Originally published in Protocol

Let’s not underplay the current situation — we are in crisis mode. Not because we’re heading towards a recession, not because SaaS companies might shrink, but because of all the unknown unknowns. Fear causes irrationality so SaaS CEOs must demonstrate reasoned leadership, making decisions that protect the business, and the team, for the short and long-term.

Remember — long-term thinking is good. But not if you don’t exist. On the other side — too much short-term thinking is bad — because there won’t be a long-term if you take too many steps backwards.

I hate to over-use our favorite phrase, but now really is a time to exercise ‘common sense’. …

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In this article I want to introduce Natural Capital — as we define it at Soilworks — explain why it is a critically important resource and why businesses and entrepreneurs should get involved.

Natural Capital is the world’s stock of natural resources, which includes geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms (from Wikipedia).

For the the last 100 years or so we have been depleting our Natural Capital at an ever increasing pace. The state of our Natural Capital now is one that will not support future generations, and is already impacting this generation.

(Originally Published on Techcrunch)

We’ve had a great decade long run in SaaS — abundant capital, thriving economy, and a massive existing market shift from on-premise to Cloud.

But the good times will end and challenges are coming.

I’m not predicting when it will happen — maybe it’s the spread of COVID-19, or maybe the market recovers and goes on to set new records — but one thing is for sure, recession will come, it always does.

Since a lot of SaaS leaders have never run a business through one, it might be helpful to share some ideas on how to be ready for the inevitable slump. One of the greatest assets a SaaS business has is high margin, recurring revenue — that should provide more leeway in making changes to get through a downturn, than many other types of business. …

(Originally published on TechCrunch)

There comes a time for many founders when they are ready to pass the baton of running their business to someone else. …

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There’s a lot of power in simplicity. The best writers and communicators tend to write in short sentences and use common words so that their audience can quickly understand the message, and not spend too many brain cycles deciphering the words.

Simple ideas spread faster. Simple ideas are easier to remember. Simple ideas are more shareable — and suffer less dilution and misinterpretation as they spread.

Obviously the opposite of simple is complex.

Complex ideas often sound smart — but are not. Complex ideas can fall apart once they get started, and tend to need the originator to be a big part of them, as the message is too complicated for others to run with on their own. …

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If you’re a SaaS business — you’re likely overwhelmed with data and an ever growing list of acronyms that purport to unlock secret keys to your success. But like most things — tracking with you do has very little impact on what you actually do. It’s really important to find one, or a very small number, of key indicators to track and then base your activities against those. It’s arguable that SaaS businesses are becoming TOO data driven — at the expense of focussing on the core business and the reason they exist.

In this article we’ll look at focussing on metrics that matter, metrics that help form activities, not just measure them in retrospect. …

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How do you know your product is priced too low? One way is when you raise the price between 13 and 18%, you have almost no churn, not many complaints, and your stock price actually goes up!

When Netflix increased their prices a few weeks ago, investors were so confident in the revenue increase that would be delivered that they didn’t even wait to see what customer’s reaction would be.

Netflix spends an astounding amount of money on content rights and content development — supposedly budgeting $15 billion for 2019 — and resulting in $3 billion in negative cash flow, which is heavily funded with debt — at $10.4 …

A group of Product Managers just co-authored what sounds like an interesting book, called ‘Launch’. But I doubt it will get the readership it may deserve. It certainly won’t get a mass of critical reviews.

Why? Because it’s free.

Free isn’t a business model. Charging isn’t only about making money (gasp!), it’s about creating the perception of value — and people use things they value.

Conferences that charge for tickets have a much higher attendance rate than those that let you register for free. Most people I talk to aren’t surprised by this — if you can have the option of attending by registering and it costs you nothing, all you are really doing is declaring interest, not commitment. …

The outcomes someone who is good at focussing, and knows what to focus on, can generate far outweigh the horsepower of their input. In fact, input effort isn’t really a good predicator of success at all.

You hear phrases like ‘busy fool’ and ‘just spinning their wheels’ to represent people that are working hard, but not achieving anything. You know they are putting tons of effort in, with a long list of tasks to get through (that list just keeps getting longer, by the way), but yet never really moving the needle and having the impact they could have.

Focussing on a small number of high impact activities is the solution!

Scrappy business people are fantastic people to work with — lean, mean, execution machines. But there comes a point where all scrap and no strategy results in a hard working team that are running to stand-still.

Many small company CEOs lean too far into the COO role, at the expensive of setting — and ensuring execution of — the strategy. If anything, CEOs need to lean more into the CMO role.

A good marketer is invaluable (and hard to find), but CEOs need to be careful not to think marketing and strategy are interchangeable. …


Ed Byrne

Partner at Scaleworks. Growing SaaS businesses.

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