So, you’ve just secured a round of mega funding for your SaaS. Congratulations! It seems like only yesterday when you were worried about how to keep the lights on. Despite a rollercoaster ride of trial and error, successes and failures, and many sleepless nights, you persevered. Now, with a big infusion of new cash, you’re looking at a longer runway than you ever imagined. Now you can breathe easy, right?
Well, you would think so. Very soon, though, the excitement and relief you felt when you first got your funding starts to fade, giving way to a new kind of stress. You’re beginning to realize the full weight of new expectations that came with that funding. Now, you have investors, and they expect you to double the $10 million in ARR that took you more than five years to achieve, in just one year!
How are you going to do that?!?
The stakes are higher than ever. If you miss your targets now, the cost to your business can be enormous. The doubt sets in. What if you end up with a $1 million shortfall in ARR? That could impact your company’s valuation by tens of millions of dollars, which would have cascading effects on future funding rounds. What if you have a bigger shortfall? Will you even be able to meet your targets?
As you’re working through dreaded scenarios in your head, you realize that the complexity in your business has grown right along with your ARR up to this point, which is already making it harder to get back on track when you miss your targets. Your people are stretched to the max now. Can you really pull this off? How will you meet your investors’ expectations?
You need a whole new plan, and you need one fast.
The challenge in SaaS planning
Planning is critical to SaaS business success, but it remains a very difficult challenge for SaaS founders and CFOs. It’s like using a paper map to find your way from an airport to a hotel in a big city you’ve never visited before. How do you decide which route to take?
Growing a SaaS business is a journey with a multitude of different options because every business is unique. Unfortunately, there’s no universal map to tell you how to hit your new, ambitious targets.
But, you got this…right? It’s not as if you’ve never had to adjust your plans. Your business has certainly changed over time. In the early years, you had to focus on finding your product-market fit so sales naturally took a back seat. Eventually, you were able to shift your focus to building your customer base and improving customer experience. Every shift you made in your business required adjustments to your financial plan.
This is no different. That’s what you tell yourself anyway. In the back of your mind, though, you know that the complexity in your business today is nothing like it was in those earlier years, and that’s going to make planning much more difficult this time around.
In your gut, you know you’re in a completely new place now, and the way you used to do planning probably won’t work now. Still, you go with what you know. You start building your plan, with lots of emails to different teams to gather all the information you need to plug into all your different spreadsheets, each with a bunch of different calculations.
After hammering on this for about a week, you finally get some results. You’re reasonably confident your numbers are correct (hoping, anyway). With all the different dimensions in your business factored into your equations (different regions, variable pricing models, etc.) errors are all too common.
Now, you’re staring at your results, desperately looking for some insight to tell you what to do next. With so many interdependent variables in your business, how do you know which ones will have the biggest or fastest impact?
To model all the different decisions you’re considering to see their effects would take weeks at best and you have to start growing your revenue now. So, despite your uncertainty, you make your best guesses based on the results you have and develop your plan, charting a new course that (hopefully) will drive your business toward your new targets.
How do you course-correct if you take a wrong turn?
With your new map in hand, you jump in the car and start driving to your destination. Pretty soon, though, you get the feeling that you may have taken a wrong turn but you’re not sure. So, you pull over to take another look at the map to try to figure out where you are. Invariably, you discover you have indeed taken a wrong turn and worse, you’ve been traveling in the wrong direction for a while and you wonder, how much time have you lost?
Similarly, if there’s a mistake in your plan that causes you to take a wrong turn in your business, the consequences can be disastrous, especially if you don’t discover it in time to course correct. Remember that $1 million shortfall you were worried about? Now, you’re looking at a $3 million shortfall that your plan didn’t predict, and your company’s valuation just dropped by $30 million! How do you get back on track now?
SaaS founders and CFOs need better tools to build reliable plans that will get them where they need to go. And, they need to be able to monitor their progress along the way, so they can quickly respond to changing market conditions that can take them off course.
You need a “Google Maps” for your business
Today, when you’re planning a trip to a new city and want to map out the route from the airport to your hotel, you probably wouldn’t use a paper map. You’re going to pull out your smart phone and plug that destination into an app like Google Maps.
Google Maps not only makes planning easier by showing you the different routes you can take, it also adds predictability to your journey. For example, you can tell the application to avoid toll roads and highways, and instantly you’ll be given different options along with estimated travel times.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a tool like Google Maps for your SaaS business, one that would help you find the best way to drive your business toward your targets? With a tool like Google Maps, building a reliable plan would be easy because it would be able to:
- Reflect all the complexity in your business, the same way Google Maps reflects all the different potential routes you could take.
- Automatically aggregate all the data you need from different sources into one simple interface, just like Google Maps aggregates data for roads, businesses, public transportation information, and road construction into one single layer so you can see the full picture, everything you need to know.
- Model different scenarios for your plan to see the results, like Google Maps lets you choose different routes and adjusts the expected travel time accordingly.
- Monitor your progress so you can course correct the same way your Google Maps uses GPS to tell you where you are in real time. That little blue dot on your Google Maps app can help you get back on track instantly.
Given how dynamic the SasS industry is, building a solid plan doesn’t guarantee that you’ll meet your targets. After all, even with the best plan based on modeled insights, you can still find yourself in a situation where you need to course-correct. Maybe market conditions changed and drove your churn higher than expected, or you planned for three new account reps and you really needed four to reach your target.
So, you’d also want your FP&A tool to help you monitor your progress along the way. Just like watching the blue dot in Google Maps can help you quickly see when you’ve taken a wrong turn, your FP&A tool should help you identify problems as they’re unfolding, not at the end of the quarter. And with the ability to model different scenarios based on current data, you would be able to quickly determine exactly what you need to do to get back on track now.
The good news is that such a tool now exists. Drivetrain is the Google Maps for your business. At Drivetrain, we’re building a better way to plan, one that takes hours, not weeks, and one that allows you to fully model the complexity in your business so you can make data-driven decisions. Drivetrain is a strategic finance platform that puts you in control, giving you the power to move your business in the right direction to achieve predictable growth. Contact us today to map your journey toward faster, more reliable growth with Drivetrain.