Being part of a startup is like driving over the speed limit for a destination you can’t wait to get to. Things move quickly, excitement’s contagious, and momentum builds with every achievement.
But having that kind of growth, especially when your teams are spread out across geographies and working remotely, can feel… daunting. For SaaS (software-as-a-service) startups, it’s a race to see who can develop and commercialize their tech first before potential customers sign their loyalty away to other startups on the rise.
Speed is of course a major factor in winning the race, but so is product excellence, a happy workforce, and the aspiration to pull it all off.
Without a core set of purpose-chosen tools though, margins leak, and work gets disorganized.
One of the great things about being an early-stage business is that you’re not tied down. Literally, you can try out a tool for a week and if it doesn’t work as expected, you can move on from your free trial and sign up with something else.
Fortunately, with hundreds of early-stage businesses that’ve trialed our communications tool and stayed for good, we’ve learned the ins and outs of what makes a great tool for startups.
How to choose SaaS tools for a startup
Startups can operate like a large company can’t—with agility and at a second’s notice. But, that also comes with a few challenges as well. While there’s flexibility to bend and adapt to changing environments without a lot of bureaucracy in the way, resources can be limited. So, you’ll want to minimize spend on things that aren’t going to stick around.
Here are a couple things to look out for when searching for your next set of tools to adopt:
Start small, scale up
Every entrepreneur is thinking about the same thing—how do I get to scale? And, once business starts taking off, how do I make sure I have enough resources available to support the expansion?
As a startup, you don’t need the biggest and baddest tool out there. You need something that can get the job done today while having the potential to scale with you as you grow in customers, numbers, and people tomorrow.
When we say biggest and baddest tool, we mean:
- Enterprise-level software with top-of-the-line security measures
- Software with a backend that doesn’t require a large team to run or maintain
- Software with every feature and functionality under the sun you can wish for
When we say something that can get the job done today, we mean:
- Software that meets official business requirements and security and compliance standards
- Software that’s easy to install and can be up and running within a few days (max)
- Software with specific features that will solve current gaps in your workflow today
Try before you buy
Use your agility to your advantage. Don’t bog yourself down with a tool that you have to commit to straight away.
If you’re in the process of raising capital or going through a high burn rate, the last thing you want to do is create unnecessary spend. There’s often uncertainties during the early stages of validating your services and establishing price points. That’s why having a “go with the flow” mindset can serve as an advantage during these times.
Avoid getting locked in to a recurring pricing model early on or signing long-term contracts for services you should mostly just be testing during your early stages.
The freemium model is no doubt something that you’ve come across before. Lots of tools online (maybe even yours) offer either a free trial period or a free plan you can use to familiarize yourself with what’s offered before handing over any money.
For instance, at RingCentral we offer a 15-day free trial for full use of our all-in-one communication platform with up to five users at once:
Part of looking for the right tool is choosing pricing that fits with your demand.
Some tools charge a flat annual fee regardless of how big your business is. Others charge per team or per user. Or, like our example above, pricing is based on tiers of services you get access to.
Find a model that makes sense for you and avoid spending on (the biggest and baddest) tools that are meant to be used by large enterprises or corporations. – Read more
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