Growing a successful software product

Photo by Alexander Osterwalder  – CC BY-SA

It seems like everyone has ideas for “the next big thing.” Everyone has aspirations to come up with a new idea that will strike a chord with the interweb and blow up into the next multi-million dollar internet business. This is magnified when you’re surrounded by a talented software production team (designers, developers, etc.) because they actually have the skills to build the product at a cost of $0, whereas an entrepreneur or startup would need to hire and pay these people a wage or equity.

I’m intimately familiar with this idea because I’ve been one of the people trying to think of these things as a business owner and software engineer. For several years while running a software consulting company, I aspired to think of a product that my team could build that would generate recurring revenue and help offset the ebb and flow of the service-based revenue from consulting.

Many really interesting ideas were generated, but at the end of the day, it was never the #1 priority; paying the bills with service work always took first chair.

In the end, you discover “It takes a village” and starts with successful business strategy.

Start with the 5 parts of every business

Value Creation

In the world of Software as a Service or really business in general, this is the problem that your product solves – the thing that people would be willing to pay for.

Marketing

If you hope to sell your software, you need people to see it and be interested. Hopefully interested enough to trade some of their hard earned cash for it. However, you must handle getting the word out: advertising, social media campaigns, etc. You need the product to be visible to potential customers.

Sales

In simple terms, this is the exchange of money for product. It’s not just limited to the logistical ability to take someone’s money (i.e. online payments), but also closing the deal with an interested party.

Value Delivery

Value Delivery is getting the product into the hands of the customer. This could be a SaaS model, where your website needs to be online and available with all systems functioning. Or perhaps a mobile app, where you need to deliver the software through an app store or other market. Maybe the customer downloads and installs the software on their machine. However you deliver your product or service, it needs to get into the hands of the customer and be usable in order to deliver value.

Finance

In simple terms, business finance is just the tracking of money in and money out. How much did you spend on product development, marketing, sales commissions, etc. How much did you sell? Are you making a profit? If not, how much reserve do you have before you go under?

Conclusion

In the end, it really does take a village to make a successful software product, or a successful business. When that next big idea hits you, start with a business plan. Get all the supporting business processes figured out before you start the design and development.

HI! I'm a software engineer, bootstrapper and lean business geek. I'm passionate about building software and businesses. Here I share my tips on validating, developing, marketing and growing SaaS ideas. Learn More...

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