The good SaaS times will end and obstacles are coming

The good SaaS times will end and obstacles are coming

Ed Byrne is a business owner, financier and co-founder of Scaleworks

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We’ve had a terrific decade-long run in SaaS– abundant capital, a thriving economy and a huge existing market shift from on-premise to cloud.

But the good times will end and obstacles are coming.

I’m not anticipating when it will happen– maybe it’s the spread of COVID-19, or perhaps the market recovers and goes on to set brand-new records– however one thing is for sure, economic crisis will come, it always does.

Because a great deal of SaaS leaders have never run a business through one, it might be helpful to share some concepts on how to be all set for the inevitable downturn. One of the best properties a SaaS company has is high-margin, repeating income– that must provide more freedom in making modifications to make it through a decline than lots of other kinds of services.

I have actually broken this guide into the macro– things that occur to you, the levers you can affect in your organisation and some notes on how to keep your stakeholders helpful.

Funding environment

Credit tends to dry up in an economic crisis, however luckily for SaaS, bank debt has never truly been readily available, so it’s unlikely this makes much difference! The brand-new type of SaaS debt suppliers ought to be able to keep supplying credit through an economic crisis, as they comprehend the real possession of repeating profits. They might get more conservative in the amount of money they will loan, particularly if signups are down and churn is up, but debt ought to be more available for SaaS than in other sectors. Make sure you know your funnel and install base metrics– these ought to provide self-confidence to a lender.

Who knows what’ll happen with VC. Excellent organisation is great business in theory, but “growth at all expenses” is more difficult and more expensive in an economic downturn.

Clients and the addressable market

This is nuanced, depending on from where you win clients.

If your consumers are moving from old-world on-premise software, you need to remain in good shape, or even in better shape as they accelerate the move to SaaS, which saves them money and decreases overhead and capital.

Customers who do what you offer in-house might be a slower, harder sell.

If you’re winning service from customers moving between SaaS tools– like someone swapping out Jira (a SaaS project management tool) in favor of Asana (another SaaS project management tool), simply make sure you are the clear “recession-choice” company, otherwise the flow may go the other method and not just will brand-new sales drop, churn will increase.

Then there’s the brand-new task sale– selling a solution that doesn’t currently exist inside your target client.

Maybe it’s a new way of doing things, or a product developed for an emerging market with low competitors (however low awareness, too). Think repeating revenue billing for SaaS: This issue is SaaS-only, and SaaS is still fairly new– it’s unlikely a client is utilizing QuickBooks! Or remote team management software application– remote groups dealing with computer systems throughout the day is a brand-new phenomenon. In an economic crisis, all new tasks are going to get ranked by must-do and optional, and the must-do list by impact and speed of impact to the bottom-line. Be able to 100%show you can deliver worth quickly.

Infrastructure costs and charge card

There’s constantly some room in the hosting and DevOps setup– you do not want to take risks– but if you’re like many SaaS companies, cost optimization hasn’t been the top priority since you’re growing and gross margins are already so high.

Audit your credit card statement– do you truly need all those SaaS tools? Or better yet, cancel your credit card and get a new one– only re-add the tools you desire as the dunning e-mails come on. I ensure you’ll discover things you’ve been spending for that you didn’t even learn about.

In fact, consider getting rid of business charge card; they get overused and bad routines seep in. When expenditures have to be warranted to get repaid, the number seems to amazingly drop a little. The problem of proof makes people act more frugally.

Cash and financing

Know your money. A simple statement, however sadly, it’s seldom the case. You can’t count on stories, pledges and spreadsheets– you require to visit to your savings account several times a week. This isn’t hard and you’ll build a gut feel for your money position and its motions quickly.

Know your money earnings. Annual and Monthly Run Rate (ARR/MRR) matters, the Profit and Loss account matters, but in tough times, money is king. If you get short on cash, and believe you pay because your P&L states so, you run a serious threat of going out of business.

Money forecasting is vital– your run rate and your cash typically don’t associate– any pre-payments show up in income, but you don’t get that cash on a monthly basis, so it might already be gone. The exact same chooses scheduled income that hasn’t paid and sits in aged receivables (AR)– again, profits but no cash.

Optimize your Deferred Revenue and Accounts Receivable. Try to get more pre-payments without giving too high a discount rate– bolstering your money position. Who owes you money? Chase it. You can’t afford to have a system on– regardless of the margins– if a consumer isn’t spending for it.

You should take the “no-surprises” method to running finance. Any payments above a (low-dollar worth in economic downturn world) limit– the CEO needs to authorize.


The team is the most expensive and crucial asset in every SaaS company. If you go out of service, you’ll lose all of these assets, so it’s important to make the hard options in time.

That may imply voluntary or involuntary exits.

Evaluate your cultural norms– do individuals truly value totally free treats, lunches, a book allowance and so on? You do not need to zero-out your culture, however there’s lots of things you can do (like a dinner where everyone brings in food and cooks for each other) that are terrific enjoyable, develop sociability and are inexpensive or don’t cost anything.

Existing client base

In an economic crisis, these are your most prized properties. Start consumer advocacy programs, share more client success stories and link groups of like-minded clients together.


Many individuals’s very first response in a decline is to reduce rate.

Price is a signal– to clients, the marketplace and your group. Services that price-cut send out a signal that they are in trouble, need cash and are prepared to take a hit to get it. This is not a method to attract long-term consumers!

Furthermore, it’s harming to a business to try one-off “economic crisis prices,” since when you come out of it, it’s almost difficult to restore the premium brand name and rate you once commanded. Cost decreasing is a one-way street.

You do have levers– work with clients on payment plans, on ramp-ups or routine usage audits and on pre-payment discounts. You can modify your pricing model to keep costs where they ought to be while lowering the burden on your clients– a policy that can quickly be retracted post-recession.


With consumers, with stakeholders, with workers.

Lots of business are so focused on building the company that they forget to offer “organisation updates” to their community.

Do this early– not when you’re already in difficulty– and your community will realize you’re one of the couple of strong companies with your heads securely fixed to your shoulders.


Economic crises reoccur. This is the very first test of the toughness and resilience of SaaS companies– but there are sources of power with repeating high-margin revenue. Be conservative. Boost transparent communication. You can, and should, think long-lasting throughout an economic downturn: make it through the short-term however don’t destroy your brand, community and company cultural equity to do it.

Whatever you do– remember your consumers and workers will remember it when the economy begins growing once again. Act responsibly.

This is by no ways planned to be an exhaustive list or complete strategy– I ‘d enjoy any recommendations to other articles and guides that might be practical for our SaaS community in Scaleworks– message me @edbyrne or email [email protected] Thanks!

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