SaaS business is a multi-faceted endeavour, so it's important to have a well-rounded team with a variety of skillsets in order to cover all your bases. It can be a lot to take on, but with the right guidance, it doesn't have to be so overwhelming.
With so much at stake, it's vital that you take the time to hire carefully. In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the key skills and roles you'll want on your team when building a SaaS business, as well as how to go about hiring for each one.
What determines a successful SaaS start-up?
How much of an impact does the team that you hire have on a SaaS start-up’s success?
A study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that the number one predictor of start-up success is not the idea, market, or technology. It’s the team. The article goes on to say that “the quality of the founding team has a greater impact on a start-up’s success than any other single factor.”
This is not to say that the idea, market, or technology are not important. They most certainly are. But what this does emphasise is that for a SaaS start-up to reach its full potential, it must have a strong team in place to make it happen.
It is estimated that over 90% of SaaS start-ups flop within 3 years of beginning operations. Behind lack of market need and running out of funds, not having the right team was the 3rd most common reason for failure.
This is why it’s so crucial to get the team right from the start. The good news is, there are certain skillsets and roles that are essential for any successful SaaS start-up. Let’s take a look at what they are and why you need them.
The skills you want on your SaaS team:
Whether you're a BioTech SaaS start-up or a FinTech one, there are certain skillsets that are essential for any SaaS business. Without these roles, your team may be set up for trouble from the start.
Here are the key skills and roles you'll want on your team:
1. A Business-Minded Leader
Leadership involves much more than simply being the head of the company. A good leader is someone who can see the big picture and make decisions that are in the best interest of the company as a whole.
Business-minded leaders are able to make tough decisions, even when it's not popular. They also need to be able to inspire and motivate their team to do their best work. This is not always an easy task, but it's one that's essential for any SaaS business.
2. A Tech Wizard
A tech wizard is someone who is not only well-versed in all things technical, but also has a knack for problem-solving. This person will be responsible for keeping your technology up and running, as well as troubleshooting any issues that may arise.
They should also have a good understanding of how your business works and be able to offer suggestions on how to improve efficiency and productivity. For example, if you're a SaaS start-up that provides customer service software, your tech wizard should be able to suggest ways to streamline the process and make it more efficient.
3. A Marketing Guru
A good marketing team is essential for any business, but it's especially important for a SaaS start-up. This is because SaaS businesses often have a very short window of time to make a good impression and acquire customers.
Your marketing guru should be able to create and execute a marketing plan that will help you reach your target audience. They should also be well-versed in the latest digital marketing trends and have a solid understanding of how to use social media to your advantage.
4. A Sales Rockstar
A sales rockstar is someone who is not only good at selling, but also has a deep understanding of the product or service they are selling. This person will be responsible for acquiring new customers and growing the business.
They should be able to identify potential customers and be able to sell to them in a way that is both convincing and relatable. When hiring your salesperson, look for traits like charisma, persistence, and creativity. These characteristics will go a long way in ensuring success.
5. A Customer Support Superhero
A good customer service team is essential for any business, but in SaaS, your customer service team is your front line. This team is responsible for handling any and all customer inquiries and concerns.
They should be able to provide helpful and prompt responses to any questions or issues that may arise. They should also be proactive in identifying potential problems and offering solutions. A good customer service team can make or break a SaaS business, so it's important to hire people who are up for the challenge.
How do you know what skills you need on your team?
Outside of the above skillsets, you'll need to look for specific skills that are tailored for your start-up. For example, if you're a SaaS start-up that provides project management software, you'll want to make sure you have someone on your team who is well-versed in project management.
The best way to determine what skills you need is to take a close look at your business model and identify the areas that are most important for your success. Once you know what skills you need, you can start looking for people who have those skills.
Prioritising skills on a limited budget:
Many start-ups feel the pressure to hire the best of the best, but this isn't always possible (or necessary). When you're first starting out, it's important to focus on hiring people who have the skills that are most critical for your success. While it's important to have a good marketing team, they can always be hired later down the road. The same goes for a sales team.
Budget constraints means that you have to be strategic about the skills you prioritize. Hire people who have the skills that are most critical for your success and worry about the rest later.
Hiring 101 - how to hire the right person for each role:
When hiring for your SaaS business, it's important to remember that the people you hire will be responsible for helping you grow and scale your business. As such, it's essential that you take the time to find the right person for each role.
Here are a few tips to help you hire the right person for each role:
1. Define the skills and experience you need: The first step in hiring is to determine the skills and experience you need. This will vary depending on the role you're hiring for.
2.Connect with your current network: Who do your current employees know that would be a good fit for the role you're hiring for? Utilizing your current network is a great way to find talented individuals who may not be actively looking for a new job.
3. Look for culture fit: It's not just about finding someone with the right skills and experience - it's also about finding someone who will fit in with your company culture. You can see if a candidate is a good culture fit by conducting a behavioural interview.
4. Check references: Once you've narrowed down your candidates, it's important to check their references. This will give you an idea of their work ethic and how they interact with others.
5. Be flexible: Unfortunately, the perfect candidate doesn't always exist. If you're having trouble finding someone with all the skills and experience you need, consider hiring two people to fill the role.
Reuben Barrett is the Marketing Manager of Dave Clark Design.
Artwork by: Adam Van Kampen, Senior Designer, Auckland studio.