I spent the last year building 3 SaaS apps that no one wanted.

I’m a developer, not a marketer. I enjoy building apps. I love the process of going from an idea to design to development to a fully working app that can be downloaded from the App Store.

But that’s not enough to succeed in the startups world.

I built it and they didn’t come.

I learned a lot of lessons from this experience. And I’m going to share my experience with you so you can avoid wasting your time building products that no one wants.

1# Act like a business owner

Here’s the thing: if you want to become a business owner, you need to act like a business owner. If you just want to do the coding stuff, you either go work as a developer in another company or look for a co-founder who can do marketing for you.

I learned this lesson the hard way. Your ideas are not absolute truths. If you think your product is amazing it’s just your opinion, and you need to validate your idea to see if others think about your app the same way you do.

Chances are they don’t.

They will give you feedback, they will tell you what they like and don’t like about your app. If they’re willing to give you their email addresses to be a part of the beta testing, that’s a validation.

If users think your idea sucks, that’s good too. At least you knew from the beginning that it won’t succeed. Just accept it and build something else.

2# Must have vs nice to have

It’s easy to think that your product is solving an urgent problem for users when that problem is actually less important than you think.

Your product is either nice to have or must have. Must have products have higher chances of success. Users are willing to pay premium prices for these problems because they’re solving a critical problem they have.

I’m not saying that “nice to have” products always fail. But if you’re going to spend 2–3 years building a SaaS startup, it’s better be an important problem rather than something “nice to have”.

3# Marketing from day 1

In short, don’t wait until the product is ready to start marketing. You won’t have a bunch of people waiting in line to use your product when you put it live!

Instead, start marketing your product before writing a single line of code. Here are 3 steps to do that:

  • Set up a landing page with a subscription form to start collecting emails from people who may be interested in your product.
  • Set up a Twitter account for your product and start publishing at least 1 tweet every single day. With time, the algorithm will reward you and your account will start showing to more people.
  • Share high quality content related to your niche. You can do that by writing Medium articles, posting YouTube videos, or simply sharing threads on Twitter. But make sure your content is valuable and make sure to keep doing that consistently.

I don’t regret spending last year building a failing startup. It’s true that I didn’t make money from my apps, but at least I learned these valuable lessons that I’m going to apply in my next startup.