There are the SaaS tools while I write this:
- Google Drive
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
And these are just the ones I can actually remember off the top of my head.
If I check my credit card statement, there for sure will be a couple of pleasant surprises there!
The point is, it’s a lot!
And this does not include:
- Chrome extensions
- Standalone apps like Sketch
- Development tools like Github, Sequel Pro, etc.
- PPC platforms (Facebook, Adwords, Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit)
Introducing Tool Sprawl
I think there’s a word for this — tool sprawl.
Just look at this image!
And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I’ve surveyed over 500 marketers, founders, and developers, and the average is around 8.7 SaaS apps, with a significant minority clocking in at +15 tools.
Tools can be a huge time drain
Every tool you use means:
- You spent time to decide that you need to use a tool like this to solve a problem
- You probably trialed it and a few competitors as well and gave them a test run
- You for sure spent at least 30 minutes reading reviews
- You definitely spent a good amount of time setting it up, learning how to use it, and putting it to work.
Dealing with tool sprawl
If you suspect that you might be victim of tool sprawl, the first thing you should do is audit your tools.
The MVP way to audit tool sprawl
- Create a Google Sheet and call it “Tool Audit”
- Column A: Tool name
- Column B: Tool website url
- Column C: Monthly cost
- Column D: Criticality to your operations [0-3]
- Column E: Is there a free way you could do this if you were more deliberate, mindful, and resourceful?
By creating a sheet like this, silly expenses stick out.
Learning new SaaS tools
You should also take into account the time it takes to learn new tools. It takes a certain amount of effort to switch and learn a new tool. Many businesses would rather pay more than deal with these two non-financial switching costs.
Yet tools are so very important
We get things done with tools.
Hacking learning curves with mentors
Talking to a technically savvy startup mentor gives you the ability to pick their brains on their experiences with the tool, their feedback on what sucks/rocks about it, or anything else related to that tool.
This helps you extract more ROI out of the tool. You can get advice on how to set it up in a best practice way which can save many headaches down the road.
At GrowthMentor, it’s really easy to filter mentors based on what tools they have experience with.
It’s easy to save time by talking to others who have already invested their time to figure it out themselves.
If you feel like you are spending too much time thinking (or obsessing) about “which tool to use”, you might need a bit of a digital detox.
There’s a lot of talk about digital minimalism and going “manual mode.” And maybe that is what certain people need to break through their plateaus. Early-stage startups that don’t have tons of users and revenue yet could easily cancel their cold emailing software and benefit big. They’d focuse more on personalised 1:1 emails, and would get better results. Quality always trumps quantity, especially when you still don’t have clear traction yet.
It’s how you forge your brand identify — when difficulty mode is on high.
Scaling things isn’t really something useful for most people to worry about. That’s because most, don’t have anything signficant to scale yet!
Yes, tech can be cool, but guess what’s even cooler?
Doing deep and effective work that actually drives results.