How Many SaaS Tools Do You Really Need To Start Your Business?

Post written by

Andrew Saladino

Andrew Saladino is the Co-Founder and COO of Kitchen Cabinet Kings, an online retailer of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry located in NYC.

Today, you have thousands of SaaS options for your company. With the advent of cloud computing, there’s been an explosion in business apps. It seems like a new one comes out every other day. From marketing to payroll and everything in between, there’s an app for that.

Of course, you don’t need to use everything, but what’s the right amount? In other words, what’s the Goldilocks SaaS stack for a startup?

How many tools do you need right now?

Of course, there isn’t a perfect number. It’s easy to find articles on Google about which tools are used by different organizations. If you have the budget, you might just sign up for all the tools a competitor is using.  However, that might not be the best idea.

That’s because many of these companies are way past the startup phase. For example, a small company that’s five years old will have different needs than one that’s five months old. You don’t have to have the same stack that another established company in your field has.

It’s better to take a look at what you need right now and get apps that fulfill that, instead of buying each new piece of SaaS candy that comes on the market. If you have thirty people in your company, do you really need five different content creation apps? Maybe you can get away with one or two. Then, as your business grows and you add new departments, you can diversify your stack.

Remember, each new app takes time to learn. Then, it takes time for you to teach that to others. That can slow you down if you need to be nimble in the beginning.

Keep the goal in mind.

The main goal is to use apps that enhance your efficiency. Imagine that you don’t have any SaaS programs. You’d have to do everything from scheduling to communication manually. Needless to say, that would be extremely inefficient.

Now, identify your can’t-live-without apps. Maybe that includes a payroll program, a CRM and apps for scheduling, productivity, analytics, customer support and basic SEO and digital marketing.

These are the programs that facilitate a majority of what your business does in the cloud, and you use them daily or many times per week. In e-commerce, you might also need apps that monitor reviews or counterfeit items.

Next, find the ones that enhance your productivity. Maybe they don’t contribute as much as your can’t-live-without apps, but they definitely help. They could be specialized content creation apps or apps for certain types of projects. You could use these a few times a month.

Now, find out which are pretty neat, but could do without. You might use apps at this end of the spectrum once a month. Or, you might not even remember the last time you did. Maybe you found a hot new program that really didn’t work for you, and you used it for a week then forgot about it.

So, the goal is to cut out this last category. If you don’t have any apps in this last category, that’s great.

What should you avoid?

Keep in mind, you can always add apps back in. However, do you really want to pay $500+ for something you could live without? Along those lines, do you want to sink thousands of your startup capital into 50 different apps, when 20 could work just fine?

Once you get going, it’s also a good idea to audit your SaaS apps every so often. There are a couple of reasons why you should do this. First, you want to avoid orphaned accounts. These are accounts that had been set up by somebody who is no longer at the company.

In many cases, the admin access left along with them. No one is using the program anymore, but you’re still paying the bill. Furthermore, the app can present a security issue if it could be accessed by outside personnel.

Also, you want to avoid duplicate subscriptions. This can happen when a new department in a growing company buys its own subscription for something the company already uses. First of all, you’re paying double, so that’s not good. Plus, sharing one app between departments would improve workflow between them.

Over to you.

Each company has different needs. At my company, we use a number of different tools. Of course, Google Analytics is a great starting point for website data. For SEO and competitor analysis, we use Ahrefs and SEMrush. Also, we like Evernote for productivity.

Even though there isn’t a magic number of apps you should have, there is certainly a Goldilocks zone. Try not to get caught up in buying each new business tool that comes out.

Having a stack that’s too tall can lead to inefficiency and extra costs. Finally, once you’re up and running, try to audit your SaaS subscriptions every so often to avoid orphaned or duplicate apps.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of the world's most successful entrepreneurs 45 and younger. YEC members repre...">Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of the world's most successful entrepreneurs 45 and younger. YEC members repre...