It is not easy to start your own SaaS company, so here are nine tips I’ve learned the hard way from starting Bokio, an AI-based digital banking tool, five years ago.
You don’t need to be an expert in the field
My background was in management consulting and it was only when I realised the gap in the market for a digital bookkeeping tool that I started Bokio. The skills I gained from my previous positions taught me management techniques that I carried over into this new venture, so what is crucial is an understanding of the industry, a desire to change it for the better, and a lot of hard work!
Identify your key values
Ascertain the core of what the company is trying to achieve, what its promises to the users, and what makes it unique. It is essential for all companies to have a strong identity; something which sets it apart from the crowd. In our case, Bokio is free – we strongly believe that small businesses should never have to pay for their accounting software, and we will continue to stick to this. This is what makes us – us.
Orientate yourself within the business environment
Having established your fundamental principles, work out how best to promote them within the marketplace. Look at what competitors are doing, and find a way to make yourself different from them. Think about markets that may be underprovided, such as social media influencers, and establish yourself as the foremost company within that space.
Arguably the most important aspect of any startup. By remaining true to your values and finding your niche amongst competitors, you can clearly indicate to investors what makes your startup worth investing in. To date, Bokio has raised over €7.1 million in funding, and by choosing the right investors we have been able to grow the company in a way that we have wanted.
Make sure the interface is clear
We have always wanted Bokio to be accessible to people from all backgrounds, from the self-employed handyman, to the market-stall trader – so it is essential to make the app as user-friendly as possible, especially when dealing with something technical. The product is there to make a job simpler, so you want to make it as easy as possible for a user to understand the functionality of your product as this will keep them coming back.
Ensure that your software is faultless
Data crashes and software issues will lose the respect and business of your customers, so make sure it’s foolproof. Faulty software can make small businesses lose valuable time and money, so ensuring it works seamlessly is essential. It is not always obvious to the user when software works well, but it always is when it doesn’t.
Look to the future
While it may be tempting to focus on the immediate present, it is imperative to have a clear plan for the future; if you cannot envision long-term goals for your company, your investors will lose faith in its ability to survive. The startup landscape is constantly growing and changing, so it is important to retain a flexible long-term strategy to adapt to potential market developments.
Prepare for the worst but expect the best
Launching a startup is not all smooth sailing. There will be instances which will test your company, such as a new tax law being implemented within a certain territory. Because of this, it is important to have a contingency plan in place so that when problems arise there is a clear course of action to take.
Establish a diverse workforce
At Bokio, we have a diverse workforce which makes for an incredibly stimulating work environment. This also makes it easier to expand the company into new territories when there are people in the office who can provide their insight on different cultures. When dealing with an industry with so many varied legalities depending on the country, it is essential to understand the nuances.
Guestpost by Viktor Stensson, CEO and co-founder of Bokio
Main image credits: TeraVector/Shutterstock
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