The challenge to break through that invisible growth ceiling

It’s the time of year where we reflect and look back. Has the ambitious plan you betted on at the end of last year been delivered? Have you achieved the number of new customers you were so confident you’d get? Has your SaaS business achieved that magical MRR you had in mind?

Looking at the market, many SaaS businesses have grown. But was it enough in the mind of the founder? Even if they grew 30%, 50%, or even doubled, founders are often puzzled – cause they didn’t grow as expected. For another year, they hit that invisible growth ceiling.
Frustration is what’s left.

In the B2B SaaS Scaleup world, there are no shortcuts.

When it constantly feels like you’re selling with wind-force nine headwind, it can drive you nuts.

What happens is that we start to doubt whether we actually do have product-market fit. What happens?

We expand our focus rather than narrow it down to stay on course. We start shooting at everything. And that makes things worse.

  • Sales cycles increase rather than accelerate, and
  • to win more deals, discounting often feels like the only weapon you have.
  • And if that’s not enough – with all the effort we put in to adjust – we start dropping the ball on existing customers, with more churn as a result.

It’s a problem I see a lot – and it always seems to rise to the surface at the end of the year. The problem often resides in what I call the ‘Value Foundation’ of the business. If that’s not crisp and compelling, everything else suffers.

  • We think we know who our ideal target is, but we’re often still +50% off the mark in reality.
  • We think we understand our customers’ challenges, but we’re barely itching the surface in reality.
  • We believe the problem we solve is mission-critical – but in the minds of our customers, it’s not even nice to have.

Having a weak value foundation impacts everything else we do

  • It settles Marketing with the impossible challenge to attract the right customers
  • It sets Sales up for the impossible task to over-achieve on their target
  • It puts R&D in the challenging position to allocate their scarce resources to the right bets and create something remarkable – instead, they’re consistently delivering mediocre stuff in the eyes of your customers
  • And finally – professional services can’t get the newly ‘won’ customers happy because nothing is in the sweet spot – and every project seems to turn into a customization nightmare


The critical question to reflect upon one week before the new year starts is:

Are your raised expectations for 2022 founded on a solid foundation? Will you hit that invisible growth ceiling again in 12 months or finally break through?


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.