This is a blog about starting a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product. You know, one of those romanticised businesses that you can, so the story goes, run from a laptop on an island somewhere. A business that provides an online service in exchange for a subscription fee.
There is a whole industry around funding and creating such companies, and often a scattershot approach is used – throw heaps of money at heaps of long-shot “startup” companies,1 in the hope that one of them grows so astronomically successful that you recoup all of your investment and then some.
We don’t like this approach – we’re frugal, anti-debt, and we want to try to build something sustainable. We have also seen that often, the only way to become profitable in that model is to completely corner whatever market you’re in, via frequently monopolistic, anti-competitive, or downright shady tactics.2
This blog will be about our own, modest approach: with our own labour, and using our own savings. We’re not looking for triple-digit percent yearly growth, and we aren’t looking to monetise people’s private data. Basically, what is referred to as just a small business.
It turns out that this is extremely hard. I’m sure you already got the pun in this blog’s name. There are resources and communities out there designed to help, but let’s be honest, we haven’t yet had much success. Instead of being despondent about that, why not write a blog about our journey? Worst-case, we have a bunch of posts about ill-conceived web apps that receive no traffic. Best-case, we can learn from the feedback we get, and document what we’ve tried and which resources we’ve found, so that others on this journey might benefit. It’s a bit of an experiment, and certainly a challenge to us (since we’re shy on the internet), but let’s see what happens!
Presumably, the difference between a “startup” and a run-of-the-mill small business is that a startup is considered a failure unless it returns 10-100x the investment, whereas a small business could be considered successful if the owner is able to pay their rent and living costs. See also How to Evaluate Startup Ideas by Kevin Hale. ↩