Are you interested in owning an Internet business, but don’t have the patience or know how to start one yourself? Buying an Internet business can be a smart option for those who want to dive right into making money. However, to ensure you buy the right business, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are seven things to look for when buying an Internet business.
- An appealing website. How attractive is the Internet business’s website? Will you have to do major redesigning to get it up to your standards, or is it “move-in ready,” so to speak? (Of course, keep in mind that sometimes, unattractive websites have substantial sales. If this is the case, don’t fix what isn’t broken.)
- Reliable traffic trends. Use Google Analytics to review the website’s traffic history. How has traffic changed over time? Has it grown steadily, or have there been dramatic ups and downs? If you find anything unusual, ask the business’s owner to explain.
- Multiple sources of traffic. A sustainable Internet site will have traffic coming from multiple sources, including online advertising, organic search, paid search and third-party sources, such as links from other websites or mentions in articles and blogs. If the website gets too much of its traffic from one source — such as organic search — a change in Google’s algorithms could cause traffic to drop dramatically. You also want traffic coming from a wide variety of keywords, not just from a few.
- An industry sector that’s thriving and growing. Not all ecommerce sites are created equal. While sales of almost all types of products online are projected to rise, some sectors, such as apparel and electronics, are more profitable and have more growth potential than others. Make sure you’re buying into a site that is on an upward trajectory.
- A mobile-friendly design. With mobile devices growing in importance and mobile online sales rising, you want to buy an Internet business that will not need major revamping in order to take advantage of mobile opportunities.
- Strong customer service and engagement. Does the company have loyal customers, and how well is it serving them? Review customer support data and interactions with customers via email, chat and phone conversations to see what types of customer support the company has in place and how well it’s doing at providing satisfactory service. Also review how many repeat customers the company has and how it engages with them via email and social media to make sure that the business has strong relationships with customers.
- Ease of operations. Just because it’s an Internet business doesn’t mean it’s simple to operate. Talk to the owner to find out what he or she handles on a daily basis. Ask about systems, processes, employee manuals and other guidelines that will help you maintain consistency in operations. How much technology know-how will be required of you? If you are not tech savvy, you should definitely partner with or hire someone who is to help you.
Speaking of tech savvy, it’s a good idea for most people considering buying an Internet business to enlist the help of an experienced website designer and/or SEO consultant to assess the site in-depth. These experts can advise you whether the site has used any shady tactics to get traffic, how well-built the site is on the backend and whether it’s well-positioned to remain competitive after you take over.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.