Last updated on November 20, 2017
Last week, I had 4 fires to put out at Sumo in one day. 🔥
This isn’t that unusual…
Everyone thinks being an entrepreneur is glamorous. But they don’t know…
Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE what I do, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Omar Zenhom, the founder of WebinarNinja, shares similar experiences.
When Omar joined me on Noah Kagan Presents, he was VERY open. He shared what it’s like to REALLY build a SaaS company… ups-and-downs.
If you run a SaaS company, or you’re thinking of starting a business, you’ll love this post.
Let me tell you a secret about successful entrepreneurs…
We fail. And we fail a lot.
I’ve had way more unsuccessful business and terrible ideas than successful ones — for example, look no further than my taco t-shirt idea.
I wanted to find famous artists online to draw their favorite tacos and sell limited prints of them. I found my first designer, got things going…
And then no one wanted to buy.
Even when I hit up my close friends, I got ZERO interest.
Another time I wasted $82,000 building an online fantasy sports game that no one wanted to play.
Everyone makes mistakes and Omar is no different.
One of his first businesses seriously bombed.
Because he’d previously made some money through webinars, Omar decided to put together a “DIY Webinar” course to help others get better at webinars.
On the surface, it seemed like a good idea…
But Omar only made two sales — and one of those resulted in a chargeback. 🙈
The biggest mistake you can make is NOT validating that people want your idea.
Omar soon realized that what people really wanted was a tool to create webinars for them… not a course they had to sit, learn, and do everything manually.
Laziness wins. 😛
The biggest lesson here is to understand what customers will buy before you do anything else.
After the course failed, Omar was back to square one.
He had a successful podcast, The $100 MBA, but Omar knew he wanted to create a SaaS company because it was a new challenge.
I see all the things I've done kind of stepping stones. I had to go through the teaching phase and the grind of a job in order to get frustrated enough to want to become an entrepreneur.
Omar began to scratch his own itch and create something he wanted to use for himself.
He knew there wasn’t a great option to easily start and run a webinar, so he hacked together a simple webinar tool combining a few already available options.
After he’d used his new webinar tool for a few of his own webinars, a couple of people reached out to Omar asking what tool he used for his webinars.
They wanted to buy it.
But Omar didn’t want to waste time creating something people say they wanted… but never bought.
To lower his risk, Omar pre-sold the software as an idea before spending money on a developer.
He created a simple one-page website and sent a message to The $100 MBA mailing list of about 30,000 people.
Within 24 hrs, 150 people had pre-purchased. 😲
Omar told himself if 250 people paid, he’d build it.
48 hrs later, he sold out.
No marketing. No crazy promotions. No ads. WOW.
If you want to validate a business idea of your own:
The #1 thing that surprised Omar about starting a SaaS company was how quickly things can get expensive.
The cost is another reason why it’s so essential to pre-sell and make sure you have money in the bank to cover costs like:
When you’re bootstrapping a SaaS business, every decision you make is affecting not just your business finances, but your personal bank balance too.
WebinarNinja might be a multi-million dollar business now, but what no one outside of the company sees is how slowly Omar had to scale.
It’s about pacing yourself
And I think that’s a really important thing for founders to think about.
It’s easy to look at Sumo as an eight-figure business and think that’s where you want to be.
But what you don’t see are the YEARS of work it took for us to be able to grow.
You have to be realistic about what you can achieve and not expect the world overnight.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur takes a ton of time and more work than most wantrepreneurs can imagine.
Once you’ve validated your idea and got some paying customers, you need to pace yourself and set realistic goals.
For more on Omar’s journey from taking WebinarNinja from a idea to a successful business, listen to the podcast below.
Plus a TON more.