How to come up with SaaS ideas for real businesses [2022]

How to come up with SaaS ideas for real businesses [2022]

Let me guess…

You want to know how to come up with SaaS ideas?

Well you’ve come to the right place.

To generate ideas for a new SaaS is hard. There’s no doubt about that.

But if you:

  • get the right guidance
  • engage with the right communities
  • and give yourself time for the right ideas to bubble up…

You could end up with a few viable startup ideas and build a real business.

Let’s dig in!


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Table of Contents


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What is SaaS?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service.

Simply put, SaaS is a software platform that a person or company builds to serve clients.

Think of applications you pay for that require you to log in every time you want use it.

  • Prelo is a platform that solopreneurs can use to generate leads with big budgets
  • OnlyLinks is an app that allows you to find your dream customers on Twitter
  • KatLinks (one of our first customers here at Driftly) is SEO software that helps you rank higher and get more traffic

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Do you really want to start a SaaS business?

Before you start down this path, it’s important to think hard and make sure this is a project you want to commit to.

Coming up with good SaaS ideas often takes time

If you’re expecting to read this blog post, come up with a list of ideas and fully validate a SaaS business today, I’ve got bad news for you.

SaaS ideas often can’t be forced. More times than not, they come to you organically. Sometimes when you’re least expecting it and not thinking too hard about it.

This post will give you some ways to actively get your brain in the right mindset to start germinating ideas. It will also introduce you to communities where you can engage that will give you SaaS ideas in return.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and that will all happen quickly.

But what’s more likely is you’ll dive into the world of SaaS, startups and becoming a founder and over time, the best ideas will naturally come to you.

Building Software as a Service takes real technical ability.

This is the biggest barrier-to-entry for most startup software companies. Do you have a CS degree? Maybe been through a code bootcamp? Even put together a basic website?

If so, you might have what it takes to build out the first version of your software.

If not, you’ll probably have to find a technical co-founder or hire a developer or team to build it for you.

JacobBeckerman
@JacobBeckerman

Do you test before pushing to production? I just finished a massive upgrade to Driftly‘s backend infrastructure. Now to begin manual testing…

See the tweet

Have you considered starting with an easier business?

There’s nothing wrong with starting your entrepreneurial career by freelancing, consulting or even working for another startup to get experience.

There’s also a business model that’s the best of both world called productized services; you can package together different services and use SaaS pricing without the needing to code an entire software platform.

WP Buffs is my old company and a good SaaS example of this. Instead of doing hourly development work, we chose to sell website management subscriptions.

@BrettFromDJ

The “agency of one” storm is here. Receiving dozens of DM’s from folks launching their own.

See the tweet

If you do decide to move forward with your SaaS idea, it will likely fail (and if it does succeed, it may take years)

You probably already know the old adage that most startups fail.

Although there are many things you can do to make success the more likely outcome, the odds are still against you.

You’ll have to attract plenty of new users, not to mention retain many of them over a long period of time to see success.

So before you get started dreaming big with new SaaS business ideas, know that failure is often the result as well as a necessary speed bump in the road to success.

Arrnaud2
@ArnaudBelingaCX

The biggest secret to be successful at anything: consistency.

See the tweet

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What do successful SaaS businesses have in common?

Before we dive into the real tactics of where online you can go to generate SaaS business ideas, let’s make sure we keep our goals in mind here.

To come up with ideas for successful SaaS businesses.

Here are a few common traits of successful SaaS founders that you should keep in mind as you’re coming up with your own SaaS ideas.

They took a successful business model and applied it to a new industry

Many successful SaaS founders have found success not through a completely novel idea, but because they took what was working in one place and applied it to another.

Lots of businesses have taken off simply by applying what worked in a different industry.

Or maybe by executing the idea better, implementing a more profitable and effective billing system, etc.

Look at all the productized services companies out there. These are essentially just services companies that swiped the subscription business model from software companies.

Now productized service companies are rocking the startup ecosystem all because they took a business model that worked elsewhere and applied it to website management, copywriting, SEO, freelancing, development and plenty of other service-based jobs.

@ModestMitkus

So yesterday I created an MVP for selling productized services. Everything is automated. And the best thing is, I did everything in no-code! My tool stack for that: Landing (Elementor), Payments (Stripe), Forms (Tally Forms) & Project Management (Notion).

See the tweet

They niched down

Lots of small companies have tried and failed because they were trying to build software for too big an audience.

So when thinking up new SaaS ideas, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful with ideas for products that are useful to everybody. Going down this track most likely means building software that’s not exceptional for anybody!

You want to pick a market that’s small enough you can build a specialized tool to solve a big problem, but not so small that there aren’t enough customers to grow your business.

They worked with customers they liked to spend time with

This one is a biggie.

Starting a SaaS business is hard work. Most founders quit or their startups fail because they just can’t overcome the challenges required to grow into something self-sustaining.

Much of the drive to keep going comes from embracing and enjoying the challenges you work on every day.

And that enjoyment comes from building a product for people you wake up excited to be around every morning. You’ll be joining a community made up of your customers so that energy needs to fuel you to keep working when things get hard.

They picked a hot market

I’ve already told you SaaS businesses are hard to build and grow.

Well that goes doubly if you’re working in the wrong market.

You can build the best SaaS in the world that solves a huge problem but if the market decides they don’t need it, you’re out of luck.

A good SaaS idea will be in a market rich with potential buyers. It can also be in a small but growing market so you can ride the wave to business growth.

They built something in the intersection of their skills, interests and network

Skills

  • What are you best at?
  • What are you the go-to person for?
  • In what areas would you consider yourself proficient or an expert?

Interests

  • What parts of your life do you enjoy the most?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • What in life keeps your brain engaged?

Network

  • What do the majority of people in your close social circles do professionally?
  • What do the majority of people in your wider social circles do professionally?
  • What do your online followers (Twitter, etc) do professionally?

Think about these three areas as one big Venn diagram. SaaS ideas that live at the intersection of all three will give you personally the biggest chance to succeed.

They scratched their own itch

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or thinking about SaaS ideas for your first startup, this method of generating new business ideas has been proven over and over again.

You might encounter an issue during your personal web surfing time that’s just way harder than it needs to be.

Maybe you’re already working in startups and run into a business problem with no reliable solution.

Often new SaaS ideas stem from these exact scenarios. If you ask around and others have the same issue (and are willing to pay for a software solution), you might have just thought of a solid idea for a new SaaS business.

Miguel
@howdy_miguel

I look at problems in my life. If something frustrates me, it’s worth digging deeper. Lately, I’ve been keeping a note of all these SaaS ideas. I have 3 cool ideas queued up that I plan on implementing this year.

See the tweet

They solved a painful problem

Of everything to keep in mind while thinking of how to come up with SaaS ideas, this one is the most important.

Many pain points or inefficiencies leave room for a SaaS business.

But SaaS platforms that solve truly painful problems or needs put themselves in the best position to be paid more, attract more attention and eventually succeed.

Whenever possible, make sure your SaaS idea solves the most challenging problem you can realistically solve for a group of people.

Brian
@CasJam

Mine [SaaS ideas] came from a need I felt in my previous business, followed by market research & observation.

See the tweet

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Ready to come up with your new SaaS idea? Let’s go.

Finally!

Let’s dive into some ways you can generate new business ideas and hopefully come up with a few you’ll actually want to work on.

Note: make sure you have a place to write down ideas and notes. It could be a notes app, a physical journal or even the back of a napkin. Write down every idea you have, even the bad ones!

1. Twitter

This is a great place to start coming up with SaaS ideas because so many early-stage founders are here.

There’s also a rising movement called Build In Public. Founders of small SaaS companies literally post on Twitter, some multiple times a day, the inside scoop of what’s going on in their businesses.

@sobedominik

Today, one month ago, Helpkit hit the golden $1,000 MRR mark. Today we reached $1,800 MRR! It took ~5 months to reach $1,000 MRR and another ~1 to reach $1,800 MRR. The power of SaaS. Working hard to get to the $2K milestone hopefully soon.

See the tweet

There are a few ways to lurk around Twitter to see all the great business ideas bubbling up there.

  1. Literally search Twitter for “SaaS ideas”
  2. Search for “#BuildInPublic” to see tweets from everybody who’s a part of that conversation
Justin
@mijustin

Really great stuff in Brian’s AMA today (especially his tips on generating SaaS ideas)

See the tweet

You’ll also see people tweet out their own SaaS ideas that they want to see built!

Many folks in the indie SaaS community will share ideas freely that they think are good but might not want to work on themselves.

These might be ideas you want to work on or at the very least, ideas that can help you come up with more.

@DTWebLife

SaaS idea. Something that lets me keep track of recruiters, interview scheduling, job skill requirements. Maybe it can even send me a list of common interview questions for the various required skills?

See the tweet

Twitter is a great place to hang out if you can avoid all the noise and focus your attention on the world of SaaS. Follow those who Build in Public and share about their SaaS journeys and your ideas will start flowing.

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2. Indie Hackers

Never heard of Indie Hackers?

Do I have a treat for you.

Check out indiehackers.com and you’ll find a community of SaaS founders and makers (both bootstrapping and funded) who want to build great, indie product and services companies.

There’s even an entire group dedicated to ideas & validation. Many posts talk about potential SaaS companies so learn through posts (and comments) what ideas have been suggested and what folks think about them.


The Ideas and Validation group at Indie Hackers

You’ll surround yourself here with ambitious founders who want to build cool SaaS businesses. And you’ll get lots of business ideas by just creating an account, lurking around the community and engaging positively through comments, upvotes, etc.

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3. Product Hunt

Product Hunt is another massive online hub for SaaS founders and teams.

Over the years, it’s become one of the best places to launch new SaaS businesses and get the initial traction that leads many to a running sustainable companies.


The Product Hunt homepage. It changes every day!

Every day, there’s a new competition on producthunt.com to see which launched startup will be the #1 Hunted product of the day. This keeps the site and community really fresh because every day you login, things will have changed!

@KilianPoulinTW

Reached my goal on PH and we’re still #1. 233 sign-ups on the app. Didn’t expect to reach that with 16 hours left! That’s because the community on Twitter is amazing.

See the tweet

By tracking Product Hunt regularly, you’ll be able to see which ideas gain traction with the community and which do not. That will start giving you ideas that are more likely to become larger SaaS businesses.

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4. Online reviews

Most outsiders think all successful startups introduce some completely new idea into the world.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In fact, you could easily build a 7-figure SaaS business from the disgruntled customers of most big companies.

If you look at a company making $10M per year, they’re most likely at a size where it becomes hard to deliver everything their customer base wants. If you start a SaaS business that delivers what those disgruntled customers aren’t getting from that bigger company, you could win 10% of their customers over time.

An easy way to find unhappy customers of any business, big or small, it to look up their reviews online and find patterns in those negative remarks.

  • For any company, you can search Google for “[Company name] reviews” (many also have a G2 profile)
  • Many companies have a Google My Business profile that likely contain reviews

Here at Driftly, we did a big competitor analysis to see how we compared to the other guided tour software on the market.

Part of that analysis was a full review of the G2 reviews for all our competitors.

It was a goldmine!

JoeHoward
@JosephHHoward

You can learn a lot studying competitors. I organized all their G2 reviews, mostly 4 stars and under. 3,500 words. Will do a deep dive but at the surface, there are tons of great feature requests, challenges and positives to make our product better.

See the tweet

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5. Credit card statements

Remember when we talked about scratching your own itch?

Well this is taking it literally.

Open up your last 3 credit card statements. There you’ll find a list of things you literally spend money on.

  • What did you buy once? What do you buy repeatedly?
  • What subscriptions do you pay for? What would you never cancel?
  • What do you pay for that you need to log in to in order to use?

This is a great place to see a group of already successful businesses that you have a personal connection with. You can use what you like, dislike or want to see improved to give you ideas for new SaaS business opportunities.

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For many companies, SEO is an important marketing channel.

Writing helpful content that appears in search engine results is a great way to drive potential leads and new customers to your business.

But to know what people are searching for on Google and how many people are searching for it can also shed light on new potential business ideas.

Queue Google Trends. Here you can see what the world is searching for as well as topics that are short-term trending or long-term growing.


Google Trends
Looks like “SaaS ideas” has been more and more searched as the years have gone on!

Once you’ve written down a few SaaS ideas, run them through Google Trends. You’ll see how often searchers related to those ideas have trended and if they’ve grown over time. If the world is searching for your idea and the products on the market are insufficient, that might just be a great SaaS business idea.

@TraderAero

The power of Google Trends: NFT Analysis. Today, I’d like to share a tool that I use ~weekly as a full-time trader. Google Trends is a powerful tool that can help identify strong buys/sells for the short, mid and long-term in the NFT space. Let me break down how.

See the tweet

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What’s next?

There you have it.

You started this blog post wondering how to come up with SaaS ideas for a new business.

Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two. Not just about actions you can take to generate ideas but the right mentality to turn your idea into a successful and sustainable business.

You got this!

If you have any questions or want to chat about SaaS ideas, don’t hesitate to @ Driftly’s co-founders on Twitter!


Implement product tours in just 5 minutes

Driftly Homepage With Tour

Use no-code product tours to nudge users towards that WOW moment. Guide your customers towards the most impactful areas of your software as they breeze through onboarding, adopt core features and become life-long power users.