When it comes to building a business that you are planning on selling, you should begin with an end in mind. The end is making your business as attractive as possible for a prospective buyer. There are several ways you can go about doing this, and those are exactly what we are going to dive into today.
First understand this: our lives are in constant flux. The things we love, things we are passionate about and seem to talk nonstop about, die and wither away. We move onto new projects and cultivate new ambitions. With this in mind, the best way to create an exit strategy is to remove yourself as much as possible from the business.
The less you are involved, the easier it will be to sell the business and move onto that next big project or shiny new ambition.
The question is: how do you do it?
There is a term in the entrepreneur world for people who don’t have any systems, employees, or contractors in place — the dreaded solopreneur. While there is nothing wrong with being a solopreneur, it has a fair share of drawbacks that many of you out there reading this right now might be experiencing.
A solopreneur relies too much on himself. All he has in his operation is himself! This can seriously hamper growth. When you are wearing too many hats, you won’t be accomplishing much. Studies have shown that multitasking is not the greatest use of your effort. Instead, you should be focused on specific tasks that move the needle of your business’ progress the most.
Instead of doing everything yourself, learn about systems you can use to manage certain aspects of your business, or hire people to do specific tasks for you. Even hiring a part time virtual assistant (VA) at the average cost of $300 a month can shave dozens of hours off from you having to work on tedious projects, allowing you to focus on the parts of your business that you excel at.
Even if the people you hire are not as good as you at the task, their work can still give you an edge and up your revenue. You might be fantastic at creating content, for instance, but if you have several affiliate sites, you are not going to have enough time to write for them all. It is okay to outsource this. Most of the readers of these sites probably are not expecting to read content at Hemingway-level quality, but it should still be GOOD content.
Once you start delegating more and systemizing your process, you will be able to alleviate one of the biggest concerns buyers have about buying a business:
How much time does it take to run?
Most buyers worry about how much work it will take to run a website. That’s why AdSense and Amazon businesses sell so fast and so well on our marketplace — in many ways they are almost completely hands off. Businesses like these are super attractive, especially for Newbie Norms and Portfolio Pauls who are not looking to dump a lot of their personal time into their business acquisitions.
The more you can remove required labour power from the business on a weekly basis, the more attractive it is going to be, and the quicker you will stop being a solopreneur.
Remember: whenever possible, you want to automate. In our post about building human machines, we go over this process in depth. If you cannot create a software or a tool to systemize something, then you need to effectively and quickly train someone for those specific tasks, so you can be free to grow your business in other ways. When you train an entire team to do certain tasks, you can start focusing on higher level tasks for your business. When you do eventually sell your business, it makes your entire business that much more valuable if you decide to hand over the team as well who are trained on your systems and processes.
Or you could keep this team of “human machines” to pump out new websites or profitable streams of income over and over again on repeat. First, you must understand how to create processes for people to follow, and then you can take advantage of having a team that helps automate the heavy lifting portions of your business.
Not only will your business look far more desirable to a prospective buyer, but also it can increase the value of your business with your newfound ability to expand it so much faster.
As already stated, systems are the first prong to use when it comes to shaving hours off your work week. There are several tools that help you systemize your business, whether those tools are people (such as the human machines concept) or software.
We are going to cover just a few examples of how to systemize your online business here; obviously, there are a lot more out there, and if we are missing one that is important, please leave a comment and let us know how you use that system in your business!
For an AdSense or Amazon website, email marketing might be a very small part of what you are doing. However, if you are building out a SaaS business, your email list of subscribers becomes an incredibly important asset to your business. In fact, it could be THE most important asset since it helps to cut down churn, raises the lifetime value per customer, and leads to successful upsells and launches of other products down the road.
Email marketing automation can exist in all sorts of different formats.
For example, you might want to create a boot camp series where your subscribers get to learn something over the course of a week and you drip it out via email.
Or maybe you are trying to aggressively sell something — you can build more value to your product by emailing more information about it to your email subscribers.
Do you have a score of incredibly useful blog posts? You can set up a special email sequence where over a few weeks all of your new subscribers get an email about those posts specifically.
This is a fantastic way to keep breeding new life into old content and to make sure that your new subscribers don’t miss out on the good stuff just because they came to your business after you had already promoted that piece of content.
Email marketing automation can range from the very inexpensive Mailchimp (starting at a nice $0 a month since it is free) all the way to very high end solutions such as Infusionsoft, Ontraport, or Hubspot (which is what we are using here at Empire Flippers), which costs thousands of dollars.
An automated email sales funnel is an incredibly powerful tool to have, and it can add significant revenue to your business while only requiring you to set it all up just once.
Now that is an awesome system.
Almost everyone in the online business world should be doing this. Content is absolutely key to growing your business further, and it is required at every stage of the buying process — whether you are using SEO or paid traffic and regardless of the business model you are working in.
A good content team will consist of:
These people are often at the heart of bigger sites, especially AdSense sites that are earning over $10k per month. If you build out a team to handle all of your content, you’ve just saved hundreds of hours.
Now when you sell your business, you might decide to include the team with the sale, which could help you negotiate a higher price to your prospective buyer. Or you might want to keep the team you have built to go ahead and keep building out more and more sites for your portfolio that you can keep selling off as they mature into profitability.
A content team can be small. In fact, one VA might be able to wear several hats at once. If you cannot hire full time, there are plenty of freelancers looking for extra gigs. All you have to do is go to Upwork.com and submit a job proposal to get started whenever you need someone.
Eventually by using Upwork, you will have a group of vetted freelancers for you to use. These people will have done a good job for you in the past, so you’ll feel comfortable using them over and over again.
This is a great example of where a human machine plus software might come in handy. You can set up a VA to write out all of your posts in advance, and then use a service like Hootsuite or Edgar to automate the postings across your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social profiles.
This is a pretty simple idea, so there’s no need to go into much detail here.
That being said, social media posting can be very valuable for SEO purposes to get all those desirable social signals from Google, so you can start ranking highly for your keywords.
In some aspects, part of an SEO team can be handled by the writer in the content team. However, there are many tedious tasks involved in doing SEO properly, and thus most successful SEO people rely heavily on outsourced VAs to do the majority of these smaller tasks for them.
A good SEO team will likely consist of these job roles:
There are two main tools we use at Empire Flippers when it comes to managing our teams effectively:
Trello is an invaluable corkboard-based workflow software. Our editorial calendar is based off of it as well as our development projects that we have with our programmers. It is an incredibly useful tool and it can be used for several different workflows: SEO, editorial, and development. It can even be used for lead follow up, where leads appear in a sales sequence.
Sweet Process acts as our “best practices” database in the cloud for our team to be able to access. If anyone in our team has a question about some standard procedure that we do, they can simply login to Sweet Process and read up on that procedure.
These two tools are really great when you start building out larger teams and want a central location for knowledge without constantly being pinged by employees on Skype.
These systems are both highly recommended for the entrepreneur looking to remove themselves further from the bottleneck of their company.
You can only do so much.
You can only wear so many hats and still be effective at growing your business. Through the process of systemizing and building out a team, your business becomes more valuable.
If you do decide to build a team for a larger online business, you should consider whether or not you’re going to transfer that team over to the new owner.
In either case, you should have a set of written documentation of best practices. You can use something like Sweet Process or something as simple as a free Google Doc that outlines the best practices that your current team follows.
When you master building a team and systemization, you will be able to build out websites far more quickly as well as take purchased websites and increase their revenues faster. You will open up countless hours for you to be able to focus on the high level tasks that can take your business to the next level.
What kind of systems have you built?
How do you systemize your business? Leave a comment below; we would love to hear!