The challenges of building SaaS for non-technical founders

The challenges of building SaaS for non-technical founders

As a software engineer I've realise how important is having empathy for everyone involved in the process of developing software: business people, product people, designers, other developers and most importantly, the users of the product.

In the last month, I've had the pleasure to interview 8 non-technical business owners who have built, or are building a software product. Also, I had experience with helping 3 startups to create and/or grow their product.

I found many interesting insights, which I can group in the following categories:

  1. Challenges with developers
  2. Challenges with outsourcing
  3. Challenges with product management
  4. Challenges with scaling up teams
  5. Other challenges

Challenges with developers

  • It can be frustrating to work with developers because they are generally stuck in their own ways and they are not very keen to change
  • Selfless developers who have a business mindset, who want to understand the why behind a feature, and are proactive, are the ones business owners love to work with
  • On the other hand, it is challenging to work with very technical developers who just want to get the specifications and develop them like without asking questions
  • The first hire is essential, it could make a difference between wasting tons of time and money in building low-quality software and having a robust, successful first version of the product
  • Communication with developers is a big issue:
    • It isn’t easy to communicate exactly what you want, and that is often misunderstood
    • It isn’t easy to communicate the vision of what you want to build
    • Having a great written and spoken English definitely helps

Challenges with freelancers and agencies

  • Freelancers are not always reliable and if they disappear, they take with them the core of the business, the most important asset: the software itself!
  • Working with agencies can be frustrating because you need to wait in line for features to be developed and bugs to be solved
  • No one is passioned about your idea as you are
  • If a customer is pissed off, and a problem needs to be fixed asap, that’s not their priority. Unless you’re willing to pay more!

Challenges with product management

  • Biz owners usually act as product managers, giving directions to the in-house/outsourced team. It did work well with people with some knowledge in the field, but it didn’t for others who just improvised: one of them wasted 70k in building useless features, and 20%-30% of the feature built. Another one spent 2 years developing a product, just to find out that no one wanted to use it afterward
  • Some biz owners believe that talking with users is a waste of time and that they have everything figured out

Challenges with bigger teams

  • When the product is launched and the team grows, a lack of good software development culture slows things down, creates tension between the devs and the business, the devs and the users and the number of bugs / wrong features increases
  • It is beneficial to think about culture and processes from the beginning, not when the company has already multiple teams


  • Some biz owners love no-code, they would rather start with that and only if necessary hire a developer
  • Biz owners never worry about internal software quality, but they just accept that “it works”
  • Some biz owners understate to effort it takes to build features right and that always came with more time/money spent than initially planned

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