Do you hope to one day sell your Internet business for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Whether you’re just starting out with your online business or have already launched, taking a couple of simple steps will greatly increase your future chances of selling your business for a substantial sum. Here’s what you need to do.
- Do your homework up front. Finding a successful niche is critical to building a thriving Internet business — and to selling it later on. Take the time to do your market research, hone in on a specific niche and do what it takes to own that market. If you create something that your target customers really want and can’t get anywhere else, your business will be much more desirable to potential purchasers.
- Don’t obsess over Google search rankings. Because Google changes its search algorithms so frequently, chasing after top search rankings is a never-ending game. While you shouldn’t ignore SEO completely, your focus should be on building many diverse sources of website traffic — not just relying on Google. If you are driving traffic via online advertising, social media, email marketing, affiliate sites and other sources as well as search, your Internet business will be far more stable, which makes it more attractive as a purchase.
- Keep good records. It will be much easier to sell your Internet business if you’ve kept detailed records from the start. This includes financial documentation; corporate or other business format documents; and documentation of any ownership such as domain names, logos and other elements of your website. In terms of sales, document where different sales come from — for example if you have some sales from your website and some sales from affiliates, break everything out separately.
- Do your own work to maximize your revenues. If you aren’t truly exploiting the potential of your Internet business, you won’t get the best possible price for it. Potential buyers may look at your site and see many ways that they could market it better, design it better or include better calls-to-action. Why let someone else do all that and garner twice the profits that you have? Instead, take these steps yourself to boost your sales as high as they can go — that way, you’ll be able to ask a higher price for your Internet business.
- Create a business that can operate without you. One of the great things about Internet businesses is that they can be run with a small staff, or even just by one person. However, if you’re the only person who knows how your business works and all the details of maintaining and running it are in your head, how can someone buy it and hope to succeed without you? Make sure to document systems and processes so that whoever buys the business can follow your procedures for things such as shipping, fulfillment, accepting payment and more.
- Be ready to answer these questions:
- What are your annual sales?
- What are your profits?
- What is your clickthrough rate?
- What is the average time on site?
- What is your bounce rate?
- What is your percentage of repeat sales? Repeat visitors?
- What is driving new sales?
Keep in mind that many people seeking to buy an Internet business are looking for something that’s easy to operate or can be run on an absentee basis. Business buyers tend to be risk-averse — that’s why they are starting their own businesses from scratch. As a result, it’s to your advantage to make your business as foolproof and easy to run as possible before attempting to sell. By following the steps above, you will help increase your chances of successfully building an Internet business for sale.
Want more assistance growing your business online? Join the Web.com Small Business Forum for free access to our library of ebooks, the latest industry news and support from other business owners, entrepreneurs and working professionals. Join a Group to ask questions, share your opinions and grow your network! Visit Web.com to learn about our full range of affordable website design and online marketing services.
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.