In a few years, we have seen lots of B2B SaaS businesses flourish. This has resulted in many entrepreneurs jumping on the bandwagon to try luck in the SaaS business. But, to tell you the truth, lots of them result in start-up failure.
Although you might see VC funding rounds and acquisition news on the internet, the hard truth is that businesses do not take off or fail miserably. And, if you think that the competition is the problem here, you are hugely mistaken.
Running a B2B SaaS business requires a shift in metrics that founders rely upon. Most people run their SaaS business just like any other B2B business. However, within time, they realize that they are not breaking even or getting the required traction.
Ten prominent reasons contributing to the start-up failure of SaaS companies
Here are some of the prominent reasons contributing to the start-up failure of SaaS companies:
1. Failure to meet the right product-market fit
While talking about SaaS, it is natural for us to assume that the primary reason for failed SaaS companies must lie in technology. But, in reality, it is related to the market. Studies have shown that around 42% of SaaS start-ups stop operating because they fail to build a product that fits market needs.
A product failing to fit market needs means either your product is not solving any existing problem or solving a problem for which nobody is searching a solution. If your product is not seen as a solution for an existing problem for which people are searching, it is bound to fail.
The solution for this issue is first to analyze the market and plan a product accordingly. After developing a hypothesis, you can test it by launching a Minimum Value Product (MVP). Once you feel there is a market for your product, you can scale it up according to the requirements and feedback you gathered through your initial customers.
2. Problems of cash flow
One of the main reasons for failed tech start-ups is the crunch of cash. Start-ups run out of cash generally because they fail to ascertain the amount of cash needed to launch and scale up their product in the market. There are various milestones in SaaS product development, and entrepreneurs need to plan and estimate the required cash for each stage. Further, many entrepreneurs overestimate their future revenue and make a plan based on that. These mistakes are sure ways of creating a cash crunch.
To save your start-up from failing due to cash crunch, you need to make sure to have proper financial planning for different stages, including –
- Progress from seed round valuation
- Beta testing of your product
- Customer validation
- Selling to early adopters of your product
- Rectifying any problems found in product-market fit
- Additional investment for further developments
- Any unplanned cash needs
As stated earlier, you should also be sceptical in estimating your revenue after the initial launch and scaling up of your product.
3. More churn than growth
Another reason for failing SaaS companies is the higher churn rate as compared to their growth rate. For any SaaS business, a constant churn rate with a growing growth rate is an important factor for breaking even. A churn rate is like a hole in any company’s customer retention bucket. When you have more customers canceling their subscription than the number of new subscribers,you cannot expect your company to thrive.
While you cannot eliminate churn from your business altogether, you can manage many factors contributing to higher churn in your business. Keeping your services up to the satisfaction mark of your customers and staying ahead of your competitors can help you reduce churn and make your business profitable in the long run.
4. Poor management
Almost one in five SaaS start-ups have to shut down their business due to poor management and team issues. Like any other business, management plays a critical role in the maintenance and growth of SaaS start-ups. A large number of entrepreneurs fail to understand the benefit of management in their small-scale businesses.
Most tech start-ups fail because they tend to focus solely on the work of developers. They forget the crucial role of management experts in market research, customer acquisition strategies, and growth techniques implementations, without which even the best-developed app will not attract customers.
For any start-up to develop and cross the early stage of the business, it is important to have a great management team that can manage every aspect of the business and fuel growth.
5. Problems with the product
One of the reasons for the biggest start-up failures is problems with the product. For any business, the product is the touchpoint where a business interacts with its customer. So, it is important to keep your product up to the expectations of your customer. In today’s highly competitive era, customers are spoilt for choices; if your product has some problems or glitches, customers can easily switch to your competitors’ products.
Your cloud product needs to be user-friendly as compared to your competitors. Customers are now addicted to easy-to-use intuitive services and you need to stand true to their expectations. Bugs and glitches are part of any digital product. To be on your customers’ good books, you just need to be prompt in fixing bugs and provide support and assistance to the customers whenever needed. Further, you need to take constant feedback from your customers to improve your product. If you fail to improve, you will realize that your growth declined instead of staying constant or increasing.
6. First-to-market vs. Fast-to-market
You might have heard that early bird catches the worms, but the proverb does not always fit in the case of SaaS start-ups. Many start-ups with innovative ideas have failed in the market not because their idea was not worth it but because they were the first movers in the market. When a SaaS start-up comes up with an innovative idea, it is bound to make several mistakes. Any competitor can study the business model and replicate the idea\ better while avoiding the mistakes made by the previous start-up.
To leverage the full benefit of your innovative idea, you need to be a fast mover rather than being the first mover. The ingredients of the success formulae of fast-moving SaaS start-up includes constantly evolving product, great customer experiences, and unrivaled support.
7. The frustrating fast adoption rate
Quite a large number of SaaS start-up failures can be attributed to the frustrating fast adoption rate. If it is difficult for customers to start using your product, your product is bound to fail. Supporting systems like onboarding, billing and provisioning are equally important for your customers as your core product offering. If your billing system is not completely automated or if you are not giving any trials to your customers, it will be difficult for you to get traction from the very beginning. And, this may force you to shut down your business altogether.
It would help if you made the processes of entering and using your product frictionless for your customers. Rigid price plans, too, are a recipe for failure. To make your start-up a successful business, you need to keep your customers happy with your product as well as your support services.
8. Not selecting the right team
You can badly fail your start-up if you fail to select the right team. Cherry-picking the best professionals for their tasks may not always be the right decision. All the members of a team need to work in collaboration towards the same goal. This need for cooperation and collaboration becomes even more important when a business is in its budding phase. Start-ups need to select the right team instead of the right professionals in isolation.
Weak teams often fail to implement the plans and growth strategies efficiently due to weak collaboration between the members. The team spirit of each member together defines the growth direction of any start-up. So, make sure to select the right team if you want your start-up to succeed.
9. Issues with the management
Any SaaS business model thrives on a well-playing team of professionals being managed well. Without proper management, even the best team can lose the game. For your employees, this losing of the game may just be a failed project, but for you, it may mean shutting down your SaaS start-up. So, you need to solve any issues in the management strategies and procedures.
Before you can satisfy your customers with your product and services, you need to satisfy your employees with the work environment and whatever they get from your organization in monetary as well as non-monetary forms. If your employees have issues that are ignored or not satisfactorily solved by management, their lack of satisfaction may reflect in their work. And this can eventually ruin your growth potentials.
10. Bad market selection as a result of poor market research
Last but not least, poor market research and a bad selection of market and product resulting from it are some of the most important reasons for the failure of a SaaS start-up company. Even the most functional and useful product can fail if it doesn’t land in the right market and the right hands. For your product to be valued, it must go into the hands of people who need that. For this, it is important to do proper market research.
Start-ups who fail to execute proper market research and select the right market for their product are destined to fail. So, never make this particular mistake.
We have covered the major reasons that contribute to the start-up failure of SaaS companies.
Notably, quality market research, responsible capital management, and opting for the right business model are crucial to ensure the success of your B2B SaaS business. 29
It is equally important to have strong management and provide a user-friendly product to your clients. All these factors are crucial for the success of your start-up SaaS company.
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published December 24, 2021, Updated December 15, 2021