Starting & Sustaining A system to help you build and launch a web application with less pain and fewer mistakes.

You’d like to build a web app but aren’t sure where to start. For every question you have, there’s two more you don’t even know to ask. You could really use a trail guide for SaaS that could help you make informed decisions.

Don’t waste days making the same mistakes I did. Instead, spend an afternoon absorbing eight years of experience so you can avoid the mistakes I made the hard way.

Read the first edition for free on Medium right now. No strings attached. Or, if Twitter is more your speed, you can follow along on Twitter too.

Starting & Sustaining is a system to help you with the logistics and operations of building, launching, and sustaining your own web application so you can save time and avoid the countless mistakes that I made.

It is currently a work-in-progress, but I'm working on it in the open. Many of the chapters are rough drafts or only outlines rather than precisely finished and polished thoughts. These will regularly be updated, but it's important to me to share them in their rough form for both feedback and early access for those who could use the information now.

Please enjoy, and don't hesitate to reach out with feedback and suggestions if you have them.


Photo of Garrett Garrett

Book Progress

This progress meter tracks the writing and editing of the book. Once that's complete, there will still be more to do, but this helps provide a level of insight into how things are moving along. You can follow along on Twitter for detailed updates.

46% Complete

  1. Foreword
  2. Preface
  3. Introduction
  4. Balance fear and hope.
  5. Plan for a paycut.
  6. Don't quit your day job.
  7. Be cautious with projections.
  8. Get money.
  9. Focus and execute.
  10. Build something yesterday.
  11. Use tools that speed you up.
  12. Assemble a team with care.
  13. Defend your productivity.
  14. Embrace learning.
  15. Build vs. Buy
  16. Plan for icebergs.
  17. Get paperwork out of the way.
  18. Choose vendors wisely.
  19. Embrace smallness.
  20. Ignore the competition.
  21. Remember it's a business.
  22. Develop empathy for customers.
  23. Should you be transparent?
  24. Focus on purposeful quality.
  25. Design for iteration.
  26. Payment is the best validation.
  27. Consider the big picture of development.
  28. Right-size your architecture.
  29. Spend time talking to customers.
  30. Make it easy to test drive.
  31. Invest in onboarding.
  32. Carefully consider payment options.
  33. Pricing can change everything.
  34. Plan for failed payments.
  35. Make security a priority.
  36. Establish working backups.
  37. Integrate email seamlessly.
  38. Ease into analytics.
  39. Monitoring is the new cofounder.
  40. Be strategic about integrations and API's.
  41. Don't neglect sales.
  42. Build anticipation.
  43. Nail your private beta.
  44. Launch way too early.
  45. Launch day is overrated.
  46. Maintain momentum.
  47. Handle feedback with care.
  48. Roll with criticism.
  49. Keep customers informed.
  50. Bring it all back to customer success.
  51. Fight through plateaus.
  52. Be ready for fraud and spam.
  53. Keep chargebacks in context.
  54. Create a prioritization framework.
  55. Prevent churn before it happens.
  56. Listen carefully to cancellations.
  57. Be honest and graceful when things go wrong.
  58. Outsource your weaknesses.
  59. Make changes with confidence and empathy.
  60. Understand marketing and advertising.
  61. Leverage automation.
  62. Make time for maintenance.
  63. Refactor first, and rebuild as a last resort.
  64. Always be preparing to exit.
  65. Make sure selling is the right option.
  66. Know what buyers want.
  67. Understand your business valuation.
  68. Understand the process of selling.
  69. Consider talking to a broker.
  70. Understand deal structures.


Is it right for me?
If you're intersted in starting a SaaS business, and even if you're already a few years in, it's probably right down your alley. It's not overly technical, and it is platform agnostic. Whether you're a designer, developer, or playing another role in starting or running a software business, Starting and Sustaining will help you understand the big picture and side-step countless mistakes that I made. But nothing beats reading it for yourself. All of the chapters are free to read online before you buy it.
Is it a technical book?
No. While it does address several technical topics at a high-level, Starting & Sustaining puts together a holistic view of building and running a SaaS business. It's about building a team, supporting and marketing a product, considerations for payments and billing, and much more.
What topics does it cover?
The short version is that it covers all of the topics of building, launching, running, supporting, and even selling a SaaS business. For more detail you can browse the table of contents. Of course, the full book is available on the web for free as well. So you can always skim some chapters before buying the whole book.
When will it be ready?
I'm aiming to have it finished sometime around the middle of 2017. What originally started as an update to the first edition has evolved into a much more ambitious project that's more akin to an overhaul than an update.
How much will it cost?
Honestly, I'm not quite sure yet, but there will probably be a variety of packages available at different prices. The full content of the book will always be available online for free so that it's available to anyone regardless of ability to pay for it. If, however, you're interested in the full package but can't afford it, you can always pay via postcard. Just shoot me an email, I give you the address, and you can pay by simply sending me a postcard. Once I get it, I'll email you the package at no charge.

An illustration of the checklist, book, and spreadsheet.

Launching Late-2017 Kindle, PDF, Audio Book, Spreadsheet, Playbook, Launch Checklist, Video Interviews, and more.