There are many reasons why you might want to sell an online business. You might have lost passion for your niche, you might be tired of the day-to-day graft, or perhaps you have your eye on bigger and better things. But before you can make your exit— you need to find a buyer.
To find the right buyer and get the best price for your business, it is important to make sure your business is primed for sale. We know this process can seem a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time selling. So to make it easier, we have put together some key areas to focus on that can help your business become as sellable as possible.
1 Plan your sale
A sale can be a long process – you need to get all aspects of your business in order.
- Contracts for staff
- Intellectual property
- Legal ownership documents
- And more
Creating a plan for all the phases of your sale is vital to make sure the sale runs smoothly and everything is covered. A sales plan can help you organize each stage of selling. If everything is clear and in order, and you are ready to answer any question that comes your way, a buyer will be more inclined to take on the business.
If you are unsure of how to make your own sales plan, it can be a good idea to ask for expert advice.
2 Get your finances in order
Money — there’s no denying it is a key concern for any buyer or seller. While a seller is concerned about getting a fair price for their business, a buyer is concerned with getting a good deal. They want to be sure the business is a good investment, that it will bring in the revenue you say it does, and that there are no hidden catches.
Therefore, the clearer and more transparent you can be about earnings and expenses, the better. Make sure you have records of all costs, revenue and taxes related to the business for ideally six to twelve months. These should be tracked in a separate account from any personal accounts so they can clearly see expected profits. Buyers don’t want to wade through any irrelevant information, so make it as easy for them as possible by showing only relevant information that is easy to digest. If your accounts are a total mess, get them organized now.
3 Get your analytics in order
As well as money, having clear data on traffic and performance is also a key way to make your website more sellable. You should be able to show your potential buyer several months data on things like:
- Quantity of traffic
- Traffic sources
- Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Use a tool such as Google Analytics to keep track of your traffic and prove that it is genuine and high quality. Websites with multiple traffic sources will be desirable to buyers as if the business will not be relying on just one source should anything go wrong. Ideally, you will have six to twelve months of solid data and analytics to put your buyer at ease. This will help them see past any anomalies in traffic such as seasonal trends, campaigns etc.
4 Streamline your backlinks
Buyers are likely to check out your backlink profile. A solid backlink profile will mean that there are links on other sites that point to yours. These should ideally be from reputable sites and sources.
If you have allowed your backlink profile to go by the wayside, spending some time building it up can certainly make your website more sellable. On the other side, if you haven’t cleaned up these links in a while, there may be old, low-quality or broken links that are actually damaging your backlink profile.
There are tools such as Disavow that can help you identify old, low-quality links so they can be removed.
5 Determine the asking price
Being clear on the figure you want to sell for is key to getting the best price for your business. It is best to determine both a maximum asking price and a minimum price that you are comfortable selling for. This will help you retain authority and confidence when discussing the price with potential buyers. It gives you somewhere to go in negotiations and instills trust. It also helps you establish clear limitations so you don’t end up panic selling for a price you are unhappy with.
Make sure to consider all the different aspects that give the business value outside pure profits. For example, there are certain things that have taken time to build up that give your company intangible value such as:
- Authority of your domain within the niche
- If your site and traffic is evergreen
- If you have a strong community of followers on social media
6 Make it easy for the buyer to take over
A buyer will be more likely to bite if they can envisage a smooth and easy handover of management and operations. The best way to do this is to create SOPs aka Standard Operating Procedures.
SOPs are basically documents that detail the step-by-step processes and systems for running your business. You may already have these for different parts of your business, but if not, it is a good idea to make some.
You may create SOPs on things like:
- Managing vendors
- Digital logins
- Order processes
- Resolving common issues
SOPs enable you to hand over the business to your buyer with a detailed guide on how to run each aspect. It will put them at ease that they will be run the business without your help. It will also reduce the need for you to stay involved long after the deal is closed.
Another way to make it easy for a buyer to take over is to take a step back from the business. If the success of the business relies heavily on you, for example for a specialist skill or if you are the face of the brand, it may be hard for a buyer to replicate. Before selling, look at finding ways to hand over the site. These could be working with the new buyer to teach them the skills they need or transitioning from personal branding to company-based branding.
7 Get expert help
If you don’t know where to start from finding a buyer to how much to ask for, hire some help. You can speak to business brokers or other third parties who can advise you and help you sell your business. This can be hugely helpful if you don’t already have a network of contacts.
A business broker can help you:
- Value your business
- Get the best price for your business
- Find a buyer and perform due diligence
- Help you in any areas that need improvement
When choosing a seller look for someone with a proven track record selling businesses similar to your own.
If your main desire is to sell your business fast, you may also look at selling your business to investor buyers, like Domain Magnate. These buyers have large amounts of capital upfront and have dealt with many sales before. This can mean a quick and painless sale.
8 Be willing to work
Even if you do hire help, making a sale takes effort from you. You will need to be involved in the sales process in a variety of ways. These will range from attending meetings, asking and answering questions, helping the new buyer with the takeover and negotiating the price you want.
9 Be findable
As a seller, it is important that a buyer trusts you. They will be doing due diligence on you to make sure that they are not being scammed or taken for a ride. They will be checking your online profiles such as Twitter or LinkedIn. If you don’t have one, this could send out red flags.
Check your online presence and make sure that you are findable. Even better if you can add information that shows a strong track record or reputation. Be ready to put yourself out there.
10 Choose the right time
Desperation turns people off. If you are selling your site because its performance is on the way down or because you need to, it will put buyers off. People are unlikely to buy if they feel the business has major problems. So don’t be tempted to jump ship as soon as things get tough. Buyers will usually see through this and stay away.
Choose your time of sale wisely. The best time to sell is when your website is performing well. If you are in the midst of a downturn, try and wait it out until it is once again on the up before making your sale.
Get ready to sell
So there you have 10 ways to make your business as sellable as possible. Soon you can be making the exit you want from your business and hopefully for a tidy sum. Make sure your documents and accounts are in order, your site is optimized for sale, and you are ready to sell and put in the work needed. Do you feel there is still a lot to work on or are you ready to take the leap?