Business models of SaaS companies explained

As technology advances so do company practices where automation is the obvious next step in the evolution of the world of work. This possibility may make the current workforce insecure about their place in the future where it may help, instead, to focus on the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Such opportunities include learning new skills needed for innovation, such as digital literacy.

In this article, we look at SaaS companies in more detail. We will also look at the benefits of this model for users and SaaS companies. This will help you better understand if this is a business model worth pursuing. By the end of this article, you will also know what using SaaS companies means for your business.

What is a SaaS company?

Short for software as a service, SaaS is a business that hosts an application so that users can access certain software. A domain is similar to how a website is hosted. This means that companies using this service do not need to install software such as servers onsite. Making this solution cost-effective as business owners do not need to invest in the required hardware. SaaS is therefore cloud technology where customers have access to their systems from any device or location. this Types of business models has been steadily increasing since the early 2010s.

Examples of SaaS companies

Having established that SaaS’ is a cloud-based technology that comes with its benefits and challenges, let’s look at some examples of these businesses:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Companies like Salesforce offer this service to help small businesses grow with features like sales tracking and managing client information to effectively engage with them in the future. CRM provides CRM to increase sales by automating the pipeline process and identifying gaps.

Project management

This SaaS allows different role players to collaborate on a project. For example, where different departments need to coordinate their efforts. GitHub, for example, is a platform that allows users to plan and track work. This is so your team can monitor performance and increase productivity.

Data management

Platforms like Nielsen manage data in a way that makes it useful for marketers who have the option to choose different audience segments.


This SaaS’ offers billing and reporting services. Companies like FreshBooks help both service providers and clients manage their invoices and payments. They also offer reports such as time tracking and project profitability.

human resources

Instead, companies like ADP offer payroll and HR solutions such as employee time tracking. Clearlake Capital helps businesses strengthen their workforce capabilities through recruiting, training, and succession management tools.

What business model is used by SaaS companies?

In previous articles, we saw that business models are basically how companies make money. SaaS businesses are classified as e-commerce because customers purchase and use their services online. However, their services can be more precisely defined under one or more of the following models:

Subscription model

SaaS’ in this category charge a flat rate to clients. Prices depend on how much data they need to store and the level of technical support. The advantage of this model is that you have a consistent customer base and reliable income. The key is to encourage customers to purchase an annual subscription. But there are challenges associated with this model. One is the low profit margin. As a business owner, you need to increase your marketing efforts to generate sales volume to compensate.


SaaS’ use this model to offer their services for free. This is until clients reach a certain storage limit. During that time, the company charges customers if their business needs more capacity. The advantage of this model is that, as long as you offer reasonable storage space to attract clients, you can keep your threshold low. Thus they may end up having to upgrade later. However, the challenge remains that you still have to service companies that are not paying because their storage requirements are below the threshold.

Free or ad-based

This model is offered at no cost to the customer with the option to upgrade (for a fee) to avoid advertising. The advantage here is that you are making your service accessible to a significant number of customers. If those customers are satisfied, you can bag more clients through word of mouth.

On the other hand, the challenge with this model is that you have to have an extended workforce. This includes a sales team to find paying advertisers to compensate non-paying users.

per user

This model depends on how many people in a company will use your application where as the number increases the charges will also increase. The advantage is that your service is easily marketable as a solution for companies looking to streamline their processes by having all employees work from the same platform.

The challenge, however, will be selling to people outside of the corporate space where you need to find ways to encourage individual users to expand their network by inviting their friends and family to join.

Attribute-based level

Similar to storage models, SaaS’s that fall into this category have function limitations where clients can upgrade to get more extensive capabilities from your application.

The challenge with this is that you will need more hands to coordinate technical support due to different functionalities for different users.

Pay as you spend

This model works in direct contrast to the subscription model. With this business model, there are no recurring bills and customers. Instead, customers only pay for your services on an ‘as and when needed’ basis. While the advantages here are that neither you nor the user is bound by the contract, you need to continuously give users a good reason to stick with your services.

Advantages of a SaaS business model

Now that we have a better understanding of the revenue models, let’s take a look at the other benefits of running a saas company

Recurring revenue

One of the first benefits is the opportunity for recurring revenue. SaaS businesses typically rely on a Subscription-based model. This means they can generate predictable and recurring revenue monthly or annually. This provides stability to the business and makes it easier to forecast revenue and plan for future growth.

low price

Compared to traditional software businesses, SaaS businesses have lower overhead costs. This is because they don’t have to worry about developing, manufacturing or distributing physical products. Lack of dependency results in significant cost savings. Those savings can be reinvested in product development, marketing and customer acquisition.

Accessible from anywhere

SaaS products are typically cloud-based. Cloud-based products can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. This provides users with greater flexibility and convenience as they can access the product from any device in the world.


SaaS businesses have the opportunity to scale their operations quickly and efficiently. This is because they don’t have to worry about physical constraints like production capacity or distribution channels. Many SaaS companies can also operate with minimal staff. This makes it easier for these businesses to expand their user base and generate more revenue.


As with any business, founders can expect change at any time. SaaS businesses can quickly adapt to market conditions and customer needs. Since the product is software-based, it is easy to update and modify. This allows SaaS businesses to quickly respond to customer feedback and make changes to the product as needed.

Risks of a SaaS business model

Dependence on third-party infrastructure

SaaS businesses rely heavily on third-party infrastructure. Things like cloud service providers, data centers and internet service providers are essential for every SaaS company Any disruption to this infrastructure can cause downtime, slow performance and other issues that affect the user experience.

Relies on a subscription model

An advantage of a SaaS company can be a risk factor. As mentioned earlier SaaS businesses rely on a subscription-based model. While this creates predictable income, it can also create the potential for lost revenue. Subscribers can easily unsubscribe. This can happen during economic downturns or when they want to save money. This can happen if users no longer see value in the service.

Intense competition

SaaS businesses face fierce competition. New entrants are constantly entering the market. To succeed, SaaS businesses need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. One way to do this is to provide better products, prices or customer service.

Customer churn

Customer churn is a significant challenge for SaaS businesses. Customers can cancel their subscription if they are dissatisfied with the product or service. Or, again due to competition, customers may find a better alternative. SaaS businesses must continually improve their products and services to retain their customers and reduce churn.

Regulatory compliance

SaaS businesses must comply with various regulations, including data protection, privacy and intellectual property laws. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in legal action, fines and reputational damage.

High customer acquisition costs

Customer acquisition costs can be high for SaaS businesses. Especially in the early growth stages. To acquire new customers, SaaS businesses must invest in marketing, sales, and customer support, which can be expensive.


In summary, we have seen what Software as a Service is and how companies can benefit from working on this cloud technology. We have considered the risks involved for users and SaaS companies.

Some of the uses SaaS provides are customer relationship and human resource management, project coordination, and sales monitoring. Regarding the types of SaaS business models, we have seen that they can operate based on six, or even a combination of these where they generate revenue through, for example, subscriptions, storage usage or added features.

Marie Francois Robinson on LinkedIn
Marie Francois Robinson

Staff Writer: Marie Francois is a writer with a strong foothold in the adult learning space. His focus is creating valuable content based on his experience in business development. She draws inspiration from Maya Angelou’s wise words, ‘When you learn, teach. When you grow up, give.’

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Business Models · Business Opportunities · Featured · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Sales · Technology

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Business Models · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Lead Your Team · Sales · Technology · Your Mindset

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