5 Essential Steps to Save Your SaaS Product From Failure

Aug 22, 2023 - 4 min read
5 Essential Steps to Save Your SaaS Product From Failure

In my experience helping numerous SaaS businesses develop their products and achieving product/market fit, I found five essential steps to make a product successful.

And following them in the order they are laid out is important.

Here they are.

Here's a video version of this article if you prefer to watch instead.

Step #1: Establish who your customer is

One of the best ways to create a winning product is to make it address a very narrow problem, but do it exceptionally well.

If you do that, it's impossible not to win.

The better you execute the solution (i.e., your product), the more likely it is you're going to be successful.

But to create an exceptionally good product, you cannot make it generic. Because the broader you go, the more problems you're trying to solve, and the more likely you are to be average at it.

And "better" means different things to different people. So you can only make a product better in the eyes of a specific person.

That is why you need to establish who that person is from the beginning.

And then, you'll want to know what is it that they desire.

Step #2: Find out what your customers desire the most

In general, successful products channel existing desire. They rarely create new desires.

In other words, people will buy the products that help them achieve a desired outcome.

They want to be successful, healthy, loved, etc. These are universal desires that all humans have.

And there are many ways in which they fulfill those desires.

For example, to become healthy, some people want to get fit, others want to eat better, and so on.

To be successful, some people climb up the corporate ladder, others build their own business.

The point is people already have desires.

But they also face obstacles that prevent them from achieving their desires.

Taking one of the examples above, one might want to get fit, but he (or she) doesn't know how. That's a problem.

Step #3: Identify the problem

As mentioned before, problems stem from a desire.

Someone is on their path to achieving one of their desired outcomes, and they face an obstacle.

Your goal is to figure out what those obstacles are, based on their desired outcome, and establish which one of them is worth paying to overcome.

To continue with our previous example, not knowing how to get fit is one of the problems that people might face on their path to achieving their desired outcome.

But there are many more problems. Here are a few examples:

  • Dieting
    • What foods to eat
    • How to count calories
    • Which diet works faster
  • Exercise
    • Which one works best for their body type
    • How to protect their joints
    • Where to find the best trainers

The list goes on and on. That's why the fitness industry is worth almost $100 billion.

Step #4: Uncover the best product idea

Now you see how there's an endless list of problems for every human desire, but how do you know what product to build?

Well, my favorite way is to look at existing products that address the same desire you're looking to address.

Because if there are products out there that solve a problem, it means people are already paying to fix it.

It's almost like skipping the idea validation step.

You can figure out what to build by looking at product reviews.

For every product out there, there will be a part of the market that is not happy with it. And many of them share their frustrations in the product's reviews section.

Just go to amazon.com and see for yourself.

You can take these complaints and build a better product.

Step #5: Get more customers

So now you have a product that solves problem for a particular mass-market desire, but how do you find people to sell it to.

Well, the good part is you know exactly who your customer is, so you can focus all your efforts on finding people that match your target customer's profile.

And you can do that either by reaching out to your contacts, posting content online, reaching out to strangers, or using paid advertising.

Each one of those tactics will require a little bit of skill to master, but it's something that you can learn.

You'll want to prove your product is worth buying by offering a valuable free trial period or a limited account.

People will judge your product based on how good (or bad) this free trial is. So make sure you're giving away a lot of value by solving one significant chunk of the problem.

Idea Validation Playbook
Cezar Halmagean
Software development consultant with over a decade of experience in helping growing companies scale large Ruby on Rails applications. Has written about the process of building Ruby on Rails applications in RubyWeekly, SemaphoreCI, and Foundr.