress on that already. Okay.
Josh: [00:03:27] Yeah. My biggest fear out of that is kind of the flip side that it doesn’t progress and maybe it gets worse. Maybe now you put a mic and now I’m a diva and now I can’t stop talking and I think As our friend Colleen mentioned she laughed out loud when I mentioned my fear of Josh splaining. So that’s probably my biggest fear out of any of this is that, you know, there’s, there’s way too much Josh.
Nate: [00:03:51] Oh, there’s always post-production for that.
Josh: [00:03:55] Cool. , so that’s why we started this, but what are you, what are you hoping that our audience gets out of this?
Nate: [00:04:02] I’m hoping that people find it entertaining at least to listen to it the, at the minimum. And I think for the other folks who are out there trying to get something off the ground or have ideas and they just want to. Take their first steps. I hope that this is a way that they can kind of see our experiences and learn from them.
They can avoid our mistakes hopefully. And yeah, hopefully there’ll be better off for it.
Josh: [00:04:26] Yeah. I think that’s a big goal I have for you. I know that one of your goals out of this was to learn more about this and if I can help. Make your sass dreams come true. That would be enough for me. And, and again, if it, out of the audience, if hearing some of these conversations helps either people realize we’re just as smart or just as dumb as they are. I think that would be a, you know, a good thing for the world.
Nate: [00:04:51] Yeah, totally. We are. We’re all in this together.
Josh: [00:04:54] Cool. Well I did want to get a little bit into our second, why, which heavily relates to our podcast title . So we now have to talk about SAS. So why don’t we start with that and why SAS as a business model for you, Nate?
Nate: [00:05:11] I think that’s a big question. It’s probably a little bit emotional, but I think you can kind of take it from a bunch of different angles. Like there’s kind of the, the lifestyle side of it. The what do I like to do for work part of it? The, the security and the, the pricing structures and stuff like that.
Josh: [00:05:28] Wait, wait, look like I told them. So let’s , walk back a couple of steps. So you said. The lifestyle. Let’s, let’s dig into that a bit . What do you imagine out of the SAS, the SAS lifestyle? .
Nate: [00:05:38] I think what I would appreciate it to that is the the there’s more flexibility in terms of when you need to work. Like what sorts of hours you need to hold when you can go on vacation? Yeah, just because your, your customers are on a recurring basis. And so that income is continuing to come in, whether you’re actively pushing on it or not.
And yeah, you can set up a model where your customers aren’t as reliant on you being there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Josh: [00:06:04] as such, so no more, just a clock, an hours for dollars. Is that what you’re saying? And, and
Nate: [00:06:09] I guess there’s that? That’s in there too, right? Like the. You’re not trading time for money. That’s the one part. And then the other part is also how reliant your customers are on you being available all the time.
Josh: [00:06:21] Right. So it’s also like your mind share. You currently do consulting. So your clients are dependent on you for things and maybe are even on call for their servers or different things. And your, your time is not always your own.
Is that, would that be an accurate
Nate: [00:06:36] exactly. Yeah. I feel like when you have your own SAS, you’re kind of you’re your own boss in a way. Whereas when you’re consulting you, you are your own boss, but you are still working for someone else and they are sort of your boss in a way.
Josh: [00:06:49] All right. All right. I’ll I’ll, I’ll take that. I would counter with that a little bit in terms of. This, the SAS will own you, but we’ll get into that another day. But yes I think I agree in the, in the lifestyle, technically that yes, you will be able to do that. Now whether the SAS pulls you in and where you end up in the undertow, so to speak might be a different, a different conversation.
Nate: [00:07:11] Yeah.
Josh: [00:07:11] But you brought, you went into another one. So you also said Like your skill set. Right? So so you’re a developer, so there are other directions you could go as a indie make your own way in the world type of thing.
Nowadays is bigger than ever being a creator, being a maker, doing courses, doing info products, being a YouTube star, none of that is in the cards for you.
Nate: [00:07:35] No, I, I guess I just don’t find, and those other things as appealing when I picture a happy afternoon of a work, I picture code and user interfaces and, optimizing that for people that I care about, right? Like when you’re building, you’re building a software as a service it’s, you’re, you’re serving these customers and you’re, you’re making their experience better. And if I can. If I can do that with code that just, that just makes me happy.
Josh: [00:08:04] okay. So it’s like you’ve built a system that now , saves people. Time, saves people money , solves a pain point, solves a problem. And. It lives on a server. For the most part, doesn’t require your time. You’re not like on a, on a bike sitting there, you know, turning wheels to keep the power on or anything like that is you built something that is a value in withstanding.
Nate: [00:08:24] And I think that the other content type businesses. I think they’re just the dynamics of how you build it and how you maintain it are different, right? Like with content, I know a lot of people do courses or books and that’s like a ton of upfront work.
Doesn’t see the light of day. And then all of a sudden boom switches on and people are either buying it or not. And then it kind of trickles out from there and it just becomes kind of a marketing game, at least in my perspective.
Josh: [00:08:50] Huh? Yeah, I think so. I think it’s probably not too bad. I would think. Cause I I’d have seen people do courses where they might only record out the first like two or three and then they kind of launch and there, they kind of set a hook in for themselves so that, Hey, if I get this many or this many people do it I’ll be on the hook and feel obligated to finish the other six, six segments or so.
Nate: [00:09:15] Yeah, I guess that makes sense. But I think that one of the differences is that with SAS, it’s like you’re providing like an ongoing benefit to your customers and you’re able to tweak that, that experience as you get feedback while you’re moving forward, as opposed to. Kind of, it’s either a, one-shot where people go through your course content once.
Or you’re not able to edit it very easily. Like for instance, you put up a YouTube video it’s more difficult to, you know, retake a section of it and try and edit it or something like that.
Josh: [00:09:45] right. But what about the level of effort for any of these like a potential SAS endeavor as you’ve been burned before spending months or even a year of total time. Where, you know, possibly a course could have been, you know, It’d be a couple months of effort or a couple of weeks, something like that.
Like you could do it and then definitely, probably more bite-sized chunks.
Nate: [00:10:06] Yeah, but that is true. Initially when you said, Oh, Hey, you should do some content. I was like, no, like I don’t do content. That’s not me. And I think I’m, I’m slowly getting to the point where it’s like, No, I just prefer to do SAS. It’s not that I, you know, the other things are so bad.
Josh: [00:10:25] Okay. Yeah. I mean, I’m not, I’m not going to try to really convince you to do content. Although I would argue at some point when you have a SAS that you’re going to have to do all of it in some way, shape or form, um, you know and Hey, well actually, if anything, you know this experience with this podcast, I mean, this is much more like content right now you’re getting your toes dipped into content creator world here with our podcast.
Nate: [00:10:50] Yeah.
Josh: [00:10:52] So I think we covered the big Ys on the podcast. We covered a lot of the why’s on, on SAS. I guess kind of wrapping up a little bit on the SAS front. What, what does, successful SAS look like to you? Like let’s say everything we’re doing in this podcast goes well and we’re we go through some ideation, we go through some validation.
We go through getting first customers and we get you off the ground somewhere. What does success look like for you? What is, what does that look like from that perch for you?
Nate: [00:11:22] I think the first kind of goal is to have customers who really do care about a piece of software that I’ve built that they’re willing to pay for it. Like it’s, it’s worth it for them to use you use my software. And I think there’s a lot of fulfillment that comes out of that. I think that’s goal number one.
And then goal number two is to kind of ramp that up to the point where it’s able to sustain me, working on it. Full-time and at that point, whether it stays at me and that’s, it it’s fine. Or if the market needs more people to support it, then if I can grow that out to the point that it’s you know, a stable, stable company, that’s got all the things that people want.
Josh: [00:12:03] okay. So that’s interesting. Cause I, I would say, you know, there’s definitely entrepreneurs out there with, with the SAS- indie /maker mindset and any one of these little values that drive, you might be different, right? Like you mentioned the one about, Hey, if it takes. More employees or a bigger team or other things like I’m happy to kind of let, let the SAS and the market and the customers essentially more dictate the model.
Nate: [00:12:34] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I’m flexible. However, that goes. And I think that that kind of makes it easier to choose a software to build because there’s more range of opportunities that I think.
Josh: [00:12:48] right. Cause you talked about lifestyle design, which was interesting because I think there’s entrepreneurs that might look for ideas purely that. They don’t ever want to grow past one or two people. I think a lot of people have a knee jerk reaction at times. And a lot of people go into indie businesses, SAS, businesses, with the dream of lifestyle of freedom and of, making at least their income, if not more and, and not be capped on the upside potentially, but then there also may not be willing to go and re up and say, now I need to hire people. And now I need to manage people. A lot of people don’t like that and that’s almost sudden oftentimes a reason to go on your own.
Nate: [00:13:31] Yeah. Yeah. I think people can dislike having management and stuff like that. And, you know, they could be frustrated , with dealing with people in an organization and they can kind of react in that way. I don’t particularly feel that way. Maybe I did when I first quit my job, but yeah.
Josh: [00:13:45] have you managed people before or have had a lot of bosses and things like that?
Nate: [00:13:49] Yeah. Th my story is actually quite similar to yours in the sense that I worked at another software company before, and I started as a junior developer there and kind of moved up the ladder to managing, I think I had four or five people there that I was managing. And then as part of my consulting engagements, I’ve managed a number of teams with that.
And yeah, I don’t mind it. I think it’s, I think it’s kind of fun and in some respects but I also enjoy working by myself. I think I like both.
Josh: [00:14:14] Okay. Okay. But that, yeah, that’s interesting. I’m glad to hear that, that, that won’t be a constraint within you searching for a SAS idea. So yeah, I just probably want to close a little bit with, People talk about like all the good ideas are taken in SAS and all these things like that.
And I mean, I’d probably just close with just saying, I think , now more than ever is the best time for a SAS? What’s that old proverb, have you ever heard the one where it said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is now. So,
Nate: [00:14:47] Yeah. I think people often. Feel like all the ideas are taken because you see how many new ideas people come up with. Or you see how much effort it is to come up with something new. And yeah, I, I know at times I feel discouraged that way, but.
Josh: [00:15:02] Or they see, they see all the things and they’re like, Oh, I thought of that. Or I couldn’t have think of that. But yeah, I think the biggest part that I would say on that one is it’s all iterative I think a lot of the SAS ideas now are built upon. Previous winners or previous markets that grew out of things.
So I feel like it’s continuously changing over time, you know, what is a S a good SAS idea today? Obviously, you’re not going to see that, that come to fruition for, another, another couple of years. But yeah, I think a good way is just, hopefully we’ll get you there. Hopefully we’ll find a, an idea and start, start your S your tree planted.
Nate: [00:15:38] Yeah. Yeah, I think so.