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Celebrating the small victories


#1

Hey everyone,

I think an important part of bootstrapping is being able (and needing) to celebrate the little victories that to outsiders might not look like much but to those of us in the trenches are the little glimmers of light we need to see from time to time to help us keep pushing on.

It took five months but I just had my 100th account sign up for http://www.pageproofer.com

When I first launched I was overly optimistic it would take no time at all to hit that goal. Then reality (and her evil sister the magnitude of the internet) set in and I realized it was going to take some hard work and hustle to get there.

100 might not sound like much to business owners, but it says a group of people have found a service useful and some of them have found it useful enough that they pay me each month for it. Not buckets full of money at this point but enough to cover hosting and other small costs and leave some money left over for a nice diner out with my wife.

Hitting that milestone validates the idea I had and the effort I’ve put in. My ratios for visitors to accounts to subscriptions seems on par with the numbers I have seen for other SAAS’s so that tells me regardless of all the mistakes I feel I have made something is working correctly and it’s only a matter of time and effort to grow the sign up number to a point where a sustainable business can happen.

Just wanted to share this with the larger community. Hopefully it will encourage someone else who is just getting started that it’s worth the effort.

Derrick


#2

Is that your 100th paid account sign-up? If so, that’s recurring monthly revenue of US$1,500, which is no small feat for five months.

There was a great foreword by Joel Spolsky in a book I once read. It talked about how once you have some monthly revenue, you then get the pleasure of tweaking things about your website, app, and processes, so that you can increase sales by 5%, then another 10%, then another 5%, and so on…until one day you realise you now have enough money to buy a skyscraper as your company headquarters. At least that’s how I remember it.


#3

@dgrigg Thanks for sharing and congratulations!


#4

100th account, 10 paying … Slow and steady


#5

@dgrigg Congrats! I’m at 140 trials and 10 paying with Briefmetrics, too. I know that feel and I’m excited for you! Great work and keep at it. :slight_smile:

Off to the next 1,000!


#6

So let me get this straight… You’ve:

  • Taken an idea and hashed it out into a viable business plan
  • Designed the software needed to support that model
  • Developed the software to work correctly
  • Marketed the product to get some signups
  • Seen growth in signups, and are now making an increasing income

That doesn’t sound like a small victory to me. That sounds like where 95% of the would-be entrepreneurs never reach.

I think our problem is that we tend to hang out with other entrepreneurs and listen to/read from folks who are very successful (and rightly so, as we want to learn from them). The problem is that we then tend to use that as a measuring stick instead of remembering where we’ve come from, and how many people don’t even get this far.


#7

Thanks Ryan, when you phrase it that way it does sound like a lot more than I realized.


#8

Congratulations! That is huge!

Another entrepreneur once told me that he celebrates his victories this way:

  1. First, for the very first customer
  2. Then for the 10th customer
  3. Then for the 100th customer
  4. Then for the 1,000th customer
  5. Then for the 10,000th customer

And so on…

He told me each can be exponentially harder than the last - and, paradoxically, easier, once you hit a tipping point, which varies from market to market. This kind of a scale kept him going because he realized the enormity of each milestone and let him know which number to aim for next.

Thanks again for sharing, and keep up the great work! I’m looking forward to another message from you when you hit your 1,000th account and 100th customer :smile:

P.S. 10 paying customers out of 100 accounts is a really damn good ratio!


#9

That is awesome, Derrick. I agree with what everyone is saying and I think Ryan really hit the nail on the head. I know for me I get caught up in building the actual product and then realize that building it isn’t even half of the battle, it’s just putting the armor on.

If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get the first 100 sign ups? What are you spending most of your marketing efforts on?

Congratulations again!

Mike


#11

Hey do you offer a discount? This is something I’d consider offering to my customers… so like an agency type of pricing plan?

I’m actually working with another customer to provide exactly this! I’ll ping you off-thread with details. :slight_smile:


#13

I’m 95% certain that I will never reach that point. So…seconded!

You’ve done a great job, dgrigg. Keep doing what you’re doing.


#14

@masuga thanks, I have read that post, part of the reason I was celebrating the 10. @Christopher thanks.


#15

10% conversion rate to paid is a great conversion percentage.

A lot of online businesses can only dream about that kind of figure.

In my “day job” I would say I find that 1% to 3% is typical.

Sounds like more than a small victory to me! Congrats.


#16

For B2B type businesses I’ve heard 10% trial to purchase conversion is fairly normal.

However you should still celebrate! It took me a long time to get past the 10% mark. Users get hung up on so many little things you just don’t know what you’re up against until you’ve put something out there. That you’re already at this point is an excellent sign.

With consumer products, especially those with a nice free edition the rate can typically be 1 to 3%.

I wish I had a reference for these numbers but I am recalling them from a talk @robwalling gave a few years ago.


#17

There’s some recent SAAS numbers here http://groovehq.com/blog/saas-conversion-survey-results around sign ups, conversions etc.


#18

These conversion rates are for downloadable software, but I suspect they aren’t that different for SAAS:


#19

10% is a real surprise for me. The B2B businesses I’ve met through my agency work are generally lower than 10% - on visitor-to-paid and/or trial-to-paid. Free user to paid, well, perhaps don’t go there ;0)

@Oliver I was wondering if I could ask you something please? When you managed to get past the 10%, did your free trial require a credit card up front or could they trial without? Thanks.


#20

I have talked to few SAAS owners and everyone said 10% was outstanding. I’m hoping I can stay around there and it’s not just a case of the numbers waiting to catch up.


#21

I think you have a really good chance of staying there.

I am sure I read somewhere that products that are used by web industry people tend to convert better than other SAAS products (sorry, I can’t find the article), so you are in a good ‘sector’.

Anyway, congrats again.


#22

@simong I have never asked for a credit card to sign up for the trial.

@dgrigg I think you should be able to stay there.

I think if you have a B2B service/product with no free option and you’re not close to 10% it is worthwhile to take a good look at why.

In my experience the key is to ensure that the onboarding flow is such that after about 10~20 minutes a first-time user who just signed up has accomplished enough and can see how they will get done what they came to get done. If there are any bugs, or confusing workflows, or things that aren’t clear, you’re stacking the odds against yourself: if they don’t get past step 2 they won’t get to your purchase page, period.

This means (among other things) paying very close attention to what your product looks like to a new user. When you are busy programming it you probably have some default data loaded into it. But what does it look like when there is no data? Is it just a bunch of blank boxes? Is there an obvious first thing to do? What about the words used in the interface? Sometimes when we code we think too much like programmers and write the interface words with that mentality. It’ll make sense to you but you, but what about your users?

There is a lot to this, but the lesson I learned is that most of your “spit and polish” budget should be spent on the first few interactions your new users will have with your product.