Brian Casel
Brian Casel

Falling Behind, On Schedule

by Brian Casel · Subscribe

When you’re rolling out a new software product (SaaS in particular), an interesting challenge emerges, seemingly all of a sudden.

I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing this.  It goes something like this

For months you’re on a calm, steady, methodic work trajectory.  Research… Build… Research more… Build more… Until you’ve built enough product that you’re able to invite the first users and (hopefully) see the first paying customers.

That’s the point where things get interesting (read: Hard!).  That’s when you’re suddenly behind on everything.

The product needs more features and iteration.

The marketing site isn’t finished.

You haven’t implemented a customer onboarding process.

You’re fielding support requests from first users.

You’re scheduling customer research calls while you chase product-market-fit.

You need to write documentation so your first users can find answers quickly.

You should be testing marketing channels and doing outreach to find more customers to talk to.

…All at the same time!  (if only that was possible)

Could you have done more, sooner?

I don’t think so.

You might convince yourself that you should have had the wheels turning on these things ahead of time.  That you could have delegated more of that work.  That your SaaS product business could have been firing on all cylinders on the day you’ve launched.

You’d be wrong.

A)  Building a software product from zero to one—even an early first version—is just too much work.  You simply wouldn’t get to “beta” if you have other projects running simultaneously.

B)  Even if you had the team and resources to “prepare” your SaaS company’s machinery ahead of time, it would have been a massive wasted effort.  Everything changes—and changes fast—during those early weeks on the market.  Your product, your positioning, your target customer, your processes.  All of it is in flux.

Pre-launch customer research only gives you hints at your initial direction.  Even pre-selling the idea of your product to early adopters isn’t fool-proof.

It’s not until real users are faced with the choice of whether to actively adopt, pay and keep paying for your product that you’ll truly learn what’s what.

Prioritizing when everything is a priority

Prioritizing was so easy when you were pre-launch.  You couldn’t start building until you talked to potential customers.  You couldn’t talk to customers until you had a landing page to collect their email addresses.  You couldn’t build feature B until you’ve built feature A.

Now that you’re in go-to-market mode, everything needs to be in motion at the same time.  You feel hampered on multiple fronts.  Yet you’re still strapped for time, cash, and resources.

The only thing you can do is make hard decisions and trade-offs.

Work on adding value to the product, while your marketing site design takes a back seat.

Spend a few days writing documentation for the features you have, but new features work has to wait until next week.

Book as many customer calls as possible in your chase for product-market-fit, which fills your calendar with appointments and prevents you from any long deep-work sessions that you’d rather sink into.

It’s challenging.  It’s frustrating.  It’s slow.  It’s not always fun.

Welcome to launching a SaaS.  You’re right on schedule.