Digital Assets #0010 - Building Micro-Saas Solutions

Find out how you can create the next big thing.

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Digital Asset - Micro-SaaS

Market Trends in SaaS

Micro-SaaS has become super popular in the past year and specifically Micro-SaaS.  Now, before we dive into this digital asset let’s first understand what Micro-SaaS is.  Micro-SaaS is a business specifically targeting a niche market that is typically run by a single person or a very small team.  Compare that to SaaS that has been around forever, which is Software-as-a-Service that has typically been a startup that raised millions, had a big team that solved a bigger problem that wasn’t targeted at a small niche.  As we can see in Reddit the SaaS subreddit has grown tremendously over the past 2 years, and so has the Micro-SaaS market. 

While it’s hard to find a specific number for Micro-SaaS, the entire SaaS market is expected to grow by more than 30% in 2020 and into 2021.  For reference, the highest growing jobs are only growing at a rate of about 28% with an average job growth rate of 4%, so SaaS is growing at a very quick rate.  

Okay, so let’s discuss some trends.  As we progress competition will rise, the big players may clone micro-saas plugins but micro-saas will continue to thrive because there are always new problems to tackle. The first point is obvious, as the micro-saas trend gets bigger naturally competition will rise but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to stand out.  In fact, it may be easier, especially if you have a great product.  With more options comes the ability to separate yourself from the competition because the end-users will start to want the best with so many options.  Put more time into development to make sure you have a solid platform.  The big players will continue to clone plugins.  There are a variety of marketing plugins for Shopify, such as Klaviyo, but now Shopify is starting to create their own, but that doesn’t mean Klavyiio will go away because of that customer trust.  Customers love tools that they trust and love.  Lastly, micro-saas will continue to grow and thrive.  Why? There are always problems and people are becoming lazier.  As the market continues to change, there will always be new problems and new micro-saas opportunities. 

Why is Micro-SaaS growing though?  Well, the main reason is the startup costs.  Micro-SaaS is just you so you don’t have to pay a large team to get it off the ground.  Another reason - you don’t have to raise funding (typically).  Since your idea is a nice market, you can hire a developer for relatively cheap, or not pay them and give them equity, or if you are a developer you can do the development yourself.

Now, let’s take a look at some opportunities in micro-saas and give you some ideas!

Opportunities in SaaS

Micro-SaaS opportunities come and go with the market, business, and tech trends.  Why? Because if you are building a micro-saas solution that isn’t relevant to tech, business, or the market then no one will want it.  Keeping up with the latest trends in business and tech is smart, but where the real riches are in micro-saas are PROBLEMS.  What is a group of people annoyed with or having issues with? Boom - micro-saas idea.  When people provide a solution that cuts provide less friction then other people will tend to go towards that product of least friction.  For example, Substack.  People could easily create a blog/newsletter website on WordPress and connect their ESP in the backend and do it like that with not that much set up time, maybe a couple of hours if they have experience in WordPress.  But Substack cuts through all the friction of getting hosting, installing a theme, downloading plugins, configuring and setting up and connecting with your ESP.  All you have to do is input some things about your newsletter and just start writing.  People love easy and quick, and that to have a great micro-saas solution you should really focus on the friction or problem.  If you do that and solve it nicely customers will come running.  

If you're stuck on ideas, that’s not a problem, here are some ideas we found online that I love:

  1. CRM for Freelancers

Freelancers are growing at the fastest rate in history and with the remote trend happening it will only continue to grow most likely.  Freelancers are continuing to be in demand with large companies because it’s easier to hire experts than training their own.

Problem - Freelancers become super busy with their current projects, they don’t always have time to keep up with their sales pipeline and then forget to follow up and lost potential sales.  

Solution - Enter freelancer CRM to handle all of the sales and admin tasks that most freelancers don’t enjoy.  Keep the functionality easy and simple. Functionality to filter on contacts, pipeline, and tasks.  Integration with email marketing would be another great idea.

Competition - Excel and/or Google spreadsheet - that’s probably what most freelancers currently use if we had to guess.

  1. KPI Tracker

Marketing is obviously huge, and now that everything is online - marketers need a way to track their marketing and promotions.  

Problem - Marketers create links to drive traffic to their products or services, but it’s super hard to track the results.

Solution - Link/KPI tracker.  It will allow the user to create a link for a promotion and then track specifically how that link performed.

Competition - Voluum is a link tracking software out there. It seems very expensive per month, can you make it cheaper or better?

  1. Team Communication/Zaps

Zoom is clearly the leader in online meetings and chatting, and now they just introduced Zaps.  I think this can be huge going forward into 2020.

Problem - there are many, and it varies by jobs and industries.  What is the problem or annoyance you have with Zoom? 

Solution - Create a Zap for that annoyance or problem!

Competition - You could be the first! Just search Zaps and if it’s not out there - you have no competition! 

  1. Bookmarking Extensions  (devs and designers)

As a developer, I bookmark tabs all the time so I can reference back to them.  It would be awesome to add some notes as I read, and have more of a better user experience than just a long list of bookmarks in Chrome.

Problem - You just read it, a better UI, and more options when saving bookmarks.

Solution - Chrome extension that allows the user to save the bookmark, add notes, and then create a page they can go to to view their bookmarks.  Another great idea would be allowing them to create tags.

Competition - Klart is doing this and is great.  But what could you do differently or better?

  1. Content planner

Content has become king, and it’s super important for SEO and organic traffic.  People are reading/viewing more digital content than ever before, so it’s important that your digital content is sent out timely and is planned.

Problem - According to a poll we found online, 32% of marketers think that content planning is poor.  

Solution - A simple, easy to use a content planner that multiple people can edit and view, and sends alerts to the people working on it when it starts to get close to the time it needs to be sent out and after it is sent out.

Competition - I couldn’t find a lot.  BaseCamp is close to this, but does far more and has a lot more functionality that wouldn’t be needed.

How to Start

Okay, so you have an idea what Micro-SaaS is, the market trends and some ideas let’s discuss how you can start your Micro-Saas project.

  1. Find a problem

As we just discussed, one of the more important things about micro-saas is coming up with a great solution that either removes friction or fixes a problem entirely.  There are many ways to find problems, you can interview people and ask them about the problems they are having or would like to have, solve your own problems, or simply find a product that you love and determine what you can do to cut the costs, make it better or create added functionalities.  These are 3 good ways to think of ideas but obviously, there are many more so put on your creative hat and get to work! 

Pro Tip - make sure you write down your ideas as they come into your head.  We all know that we think of great ideas, don’t write it down and lose the idea 15 minutes later.

  1. Design the workflow

So you have the idea, now you need to design the workflow.  Basically, you need to create how the user will interact.  Honestly, you just need a sheet of paper for this and it should look like a flow diagram.  Start with the login page and then go from there.  Where will the user be directed to after login, what fields need to be in each form, what functionality will you need in the app?  Answer all these questions in this step so you don’t have any gaps in your processes.

  1. Design the application

Now you have to design the application.  Don’t put as much thought as you may think into this part. You can always update the design as you go but get the name of the app in this step and the colors are the 3 main things to decide.

  1. Start building

So you have the idea, how the app will flow and the design it is time to start building.  If you’re a developer I would recommend you try to develop the application on your own so you don’t have to pay a developer.  If you don’t have any tech or development experience it’s time to find a developer.  You have a variety of options for this.  The cheapest is either UpWork or Fiver.  If you want a truly vetted developer there are places like Topal or a local software development company in your hometown.  Note that those will be a lot more money than Fiverr or UpWork and it all depends on your funds.  Either way, you now need to develop the app.

  1. Get your first 10 members

This could really be 4A because you can do this while building to get some feedback or create features you may not have thought of.  You can find your first 10 customers by posting in online communities like Facebook groups or Reddit, Facebook ads or if you have a following ask them if they would want to join and be the first 10 members. 

Offer the first 10 members a lifetime free membership.  Promise them that they will get a lifetime of free access and that they will help shape the future of the product through feature and bug requests.  It gives you great feedback and they feel important and included.

  1. Scale-up marketing

So your application is now developed, you’ve tested it with your first 10 members and they like it.  Now it is time to start marketing and scaling it up.  Facebook ads, paid promotions and Google ads are all great places to start.  Remember to focus on marketing where your target audience will be.  You can also do paid promotions with influencers in that space, which is another way to create sales and drive traffic to your micro-saas application.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Low cost of start-up

  • Membership model - you will get paid each month/year

  • Freedom

  • Scalability 

These are just 4 benefits of a micro-saas model but there are many more.  The biggest that is attracting a lot of people currently is the low cost of entry and membership model.  The membership model is so nice because you know you are getting paid every month.  Other businesses don’t promise this and you have to grind each month for the money.

Another benefit people don’t talk about is freedom.  After you get a lot of users, have your marketing down pat, this really will create a lot of freedom for you because the business is almost on auto-pilot if you want it to be.

Cons

  • development costs 

  • Finding users

These are the big 2 that stick out to me.  Development can get pricey depending on how big of an idea yours is.  Luckily, it shouldn’t be too because micro-saas solutions are niched down and don’t require a lot of development costs.  If you are a developer, then this doesn’t pertain to you because you could develop it yourself.

Finding users can always be difficult whether you are creating a micro-saas solution or a blog.  That is always the tough part and always will be.

Successful Companies

Are you interested in micro-saas but don’t have ideas?  You need to check out the Software Ideas newsletter.  It is a weekly newsletter that sends out 3 micro-saas ideas straight to your inbox.  You’ll get a free issue if you fill out your email - ps they are great!

Direct Memo

Headlime

Carrd

SEO Testing

Snappa

And so, so many more!


Wow – that was a lot, but I hope you learned all about creating a newsletter!

As always, if you have any questions about these steps or have any specific questions I’d love to talk. Either DM me on Twitter or email me at crvanhoof@gmail.com.

1 Min. Recap

🤔 Problem – There’s too many to name!

💡 Solution – Create a micro-Saas solution.

👨‍👩‍👦How to Implement – Find the idea.  Create a solution. Promote the product.

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