1. SaaS METRIC OF THE WEEK: TTV - Time To Value: Time to value is similar to ROI (return on investment), but instead of realizing the financial success of an investment, it implies achieving the effectiveness of an investment or for a customer to realize value out of your product. There is also a corollary "trough of disillusionment" your customers may need to navigate.
2. PLANNING #1: Mike Tyson put it well - "Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth." 2023's rising cost and startup land churn have been a metaphorical one-two-face punch. So, read here from an article by Lucas F. Costa on why long-term plans don't work (and how to fix them).
3. PLANNING #2: But the ying to the yang above, if you need to be better at planning, this is a great article on planning from First Round Capital and includes lessons learned from some of the best planners (along with their processes) at AirBnB and Eventbrite - it's a very deep read and has some fantastic templates (including the "W Framework") for you to put to work.
4. PLANNING #3: This year has sped by for me, and for many of you, your calendar EOY is Financial EOY - so question: How Dynamic Is Your Revenue Plan for 2024? Adding on to #2 above, who knows what new mouth-punch could stall or even reverse your growth aspirations next year, so it's time to pull operational techniques from other departments (i.e., your Dev squads Agile ways) to create a more dynamic revenue plan - take a good read of this article from SBI for hot tips on avoiding poor Sales-based strategic planning. It even comes with an (OK-ish) downloadable planning tool (which I took the liberty to snag and sacrifice my email address for you). First Round Capital feels the same way - Annual Planning is Killing Your Growth - but take a different tack - building a three-year plan!
5. SPEND: Question - How much do you plan on spending on your 2024 operational plan? SaaS Capital has a wonderful B2B SaaS Spending Benchmark report to best forecast what to send on sales, marketing, CS, COGS, and R&D. And because 2024 will continue to be a year of LeanOps - here is how to manage burn and extend your runway into 2024 from Capchase.
6. GROWTH: Growth ownership varies across the SaaS Spectrum, but according to this analysis from OpenView Partners, sales teams dominate in sales-led companies, handling most revenue and influencing KPIs, while on the opposing side, in product-led companies, product management plays a bigger role, owning activation and self-serve revenue. Growth teams often lack clear KPI ownership. Marketing typically handles sign-ups/leads, and customer success focuses on retention.
7. SALES: See the above article about sales-owned growth - Jason Lemkin adds strategic and tactical value this week. In 2024, sales teams face efficiency demands, requiring a 4x-5x return on their earnings. So here are his 15 ways to help your Sales Team next year.
8. LAYOFFS: Not quite a rosy outlook for 2024 - according to this article from Crunchbase, high-interest rates, funding challenges, and tighter budgets mean that Tech layoffs persist into Q4 of 2023, Amazon and Google included. Layoffs are nowhere near their peak at the start of the year as some post-COVID factors have stabilized. Still, layoffs are expected to continue into next year due to economic uncertainty and fewer hiring announcements, except in areas like generative AI.
9. META: There is a lot we still need to learn about the impact of social media, in particular those operated by Meta (Facebook, Instagram, etc). Last week, Meta launched their new Meta Content Library and API. This gives select researchers access to public data on Facebook and Instagram. This initiative aims to improve transparency about social media impact and how people use their platforms. This move is a response to regulatory pressure (and public demand) for more insight into social media's societal impact.
10. CASE STUDY: How moving to Freemium stalled Equals' growth. Initially, removing barriers like onboarding calls and payment requirements led to a user surge but resulted in stalled growth and poor engagement. It is a great lesson about how onboarding is more about convincing users to continue rather than just product accessibility, and sometimes adding friction is beneficial for long-term user activation and retention.
POD OF THE WEEK: Failures! From Nick Mehta, CEO at Gainsight - his Top 10 Failures as a SaaS CEO & what he's learned.