How to learn from slow growth and change your platform to perform better and beat the competition
As SaaS companies mature and scale, it's likely that they to find themselves hitting a growth slump. Whether they entered a saturated market, met unexpected competition, or lost confidence in their early customer base - understanding how to adapt and learn from your product when growth slows is key to scalable success.
A growth stall is almost inevitable, every major tech startup has seen this phase. It's how you and your team respond to the stall that can guarantee sustained growth or result in closing down the product.
These recommendations will give you options that have worked for successful scaled companies in the past and help you avoid expensive and unnecessary pitfalls along the way.
Understand what is working and double down
Digging into your platforms metrics will naturally be the first thing you do.
You should already be clear on your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and know what is working and what isn't. While many people look for problem areas that need attention, they ignore the areas and features of the platform that are doing well. By focusing on better understanding these areas whether they are features, user experiences or marketing drivers, you can improve what is already working and make it more efficient and effective. This may buy you some time to test and fix features that are problematic and require more attention.
Expand your data bank
While analyzing the metrics you are already set, consider expanding your data bank to gather more comprehensive data. You may not be seeing the whole picture, and having a wider understanding of how people are finding your product, what their on-boarding and early experiences are like, and what their ongoing interactions are with the platform can help you identify the true problem areas. Don't fix what's not broken. Before you start rebuilding parts of your product, make sure you have all the information to make the right decisions.
Ask the hard questions
The early stages of a startup require employees to be loyalists at all costs. To believe against the odds that what they are building will be better. By "drinking the kool-aid" they allow themselves to do amazing work, but they can also develop blind spots keeping them from asking difficult questions. When your product hits a slump, it's time to refocus and reassess some of your earliest product discovery questions to find any significant changes or shifts.
- Is your customer still the same?
- Has the market changed? Are there any new players?
- Have any large companies started to encroach on your product/vision?
- Does your pricing still make sense for the market?
Take a moonshot
Fixing bugs and improving small features is a necessary part of moving your product past a growth stall. But instead of incremental changes to features that aren't performing well, look at the data and focus on the large-scale projects that may provide the biggest positive impact if they were done well. Fixing localized problems one-at-a-time can be time-consuming without guarantee that it will significantly improve the platform.
Consider the work that goes into repetitive testing and adjusting a pricing page that isn't performing well. This process to increase localized output can only lead to incremental improvements. Instead, try rethinking how your whole pricing process, experimenting with a new style, design, and process that may drastically improve a user's experience.
Getting beyond local is essential to continuing to unlock new growth. These moonshot bets are a product's best defense against the incremental processes that can lead to growth stalls in the first place.
If you need support updating your platform after it's hit a Growth Stall - our team of strategists and full-stack developers can help. We offer consulting, design and development support and can working alongside your current dev team to fix and refactor your legacy platform so you don't fall behind your growth schedule.