Here’s a fun fact: corporations are spending trillions of dollars on digital transformation. That means taking all the stuff they’re already doing, their processes, how they manage information, how they run their business, and they’re modernizing it all through software.
But they’re facing a really steep challenge.
Enterprise software projects take months to build and months to ship. They cost tens of thousands of dollars on the low end, and multi-millions of dollars on the high end. They’re technically complex and notorious for scope creep and shifting requierments.
Meanwhile, no-code platforms give us the freedom to create powerful custom software without all that overhead.
We all get that, right? I mean, that’s why we’re here. That’s why we have the No Code Founders community.
Now look around at what’s happening right now.
We’re dealing with mass layoffs and record inflation levels. It’s harder for startups to fundraise. Customers are reining in spending. There’s a potential recession on the horizon.
So on one hand, we have companies of all sizes trying to modernize, facing an uphill battle against costs, timelines, and limited resources.
On the other hand, we have the no-code platforms making it possible to build custom software more affordably, more quickly, and more easily than ever before.
See where I’m going with this?
2023 will be the year of no-code solutions for business
We’re perfectly situated to capture this moment as no-code professionals.
Heading into 2023, companies will need to solve all these digital transformation challenges with even fewer resources.
That means tighter budgets, tighter timelines, and a greater focus on efficiency and productivity.
Guess what no-code development is perfect for?
If 2022 was the year of no-code developers, 2023 will be the year of no-code solutions.
At Glide, we call these solutions apps for work.
Apps for work are purpose-built to solve a real, urgent problem that an organization faces. They’re created by the people closest to the problem, because they’re also the ones who will use the solution.
So instead of just wishing they had a tool that does X, they can go and create a tool that does X. They don’t need to wait for someone else. They can do it themselves.
It’s custom enterprise software without the traditional overhead of custom software development.
Now, just because it’s easier, faster, and more affordable to build no-code apps for work, that doesn’t mean that companies will always be able to do it on their own.
For example, they may need help because they don’t have the time or skills to do it in-house.
This is an amazing opportunity for no-code developers.
Sell your no-code skills as a service
There’s an emerging industry of freelancers and agencies building no-code solutions for clients.
They’re working with all kinds of companies, ranging from small businesses to global corporations.
Over time, these no-code professionals are taking on bigger projects, increasing their revenue, winning new clients, expanding their teams, and most importantly, building sustainable cashflow.
So, for all you no-code founders, here’s my pitch:
Sell your skills as a service and start building apps for work.
Expanding into client services opens the door to more revenue that you can then put towards developing your product. And who knows? Client services may even be a better fit for you.
I’ve seen it first hand. Back in the early 2010’s I was working with a bootstrapped startup. Funding came from web development services we provided on the side.
The product failed to gain traction, so our team pivoted to being a full-time development agency.
They’re still going strong today, working exclusively with large enterprise clients (who pay quite well).
Learn from web designers & developers
Before joining Glide, I spent nearly seven years working with web designers & developers at GoDaddy. These were freelancers and agencies who built and managed websites for clients.
Before GoDaddy, I worked in those kinds of agencies while freelancing on the side.
So, all told, I’ve got about fifteen years of this stuff under my belt.
As I started dipping my toes into no-code, I realized that, regardless of whether you’re building a website or an app, the challenges and approaches are almost identical.
In both cases, you’re gathering requirements, making a plan, building a product, onboarding your users, and - hopefully! - earning recurring revenue through ongoing support and maintenance.
What I’d like to do now is share some of the fundamentals I picked up over these last fifteen-ish years.
If you decide to jump into building apps for work as a service, these should come in handy.
1. Figure out what you want to work on
There’s this philosophy called niching down. It means catering to a very specific audience or customer segment. So instead of saying that you “build custom solutions for businesses”, you would say that you build certain types of applications for certain kinds of businesses, in certain industries or locations.
What those applications, businesses, industries, or locations are is up to you.
For example, back in my agency days, we worked exclusively on B2B marketing websites. And at Glide, we’ve done a lot of work with customers in field services, event management, and retail operations.
What do you like doing? What challenges motivate you? What industries do you care about? Start there.
2. Define & document your process
I’m confident that you already have an approach to building no-code projects. I’m less confident that you’ve written it all down.
It’s time to bust out the checklists!
Documenting your process gets it out of your head. It frees your mental bandwidth to focus on building solutions for your clients, a.k.a. the work you want to do and the work clients will pay you for.
How do you take a project from idea to reality? What are the milestones? What are the phases? What are the specific steps for each of those phases? How much time does each phase take?
I’m a visual person, so I like drawing it out first. Figjam is great for this, but you can do it however you like. A pen and paper work just as well. Visualize it, then document it.
3. Template the tedious work
Look for the recurring steps in your process. Create generic templates for each of those steps. Automate your processes where you can.
When a new project comes in, copy and tweak those templates, rather than creating something from scratch every single time.
Common templates include proposals and contracts, training & support materials, and client reports.
Create them once. Use them often.
This also applies to your build phase. Many no-code tools include some kind of templating or cloning functionality. Use these to give yourself a jumpstart on new projects.
For example, at Glide, we have a robust templating system for projects. You can create templates for your own use, or you can list them in the Template Marketplace for others to buy and use.
4. Sell your service like it’s a product
Have options for potential clients to choose from. That gives them the freedom to exert some control, without you having to haggle over every little thing.
You could group those options into packages based on certain criteria, like use case, included features, number of users, and so on. Put a floor on those options. “Projects starting at X.”
Give yourself a buffer on pricing. Pad your time. If you expect a project to take 10 hours, add 20% (or more) to cover for the inevitable overages.
5. Keep your clients on retainer
Sell maintenance and support plans to grow your recurring revenue. Each month should include a set of fixed tasks and deliverables. For example, if you’re building a web app, you could include uptime monitoring as an ongoing service.
Send monthly reports to show the value you’re providing to your client. These reports should include a recap of the work you’ve done and recommendations for future improvements.
Limit your support time to a fixed amount of hours per month. If a client’s support request goes beyond the allocated time, give them a choice: they can defer parts of the work to a future update; upgrade their support plan to a higher tier; or they can pay for it as a one-off project.
6. Lean into partnerships
Join communities like No Code Founders to connect with other no-code professionals. Attend events, ask questions, share your insights, and start building your network. You’ll learn a ton from others.
Join partner programs for the tools and platforms you’re already using. These programs offer exclusive perks like certifications, comarketing, discounts, commission payments, early access, and priority support. It varies from program to program, but they all offer something.
Zapier has their Certified Experts program, and Make has their Partner Program, for example. You can also check out the PartnerStack Marketplace for even more B2B SaaS partner programs that you might qualify for.
7. Find your first clients
The best leads come as referrals from your network. That’s why it’s so important to lean into partnerships and community. If you need help, they’re there for you; if they need help, you’re there for them. Start building those relationships and establishing trust early on. It’ll pay dividends down the road.
A more immediate path to finding clients is to get yourself listed in directories. No Code Founders has their agency directory. Partner programs come into play here, too. Most partner programs include a partner directory as one of their perks.
Marketplaces are the next step up from directories. They range from no-code specific ones like Codemap to broader talent marketplaces like Collective, Guru, and Upwork. I know freelancers and agencies who’ve built themselves a thriving business almost exclusively through marketplaces.
Putting it all together
2023 will be the year of no-code solutions. Companies will continue to spend trillions of dollars on digital transformation, but given our economic climate, they’re going to look for efficiencies. They’ll have tighter budgets, fewer resources, and a shorter timeline to realizing value
This is a huge opportunity for you to sell your no-code skills as a service and compete against traditional software development agencies. The seven principles to keep in mind:
- Figure out what you want to do.
- Define and document your processes.
- Template the tedious work and automate where you can.
- Sell your services like they’re a product.
- Keep your clients on retainer for recurring revenue.
- Lean into partnerships and communities to establish your support network.
- Find your first clients through network referrals, plus directories and marketplaces.
We’re here to help.
Glide’s mission is to put the power, beauty, and magic of software development into the hands of a billion new creators. We started by enabling people to build beautiful apps on top of Google Sheets. Since then, we’ve expanded our capabilities, and refined our focus, to help companies build custom apps for work.
We know that we can’t do this alone. That’s why we have our Experts & Agencies program. It’s a fantastic group of talented Glide users building and maintaining projects for their clients. In 2023, we’re going to expand this program with all new perks and resources.
I’d love for you to join us. Interested? Get in touch and let us know.