Taking your business from Agency to successful SaaS starts today...
Stop selling your time, start selling your ideas and build a scalable, predictable SaaS revenue.As an Agency Founder you have super-powers when it comes to building SaaS. In fact many successful SaaS founders had a consultancy/agency background. Isn’t it time you joined them?
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I'm David and I help Agency Founders create hugely successful SaaS BusinessesThis is my story....
I started off as an agency founder in 2004. After 10 years, along with my co-founders, I was done. We had reached a plateau in terms of growth and now it felt like we were running as fast as we could just to stand still.When we were approached by someone looking to buy us we realised that the value of our agency wasn't exactly life-changing. We started to wonder whether it was all worth it.At the same time, we'd had some success building our own products and we loved being the arbiters of what was or wasn't going to get put live.So we had a decision to make. Do we keep continuing doing what we're doing, earning an OK living but not feeling as if we were making any progress, or do we focus our efforts on becoming a product company instead?
We made the big decision that our future lay in SaaS and decided that in order to really make that work, we had to figure out how to make the transition from consultancy.So we decided to sell the agency and jump full time into our product business, ScreenCloud. Turned out it was the best financial decision we ever took. Today, ScreenCloud is generating over $20m in ARR and is worth much, much more than our agency could ever have hoped to achieve.But there were a lot of challenges along the way. Challenges that, looking back, I absolutely loved solving. So much so that I missed that period when we got to a certain size.Today I'm working with agencies on similar journeys and helping them get there quicker whilst avoiding some of the obstacles that fall in the way. I'm doing that in four ways:
For those not ready to work 1:1 with me yet, I'm working on a course for anyone building a commercial SaaS plan.
My love letter to Agency Founders...
Dear Agency FounderI love you. You’re one of the good ones. You started your company because you saw that you had some skills and customers who needed them. If you’re anything like me, you saw that you could do a better job of servicing those customers than the company you were previously working at could do. You were nicer, more authentic and you cared about what you were doing: your craft.But after a while it started to suck. I mean, you’re better now at what you do than you were when you first started, but the joy has slowly gone out of it. Difficult clients who don’t listen to your advice. Putting hours of blood, sweat and tears into a proposal only to be totally ghosted. The endless treadmill of winning the work, doing the work, being paid for the work, only to start all over again finding the next project, like Sysiphus endlessly rolling his rock up a hill.Let’s face it, selling time sucks. The margins are tiny. It’s hard to scale. And you end up building something that doesn’t have much of a financial value when you think about the sacrifices you’ve taken to get here.But you’re one of the good guys: you’ve worked with diligence; you’ve gone above and beyond; you’ve grown out of the margins you’ve created and you’re good at this stuff. It’s so unjust that you’re running faster and faster yet it often feels like you’re just standing still. But what if there was something you could do about it? What if there were super powers that you have just by the very fact that you’ve launched, run and grown an agency - you just haven’t discovered them yet?That’s where I come in. My name’s David Hart and I used to be sat exactly where you are now. By the time I’d been running my agency for 12 years, I was done. We were on the treadmill like the one I described and we’d also plateaued at around £1.5m in annual turnover. However hard we tried, we couldn’t move that needle. Then we made the momentous decision to pivot from services to SaaS. It was the best financial decision we ever made because today the business we created is generating over $20m in Annual Recurring Revenue and has a valuation that far eclipses anything we could have hoped to achieve selling our time alone.
I’ve lived the process from having an agency and some ideas, through finding a home for the agency and ultimately to being fully focused on building and scaling a SaaS business. It’s not a straightforward path and there are a variety of things to consider along the way. As well as doing this myself, I’ve also helped others figure out how they could do it, too. And we’re not alone. Some of the most well known SaaS companies out there started off like us, as an agency. Companies such as Mailchimp, Basecamp, Hubspot, InVision, Kissmetrics, Buffer all began life offering consultancy services.If you’re considering making this journey but don’t know how best to do it, I feel you. I was the same. But I can help. I can work with you to develop a plan that takes you and your co-founder(s) to where you want your business to be. I can help you validate whether your SaaS idea has legs, work out a financial plan that allows you to see the size of the funding gap (and how you might plug it), figure out what to do with your existing business interests and help you turn your natural superpowers that you have from running into an agency into a SaaS-operating Wünderkid. Because you deserve it. You deserve to be the steward of your own creative output rather than at the whim of your clients and you deserve to fully realise the skills and experience you’ve built up over the years and create significant financial security for you and your family.I can promise you three things:
1. It won’t be an easy ride and will be fraught with dangers along the way, but
2. I’ll be there by your side for as long as you want me to be, part guide, part guardrail, part cheerleader
3. If you get it right, you’ll look back to the moment you decided to make the move as being one of those Sliding Doors moments that set you on a much better pathPeople like us, we take the risks, we put in the hours, we go the extra mile. You have the skills and expertise to create the business you want. I made the leap and I know you can too. It’s time for you to reap what you’ve already sown.Let’s stop selling your time and start selling your ideas.With love and excitement for what comes next,David
Making the transition is just the start.Go to Market and Growth is where things really kick off.
The £0-£10m ARR stage of the journey is the most gnarly, terrifying yet rewarding part, IMHO. As someone who has been there and done it several times, I tend to work by identifying where I can be of most help. But I find that the main areas of support fall into one of the categories below.
Positioning and Pricing
One of the most important levers you can pull when it comes to revenue growth. Get it wrong and you are definitely leaving money on the table. Get it right and you and your customers are happy.
Product Market Fit
How do you know when you've achieved Product Market Fit? There are some metrics you can consider, but sometimes it's just obvious by the way your customers are behaving,
Go To Market
Understanding your different Ideal Customer Profiles, then figuring out how you market to them, what you want to sell to them and how you're going to convert them can't be left to chance.
Team Structure and Compensation
As you grow, so too does your team. When should you hire your first VP Sales? And how should your sales team's compensation plan work? It's not hard, but it's important.
Your Growth Strategy becomes central to your decision making once you start to gain traction. How do you create a Growth Mentality within your team?
Data can tell you what you've done and what's about to happen. But what are the key metrics fast-growing SaaS companies track? And what is considered 'good' from an industry perspective?
Let's start talking. Maybe we should work together now, or maybe the time's not right yet. But in any case, why not make a connection and we can go from there. No pressure!
I'll respond ASAP and look forward to learning more about you and your plans.In the meantime, if you haven't already, why not sign up to The Productize Newsletter.It comes out weekly and talks about all of this kind of stuff.