Being the CEO of a B2B SaaS company can be an exciting and rewarding job, but it’s certainly not without its challenges. Not only is there the matter of running your business, you also have to motivate people, earn their loyalty and support, and convince them to embark on a difficult journey with you. Plus, when you’re the boss, everyone looks to you for answers, even when you don’t always have them.
Of course, no matter whether you’re a first-time CEO or a seasoned veteran, the more effective you are in your role, the better your company will perform. To help, let’s look at five pieces of actionable advice that every SaaS CEO can take to heart. Follow this advice, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring the long-term success of your business.
1. Put your people first
We all know how important people are and that you need to hire the best talent possible. But once you’ve got them on board, the real work is just beginning. That’s because you also need to look after them, support and nurture them, and ensure that you’re communicating a vision while enabling them to do their best work. Simply put, if your employees aren’t happy in their roles and don’t believe in what you’re doing, they never going to be as invested in the success of the business as you are.
Make sure to demonstrate that you care about your people. Whether that’s through financial incentives, team building activities, or even taking the time to say thank you or congratulate individuals on a job well done, there are lots of ways to make your employees feel valued and engaged. Giving them a clear career path and development opportunities is important, too. While all common sense, these and other things can often fall by the wayside when work gets busy. Neglect them for too long, however, and you may find your top talent walking out the door.
2. Obsess over your customers
SaaS businesses live and die by their customers. Since SaaS is a recurring subscription, keeping customers is paramount to running a successful business. As such, your customers have to be central to everything you do. You need to focus on their needs, always try to take their feedback on board, and continually strive to deliver the most value you can.
Of course, as CEO, your role will likely evolve as the company grows. Over time, you’ll inevitably find yourself less directly involved with your customers. That’s when you need to have a solid team in place, not only oversee the sales process and then to manage ongoing customer success. Invest heavily in these functions and make sure that you’re hiring people who will deliver the same level of service to your customers that you would.
3. Get a great coach or mentor
No matter where you are in your career, having a coach or mentor can be invaluable. The fact is, even when you reach the top, you still need to regularly challenge yourself to learn, grow, and continuously improve. Not only that, you’ll likely find that you need a sounding board, someone whom you can confide in, and a trusted person you can go to for advice. A great coach or mentor knows what challenges you face and will push you to achieve more, point out where you might be going wrong, and be on call to lend you their support. They know where you’re at because they’re veterans who have been there before themselves.
4. Lead by example
You’re the boss. That means you have to set the example that you want everyone else in your company to follow. If it’s crunch time and you expect your team to put in long hours, you’d better be right there in the trenches with them, staying late even if you don’t actually need to, and offering your help. Always demonstrate the kind of behavior you expect from your employees. Whether that’s adopting a certain work ethic, having good communication skills, or simple being honest and transparent, however you act will dictate how others in the organization do.
5. Develop a vision, values, and mission and stick to them
If your people don’t have a cohesive understanding of what you want to achieve, what the company represents, and how it works, you’re missing a great opportunity to build a strong, unified, and successful business. Sure, being the market leader is a good objective, but that’s not necessarily enough to galvanize your team around. You also need a vision, values, and a mission, and to clearly articulate them to your employees.
Think about what guides what you do and how you would like your company to be known. Then solidify those qualities and embed them in every area of your business. If you don’t already have a vision, values, and a mission in place or feel stuck, you can get your employees involved in creating them. Vision and mission drives people and the company forward, while values define the culture of your organization. They are what binds everything together and what builds a forward-looking company.
Advice you can act on right now
It’s never too early or too late to become a great CEO. Following the simple steps outlined above will make a world of difference in how you manage your business and your people. Take care to follow this advice, and you’ll find that you become a more effective leader and that your business’s success continues to grow.