SaaS products are usually founded by one or two entrepreneurial, smart, driven people. What drives them is not just the dream of a mega trade sale or IPO, but belief in the problem they are solving for a customer.
At some point you get enough traction to start hiring people and you share your mission to solve the problem. Who you hire and how you unlock their potential will to a large extent dictate the probability of you succeeding. I say this because it’s unlikely that you’ll have hired more people than your market competitors, or have a bigger sales and marketing budget, or have such a big idea that it will sell itself.
What this means is you need to punch above your weight. You need to unlock the potential of everyone in your team. You can’t have people sitting there in third gear. You need them to give you their all, and that includes their discretionary effort. The effort they don’t have to give, but can choose to.
I’ve seen first hand what it’s like to work with a team that’s all in, and I’ve see what it’s like to work alongside people that have lost their way, have become non-believers and question whether the company they are in is fulfilling their needs. This is what I have learned.
Your people need to be seen and heard
Everyone in your company can contribute initiatives and ideas that help you achieve their own and wider team and company objectives. You just need to make sure they know how. And when they do, they need to feel like they have been heard and that their effort is recognised and rewarded. This should always mean verbal & public recognition but can also mean more responsibility, promotion, and / or remuneration.
Your people want to be trusted
In a tech company trusting your team means letting go. Giving people the opportunity to show what they can do, mentoring them along the way and if required, catching them when they fail.
The issues arise when you don’t trust them or worse still, they’ve stopped trying and are not putting themselves in a position where they could be trusted.
Your people want to be inspired
Can you remember a time when you were inspired by someone else? Was it their intelligence, compassion, drive, work ethic, vision or humour that inspired you, or something else? The bottomline is there needs to be leaders in every company that’s going to beat the market. The team need to know where you want to take the company and how to help you take it there.
A moments reflection!
If you’re part of the leadership team of a SaaS company that’s in the start-up or growth phase, you need make sure you’re getting the most from your people. If you’re not then re-prioritize them now. In the same same way you can’t succeed without having a deep understanding of your customers, you can make and take a product to market and win without a totally engaged team.