It’s something of an ideal that many people buy into – set up an online business, put your feet up on the desk and wait for the dollars to roll in. It’s that easy right? Wrong!
Having created online businesses for myself and hundreds of business owners in New Zealand, the UK and Australia since 2000, it still amazes me how many people I meet who are trying to ‘re-create the wheel’ by establishing a website or online business from scratch, often without doing effective research on what is already out there, or giving any consideration to whether they could simply ‘buy’ a similar online business.
Yes, just like other assets such as a house, so to can you buy a website or online business. And just like property, you can sometimes snaffle yourself a deal, or through hard work and determination ‘renovate’ the online business to be worth more than you ever dreamed possible.
Take Richard Eastes for instance, a young lad from Brisbane who will be speaking at our next Web Wednesday event on 22 February. Richard Eastes is an entrepreneur who spent his life savings on adopting a struggling start-up in 2002. At that point, the start-up was generating a mere 5 sales a day, until Richard grew it to around 700 sales a day within a few years. The company’s name is VroomVroomVroom and it now dominates the car rental comparison market in Australia. VroomVroomVroom has won dozens of awards for its fast growth, and innovations. Annual sales now exceed $40m. Yes, you read it correctly.
Or how about Liz Raad who will also be speaking at our next Web Wednesday event. Her husband joked to me during a phone call to confirm her involvement at the event how lucky he was that he had a wife who would rather shop for domains and websites than shoes or handbags and all the money she had made in doing so over the years! These days she teaches people how to buy well, renovate a website and sell them again, a process known in the industry as ‘flipping’.
On the topic of flipping, I’m presuming you’ll have all heard of high-flying Australian online success story Flippa.com which is now the world’s biggest marketplace for buying and selling websites? (By the way I tried to confirm them for Web Wednesday too by the way, but they weren’t up for travelling from Melbourne and probably had bigger ‘fish to fry’…and flip!)
Over 90,000 users have registered to buy or sell websites on Flippa and more than 1,000 buyers and sellers are online every minute of the day. Over 150,000 bids were placed and nearly 20,000 websites were sold on Flippa in 2010—valued at almost $21m! Yes in case you haven’t got the idea yet, it’s fair to say the buying and selling businesses online is a pretty big and growing business. [Source of stats: https://flippa.com/about]
Interestingly though, despite their name, fewer than 5% of Flippa’s website buyers and sellers are actively “flipping” websites. Rather, users appear to be ‘just buying’ or ‘just selling’.
The moral of the story? If you play your cards right, you too can create a website or online business that is worth something, or buy to ‘renovate’. The only thing holding most people back is their lack of awareness that this strategy is even possible!
Just recently I was speaking to a personal trainer friend who was looking at winding up her business to focus on other pursuits. I asked her what she was planning to sell her business for, and she said after trying to sell it via a variety of business brokers (including expensive offline advertising campaigns) she thought she’d just wind it up.
Horrified, I suggested that if she’d invested so much time, money and effort into the business, particularly the online component which I knew she had, she should at least try and recover some of that value by selling the online component.
So what makes a website valuable? Here are a few quick tips:
1. When the site was established – In short, the older it is, the better.
2. Traffic – specifically ‘Page Views Per Month’ and ‘uniques’ or unique users per month – the higher the page views and the higher the unique users per month, the higher your websites value. The trick is in keeping these stats high during the process of selling your online business, even if your heart isn’t in it any more. Consider it like continuing to keep your house clean and tidy for regular open days to improve your chance of getting a sale and getting a good price!
3. Google PageRank – Google gives each website a score out of 10 with 1 being low and 10 being high. Naturally it gives itself a 10. To find out your PageRank (also know as PR) download http://toolbar.google.com. The higher your PageRank the more valuable your website.
4. Alexa Rank – For a long time now, Alexa.com has ranked websites across the world. In this case, the lower your score, the higher up you are on the international scale.
5. Links in Google – The more links you have on Google, the more valuable your website.
6. Inbound Links – The more links you have pointing to your site, the more valuable your website.
7. Compete – Compete.com monitors web traffic via user toolbars much like Alexa does. Compete provides information on traffic history, how sites compare against the competition, trust scores, ranked lists etc. The better your Compete Ranking, the more valuable your business.
8. SEMRush Rank – SEMrush.com shows you which keywords that your websites rank for and the number of searches done for those keywords per month as well as a bunch of other useful stats. The basis of all search engine rankings is keywords so if a site is well optimized for certain keywords, it may be more valuable.
9. Keywords in Google – It is possible to measure the number of keywords you currently rank on Google for. Obviously, the more the better!
10. Financial details – The more passive income your website generates per month, the more valuable it is.
11. Database size – The bigger your database size, (ideally verified opted in people) the more valuable your online business is.
There are a bunch of other factors that make a website or online business valuable like the number of competitors, market positioning, branding, other marketing activities plus more, but I hope this blog post gets you thinking about how valuable (or not) your online business currently is, and what you might be able to do to improve the situation. I welcome your feedback and ideas in the comments area below.