An Entrepreneur’s Guide to SaaS Business Models for 2023 for Beginners

Abhi Garg
  • By  Sanjay Singh
  • clock 12 mins read
  • calendar Updated: Mar 27, 2023


In order to become successful with a SaaS business, it’s not enough to build one. You also have to implement a SaaS business model. Read on to learn all you need to know about implementing a SaaS business model and why it’s essential.

Over the last two years, the SaaS industry has seen many new startups emerge, with many of them becoming unicorns, as well as remote and hybrid working with collaboration and productivity tools becoming more common.

You may have done sufficient research, selected some exciting SaaS business ideas, or even prepared a business plan as a result of this course.

In order to keep your business running, making a profit, and sustaining challenges, you must have a SaaS business model.

SaaS business models: what are they?

Business models for SaaS are blueprints that show how a company will operate, earn revenue, and remain afloat in the market as a SaaS business. SaaS business models are based on hosting software in the cloud (which can be accessed through a web browser) and charging users a monthly fee for its use.

Since we run our SaaS business online rather than traditionally, we face different challenges. As a result, SaaS businesses are generally more complex and require a good deal of coding and design knowledge.

In the hyper-competitive SaaS business space, a SaaS business model will help you avoid any business challenges.

Business model example for SaaS

In the market today are many SaaS companies, including Slack, Zoom, Clickup, Trello, Netflix, etc. Each of these companies has a different SaaS business model. Different companies operate differently, charge customers differently (some charge a one-time fee, while others charge a subscription fee), and generate different revenue.

The various SaaS-based remote work stacks are also worth a look.

Business models for SaaS

SaaS business models come in many formats. Although, we can broadly categorize them as follows:

1. Business Model for SaaS

It helps you understand how to monetize your SaaS product and at what price. At the same time, it helps you determine your target audience and how to market your product.

SaaS revenue models can be categorised as follows:

A. Revenue model based on advertising

As a result of generating significant traffic on your website or app, you can sell ad space to companies for their ad views instead of charging them for using it.

You can do this in two ways:

  • Offering specific advertisers direct access to page space
  • Identify relevant ads in your area using a third-party ad system like Google AdSense.

B. Business model for affiliates

You can earn money from your content by using affiliate links instead of directly earning money from people viewing it, which makes this SaaS revenue model similar to ad revenue models.

The only downside is that you might end up annoying your viewers with unnecessary ads, but you might earn more revenue than by simply placing ads on your product.

C. Sales channels

Various brands selling products on Amazon or other eCommerce sites are examples of this SaaS revenue model. Instead of selling your own product/service, you hire resellers who have a large audience.

D. Selling directly to consumers

With this SaaS revenue model, you sell directly to consumers. While that’s a positive, you’ll have to hire a sales team to achieve sales, which can cost a fortune. The downside is that you’ll have to pay a reseller for revenue sharing.

E. Model with a free tier

You can give potential customers a sneak peak at your product before they decide to spend their hard-earned cash on it by using a freemium SaaS revenue model. If they do not see a benefit, customers are reluctant to spend their money.

F. Business Model for Subscription Revenues

SaaS revenue models include Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, which generate revenue by charging customers regular fees.

2. Model for pricing SaaS services

The SaaS pricing model involves us determining the price of your software product. It is important because software pricing should be based on informed decisions, and it is also important to analyze your competition to set prices with a competitive advantage.

There are a few models that are always successful for SaaS pricing:

A. Cost-per-unit

There is no customization at first, but we can adjust the price plan to accommodate different packages as traffic increases. This is the most straightforward SaaS pricing model, offering a flat fee on an annual or monthly basis for a service. Adding new and better services to the product is also an option.

B. Pricing based on each individual user

As a result of the simplicity of this pricing model, it has become quite popular in SaaS companies. The pricing is affordable for small and mid-sized businesses as it can be expensive for large-scale enterprises, who would rather use SaaS software with a one-time cost.

C. Price tiers

Pricing is divided into different plans, each of which has a different price depending on what it includes. A plan with more features is more expensive.

Make sure your plans are tailored to your different buyer personas. For small businesses, offer a free plan and for large enterprises, offer a plan with more robust features and pricing.

D. An on-demand payment model

As a result of this pricing plan, cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are popular. As with paying an electricity bill, subscribers only pay for what they use. They rent the service, use it until they need it again, and repay the amount they pay.

3. Model for distributing SaaS services

We consider the method of distributing SaaS offerings to consumers, as well as the distribution model. There are two types of SaaS distribution models:

  • A direct distribution method involves your staff and technical assets directly selling to customers through your website, telephone-based sales force, and video conferencing.
  • Distributing directly to your customers is not possible. Indirect distribution involves using third parties to reach and sell your products.

Your budget and goals will influence the type of SaaS distribution model you choose.

5 reasons why SaaS business models are so compelling

It is because SaaS offers some compelling advantages that make it the best business model. Here are the most notable ones:

1. A competitive edge is gained by innovation at a rapid pace

Cloud computing gives you greater innovation scope, which could lead to an unconventional product that could disrupt the market. SaaS product adoption rates can be upscaled when you launch a new product faster in the market. Unlike others, who are still brainstorming how to launch traditional in-house software, you will offer value through the cloud, allowing you to stay one step ahead of your competitors.

A SaaS application such as SampleBoard can give you a competitive edge. Rosslyn Tebbutt at SampleBoard wanted to create a SaaS application that could aid in visual design concept development. With the agile software development method, Net Solutions developed a custom product that stood out in the designer market.

2. The minimum marketing effort is achieved when the product meets the market’s needs

You can improve your product-market fit if you have your SaaS product accessible to your target audience.

Furthermore, users will recommend the product to their friends and family, reducing your marketing efforts and increasing SaaS sales.

3. Providing Value Anywhere, Anytime

In a SaaS model, you can make your services available 24×7, anywhere and anytime. Companies that are affected by COVID-19 can benefit from this remote, all-time access. Cloud-based applications have been used to collaborate, communicate, and continue daily tasks in companies operating in the cloud.

You will succeed in achieving Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) if you enter the market now with an idea that addresses the needs of the target audience.

4. Iteration through the MVP is more rapid with a faster time to market

A SaaS-based product has the advantage of not requiring installation, and instead it uses the World Wide Web for access. This eliminates the lengthy process of building an organization’s product and even its MVP.

5. Income Predictability Helps Reduce Churn Rate

CRM dashboards provide insight into your product’s performance on the market by monitoring the information on your deployed CRM dashboards, which are typically one-time costs.

The churn rate can be reduced by analyzing yourself and your competitors if growth declines.

Business model disadvantages associated with SaaS

1. Conversion takes longer

Customer’s are reluctant to adopt SaaS solutions, especially if the service is expensive. Companies have a long sales process that involves sales representatives, live product demos, and team orientations.

2. The business model can be easily emulated

Whenever you grow and succeed, competitors emerge and try to copy your success. Unfortunately, copying your success becomes easier in SaaS business models. You become one of many companies selling SaaS products or services when your competitors can easily figure out your pricing structure, marketing strategy, sales strategy, and email campaigns from the web.

3. Competitors are fierce

In order to keep your SaaS business afloat you need to stay one step ahead of your competitors and find new ways to engage your users. Even the smallest oversight in product design or marketing strategy can cost you valuable customers.

4. Security threats are common in SaaS businesses

It is no secret that SaaS businesses are susceptible to cybercrime and data loss. With so many cybercrime incidents, these cyber threats are a key concern for SaaS businesses.

Data loss has been unrecoverable for 43% of organizations within the past 12 months, and business disruption has been unrecoverable for 63% of organizations. – International Data Corporation

5. Running and scaling a business requires a large amount of capital

Managing and scaling a SaaS business is difficult. It takes a lot of information to scale a business idea. Data analytics would help you make more informed decisions. To ensure you have resolved your customers’ problems on time, a product development team needs to be on staff, a customer service team needs to be on staff, and a marketing team needs to be on staff to drive customers through the sales funnel. Without capital, you won’t be able to survive for long.

SaaS Business Model Implementation: How Do You Do It?

You should be focusing on developing a product-market fit SaaS solution. (Knowing how PoCs, MVPs, and prototypes work will help you understand the process better.)

For a successful SaaS business plan implementation, you must follow the following steps:

  • Develop an idea that will change the world.
  • In order to validate the product idea, create a proof of concept if necessary.
  • It is important to develop a prototype so the product can be seed funded.
  • Using the freemium model, develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to establish a basic version of the product for users to give feedback on.
  • Create a full-blown product after learning from the feedback
  • Plan your pricing strategy around the SaaS model that is most appropriate for your business
  • The cycle of marketing, iterating, growing, and repeating is the most effective

For SaaS success, here are 6 essential metrics

Tracking revenue, churn, leads, etc., is crucial to ensuring your company continues to grow at the desired rate. Here are some essential SaaS metrics to remember:

1. Number of customers leaving a company

You can measure your business’ efficiency by measuring customer churn rate over time.

To understand why customers leave and how to retain them, make sure you are not just digging up the numbers when measuring churn rate.

2. Churn of revenues

It is essential to keep an eye on revenue churn, especially if some customers generate more revenue than others or have different impacts over time.

In order to avoid being shocked at the massive differences in numbers, we recommend measuring both customer churn rate and revenue churn.

3. Value of a customer over time (CLV)

A customer’s lifetime value is determined by their revenue generated over the course of their interactions with your brand. Here’s how you can calculate the CLV:

Cost of acquiring and maintaining customers (Customer revenue x customer life-time)

You can use this SaaS metric to determine how valuable a customer is, based on how long they use your service.

4. The cost of acquiring a new customer (CAC)

An organization’s customer acquisition cost is determined by the amount of marketing and sales efforts invested to acquire customers. Here’s how to calculate it:

During a given period, total sales and marketing expenditures/new customers added

5. Recovering CAC takes months

When a customer starts generating ROI for your business, we measure how long it will take to generate enough revenue to cover the costs associated with acquiring them.

A month’s CAC can be calculated as follows: Customer Acquisition Cost/Monthly Recurring Revenue x Gross Margin (gross revenue – cost of sales)

6. Engaged Customers Score

It is calculated based on the number of times a customer logs on, the amount of time they spend on the product, and any other sign that their interest in the product will lead them to make a purchase.

Tracking your customer engagement score can be done by considering the following inputs:

  • Engagement with your product/service: The frequency with which you are used by the client.
  • Customer Engagement: How often do customers attend your product-related webinars and events.
  • Are your clients active members of the community?
  • Do you have active advocates for your product in your client base?

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few things to remember to choose a reliable mobile app development partner:
  • Choose a partner that cares about its clients.
  • Never compromise on technology experience and domain expertise.
  • Check out your development partners’ portfolios, customer testimonials, and references.
  • Observe how they approach communication and how much they pay attention to your vision.
  • Ask the right questions to help you choose easily.
Here are a few reasons why India is one of the preferred outsourcing destinations:
  • The average outsourcing charges in India are $18 – $40, which is way more affordable than in developed countries like the USA, $38 – $63.
  • India has a large pool of native-English speakers who’re highly proficient in their work.
  • With an Indian outsourcing partner, you can access 24×7 support and specialized IT talent.
Depending on the complexity of a mobile app, it can take several weeks to several months to develop it. An app like Uber takes around 1200 hours to develop. On the other hand, a dating app like Tinder can be developed in 1000 hours.
Pricing-wise, freelancers appear to be more affordable. However, they offer no accountability for your mobile app. You can’t hold them accountable if the app doesn’t turn out to be as expected. On the other hand, an app development agency takes complete responsibility for your mobile app. Hence, an app development agency is better than a freelancer.

Do you have an exciting mobile app idea in mind?

We can help you to build a mobile app on an affordable budget. Contact us!

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