Travelling is what this blog is all about, but there’s one question that crops up again and again when it comes to discussing the nomadic lifestyle – that is, how to fund your trips away?
It’s a difficult issue to tackle because being transient means locking down a job is out of the question, so one has to think outside the box and utilise technology to generate a location independent income.
This concept is nothing new – I get that – it has been discussed in in books like the 4 hour workweek and hundreds of podcast episodes on itunes, so for this post I want to just look at one avenue of income you may not have thought of – starting a SAAS business.
What is a SAAS Business?
Software as a service is a delivery model whereby the user of the software pays a monthly fee to use software (which is usually hosted in the cloud, rather than on the users servers), as opposed to a one off license fee.
This gives users the benefit of flexibility (no high initial fee, cancel anytime), and gives the SAAS business the benefit of recurring revenue over the lifetime of the customer. A few years ago some of the larger software companies like adobe switched to monthly pricing and since then it’s been the de rigeur way to deliver software.
The main benefit with SAAS is the recurring revenue. For a nomad, this is huge. Having one customer paying you $100 every single month is much easier than finding 12 new customers every year.
The second benefit is workload. Once the software is setup, the ongoing workload is very low, leaving you free to keep growing your income and enjoying your trip away. This is a dream scenario for most travellers – the only problem with that is finding customers for your SAAS and developing your software can be an extremely difficult path.
How to Start A SAAS Business?
First things first, you need to find a problem to solve. This sounds difficult, but there are problems everywhere you look. Your SAAS needs to address a problem that people have, ideally business owners, so here’s a few ways you can find ideas (For more information on this check out The Foundation podcast).
- The most obvious place to looks is your area of expertise. Think of industries or companies you’ve worked in – what were consistent problems or areas of frustration in the day to day work of your team or department? Often the biggest problems are sitting right under our nose waiting for someone to find an answer. A great example of this is Statement-Matching.com, an accounting tool for businesses. The team behind the SAAS worked with accounting departments for year before realising there was huge demand for a tool that automated the vendor statement reconciliation process – So, they built it themselves. Have a think and I’m sure you’ll see problems all around you waiting to be solved.
- The other option is to get in touch with people in specific industries to see what issues they’re having that a SAAS could alleviate. The drawback with this is reaching out to contacts to get their feedback can be time consuming and futile, but the bonus is that you can target specific industries with this approach, meaning you can aim to develop a SAAS for businesses that have alot of money to spend if you so please. A great example of this is Sam Oven’s getting an idea to create a mobile application for completing real estate site surveys. He got the idea simply from phoning up realtors and asking them about their problems.
Once you’ve got the problem you want to solve. the next step is to figure out how software can help, and then get the product developed. Obviously many of the problems you come across won’t be solvable via an application, however, you’d be surprised what technology can do these days. Between desktops and mobile apps there are a multitude of ways in which technology can solve our day to day problems, and once you’ve sketched out how your SAAS will work, it’s time to get it developed.
We’re going to utilise GEO arbitrage to get our SAAS built – i.e. hiring a developer from countries outside of the USA or western Europe to take advantage of the buying power of the dollar. Using this methodology you’d be surprised at how cheaply software can be built. Many applications cost only $10,000 or so, and some out of the box, customizable packages like collaboration or membership software can be a fraction of that. The best place to look for a developer is usually upwork.com – you can submit a request to various developers in order to see their proposals, and then simply go with the proposal you like best.
I hope this gave you a few ideas to get your brain working on how a SAAS could be a great way for you to fund your travels abroad – there’s a lot of information to fit in here so it’s just a birds eye view, but for more information definitely check out some of the more popular resources out there or feel free to get in contact with me through my contact me page.
Check out this video for some more inspiration!