Build to sell ≠ build to own

jasonleow  •  25 May 2023   •    

I was intrigued by this tweet by @tarasowski about building a SaaS to $100 MRR and then selling it for $10k:

How to make $10,000 in the next 4 weeks.

  1. Build a SaaS
  2. Bring it to $100 MRR
  3. List on @acquiredotcom
  4. Sell it for $10,000+

I have done that, it works.

And obviously this was intriguing enough for others that that my retweet blew up.

$20k in 4 weeks sounds like a good deal, no? Sounds like a lucrative opportunity. Of course, there’s no guarantee it can happen every month. The reality is that it is possible but not commonplace – this Feb 2023 report shows SaaS are asking multiples at 2-3x revenue or 5x profit:

The way I see it, this could be a fun way for someone who’s still looking for a main project to focus on, to try many different things first. For sure, this approach has trade-offs on opportunity cost and focus, so not ideal if you already got a good project going.

Or say if I build something but don’t foresee a long term future with it, and want to sell. Maybe after building it I realised I’m not in love with the problem enough to do it long term… then selling for $20k after trying it out for 1 month sounds like a nice exit, yes?

Can also imagine that if someone is good at marketing and have good acumen at spotting opportunities, this might be a good way own a business already running on momentum and grow it multiple fold. What’s interesting is how someone could buy it at $10k, build it from $100 MRR to $100k MRR, and flip it for millions.

But the key draw for me is if I build something with the intention to sell it off, maybe new and different opportunities would open up, because I wouldn’t need to fall in love with the problem…

I’ve always judged product ideas on whether I’m in love with the problem, not whether the opportunity is there. I feel like I need to have that maker enjoyability aspect, otherwise I won’t last in the long term. But this got me thinking: Why do I need to always build something to own? Why do I need my products to be like my babies, or borrowing an analogy from @dvassallo, why treat them like pets instead of cattle? If I’m not obsessed with having to love a problem, maybe I can work on product ideas that are trending and is a good opportunity for a limited time, say 1-2 months, and flip it for a good multiple. I can live with 1-2 months! And in the process, I’d probably learn a lot too, work out my shipping muscles, and gain some followers for building in public. Rather than procrastinating and dwelling in abstract terms over which idea I should throw myself into and not ending up not acting at all…

The way I see it might work for me personally, is I don’t know if it’s a problem space that I’m interested in, but I saw a big opportunity and went for it. Build it out and grow it. Then could decide to sell if still not in love after 4 weeks, or if I start to like it, I can continue growing it. Previously I would have to just let it die if I didn’t want to continue and it’ll go to waste, or I continue grudgingly - either which are less than ideal.

Build to sell ≠ build to own.


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