The #1 limiting belief preventing most SaaS founders from growing their businesses
“Well I only want to invest in growth when there’s a guaranteed result.”
“We’d be willing to spend more if we knew that it would generate results.”
I’ve heard this concern from SaaS founders more times than I can count. I heard it when I was in-house as a marketer, and I hear it even now from early-stage founders as a growth consultant.
Don’t get me wrong — no one wants to waste money on activities that don’t impact the bottom line in any kind of way.
Nobody has an innate desire to take cash and burn it in the front yard. But when budgets are small and the company is still in its infancy, much of the initial investments in growth and overall marketing can feel like a waste.
All of this, however, flies in the face of a fundamental truth about growth: it takes a consistent investment of some kind in order to grow whether through time or money.
Truth: It takes a good plan for growth to experience growth.
The Iron Triangle
We’re all held by the same Iron Triangle of Scope, Time, and Budget. They are our angels and demons.
It’s either going to take time or budget based on the scope for growth that’s been defined. Sometimes it’s both and there’s no way around it.
If you have a small budget (let’s say $1-2K per month), it’s going to take longer (more time) for you to execute enough experiments (smaller scope) before you find winning projects. Founders with smaller budgets have to consider how long they’re willing to wait and how much they’re willing to execute on their own to save cash.
If you have a larger budget, you’ve got more to play with and can expand the experiments and projects (more scope) and learn from them in less time. Founders can usually hire experts or FTEs to invest in growth
It gets even more complicated depending on the market as well. If there are many competitors or there’s a huge, problem-aware market that is actively looking for solutions, you’ll likely see results faster from growth initiatives than a product in a market with zero competitors or completely unaware prospects.
The 3-year plan
When a founder enters the market with the mindset of “We’ll only invest in growth if we see positive results,” it cuts the product’s future at its knees.
It’s the same as saying “I’ll only get checked for skin cancer when it becomes malignant” or “I’m only going to invest in my 401K or ROTH once I see that it’s grown.”
We need to adjust the limiting belief of “We’ll only invest in growth if we see results” to “If I make the best decisions with the information I have about growth, I *will* see results.”
First, you have to plan for growth based on the market and situation you’re in. If you don’t plan on raising funding, that’s perfectly legitimate! You may be able to stay small and keep investments low if you’re willing to either learn marketing and growth yourself or focus all of your energy on making sure you’re building a product people will pay for.
For any kind of business — funded or bootstrapped — prepare yourself for the next 3-5 years of learning and investing in growth to see the return.
Second, you will have to invest in growth making the best decisions you can possibly make while knowing that it will eventually pay off. You have to be comfortable with investing in growth (building product, interviewing customers, running marketing campaigns, running experiments) over the short-term and long-term.
Otherwise, it might be time to re-think your goals and desires.