April 10, 2014
Entrepreneurs build businesses from scratch – that’s the way they roll, right? Not always…
Starting from scratch can include unnecessary headaches and getting paid pennies before you see any real cash. Good thing that’s not the only approach…
Meet the mini-mogul, the people who are buying websites that are already up and running and growing them into powerhouse businesses.
Today, we have Ace Chapman to share his insights and some how-to on buying businesses that are already profitable. Of course, we’ll also be digging into the advantages and disadvantages to the mini-mogul approach as compared to starting from scratch.
Afraid you don’t have the cash to buy businesses? Don’t worry, Ace even shares advice on financing options you might not know are available.
What do you think? Is the entrepreneur approach for you or do you want to go the way of the mini-mogul? Let us know on SpeakPipe or comment below!
Announcer: Welcome to the Empire flippers podcast. Are you sick and tired of Gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance. Worried that EBook you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone, join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe from Epirem flippers.
Justin Cooke: Welcome to episode 89 of The Empire Flippers podcast, I’m your host Justin Cooke and I’m here with Hot Money, Joe Magnotti. What’s going on buddy?
Joe Magnotti: What’s up everybody, Game of Thrones back in action.
Justin Cooke: Game of Thrones is back in action, I haven’t watched it yet, you haven’t watched it yet, but I’m pretty fired up. Me and my girlfriend really get into that show, we’re fanatics, we’re freaks. I’m not posting all over Facebook but I definatley dig it and it’s a topic of conversation here.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I’ve been avoiding Facebook, don’t give it away.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, I know right. So, alright man, the heart of this week’s episode so were going to be talking about the entrepreneur vs. the mini mogul approach. We actually sat down or I sat down with Ace Chapman, from Acechapman.com and had a really fascinating conversation. We’re talking about the difference between are you a real Entrepreneur if you’re buying small businesses and building them out vs starting from scratch.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I actually listed to Ace’s history on another podcast, he’s a very interesting story. You guys should look it up, but I don’t know if you guys got into that very much or not.
Justin Cooke: No not really, we were talking about things like validating, niche selection, the difference in doing it from scratch, from purchasing a business. We’re going to cover how to see the bigger picture, others people’s money, were going to talk about financing options and the disadvantages of buying businesses. We also do some action steps, so we’re going to take our buddies over at tropicalMBA.com, we’re going to talk about their Rip, Pivot, Jam philosophy and how to apply it to buying small business and online websites and I think that will be pretty interesting. Before we do that, buddy, let’s do some updates, news and info.
First thing is, we are building out some FAQ’s for all of our listings, we’ve had the problems where some of the listings where we have the same questions over and over again and we’re realizing it would be better to have a nice collection of frequently asked questions so that we’re not updating the sellers multiple times.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, so sorry to our sellers, I know we’ve done this before where we’ve asked the same question over and over and actually to buyers, we can get you these answers faster if we’ve already answered them so we’re looking at putting together a list of frequently asked questions together, that will be nice and easy for you to access on the listings. If you guys want to see anything added to that, in addition to FAQs, or something interesting, that you think would be good to add to the listings, please let us know.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, form a buying perspective what could we put in the listings that would give you better due diligence, help you make better decisions about what you’re purchasing. We would like to hear the [00:02:31] from you because that’s something we’re working on right now, so we can make those changes and add them to our development team, add them to the list of laundry list of things that their working on that would be nice.
The second thing that we want to mention is we had a problem and lots of people have a problem where they can’t accept PayPal payments over ten thousand dollar. So say were selling for fifteen thousand dollars, PayPal just would not accept it. You were on the horn with PayPal the other day. Tell me what happened?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah it’s so annoying, some customers really just really want to pay with PayPal, they don’t want do a wire, they want to pay with PayPal and I understand that and you know for something that’s a reasonable amount of money we should be able to accept it but over $10,000 was not accepted by PayPal but I was on the phone with them and I was telling them “hey we get a lot of large wires and I would love to give you guys that business”-
Justin Cooke: They would love to have business.
Joe Magnotti: So why can’t we just get that limit raised, so they raised our limit to $60,000, I have to say I’m not to keen on taking a $59,000 PayPal payment and paying them the 2.2%, I’d rather pay the 20 bucks and do the wire, but if there is something where someone wants to pay by PayPal and it’s $20 or $25,000 dollars, sure. We can do it now.
Justin Cooke: Its interesting, so they went back through our account and looked at like the same buyer sending multiple PayPal payments and that’s kind of how you prove to them that we need to have up, so if you’re in a situation where you need to take PayPal larger than 10,000 and you’ve done something like this, you can call a PayPal and try to get them to remove that limit of 10,000.
Joe Magnotti: Ill just mention in the same breath, on the same phone call you should definitely ask them about lowering rates, because while they do have a standard tiered approach to getting your rate lowered, you can always ask for an exception and try to get down to another 10th of a point, which always adds up.
Justin Cooke: Hot Money, overhear, trying to save 10ths of points, man that’s cool. Another thing I want to mention, is we’ve got the Apprentice Vincent moving out of the nest man.
Joe Magnotti: I got the Billy Joel song stuck in my head, that Moving Out song.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, he’s moving out of the nest, so he’s getting a condo with another guy, we’ve got another entrepreneur here that’s brought on an apprentice, so their getting a place together so that’s pretty exciting he’s going to be on is own, doing his own thing, here in Davao? Speaking about Davao, it’s getting really busy lately, we’ve had a lot of entrepreneurs either passing through, coming to visit or actually kind of picking up roots and coming here to stay. I get it, I mean Chang Mai, id say, has definitely always been the, the more popular spot, for kind of the X-Pat entrepreneurs, especially the online business guys but were starting to get a lot more of that in Davao. I think it’s getting pretty exciting because as it kind of like opens up the peer group here you get a lot more ideas, different ways of thinking about business, and working on business there’s a lot more connections to help each other out.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, it will be interesting to see, I think Chang Mai is going through their burning season now.
Justin Cooke: (laughs) They are, it’s the burning season.
Joe Magnotti: So I can imagine that people would want to get out of there, maybe do their Visa runs, and come down to Davao.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, we start recruiting people, hey it’s burying in Chang Mai, Davao’s nice baby, come hang out with us.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah for sure.
Justin Cooke: Another thing, and the last thing we’ll mention, is Joe just did an interview the other day, I’ve been doing a bunch of different interviews on podcasts, and also written interviews. If you’d like to interview us, feel free to reach out. You can email us at email@example.com send us a request and we’d love to either get on a podcast with you, get on the phone, get on a video, or even do a written interview with you as well. If that’s something, you’re interested in just let us know. Alright man, enough about that, let’s get right into the heart of this weeks’ episode.
Announcer: This is The Empire Flippers podcast.
Justin Cooke: Alright, today I’m talking to Ace Chapman from AceChapman.com. Where going to be getting into kind of the entrepreneurial versus the mini Mogul approach. I’m really excited to have you on the program man, tell us a little about your backstory and how we met up and how we’re talking today.
Ace Chapman: Oh, yeah that’s also a cool story, how we met. So I bought my first business when I was 19, it was an internet business, back in the day when, the people buying and selling websites was not quite what it is today that was 1998. I bought an online stock market simulator and ended up taking that … It had about ten thousand members, it was one of those cases where I saw a business, they were definitely not doing as much as I felt like they could do with it. It was kind of a side project for this web development firm, out of Atlanta. I called them, convinced them to owner finance a portion of the site, and I pulled together a friend of mine to invest some money, and some credit cards. Without really realizing it, completed my first tiny leveraged buyout of a business and grew that, eventually had 250,000 members in 70 countries. All of that was exciting until, as we all know, there was the big crash, the first internet crash. I end up selling that business for about one tenth of what I could have sold it, when everything was great, and I got really interested in buying the whole idea of buying selling businesses. I ended up buying a couple of offline businesses, buying a few online deals and so over the past 15 years I’ve been flipping business. Bought and sold 13 offline, own a couple of offline businesses right now, done over 20 internet deals.
Justin Cooke: Yes, so you’ve done quite a few offline deals, and I know you’ve talked to a lot of offline people as well. There’s an interesting podcast with you talking about offline deals and offline versus online. I think that’s pretty interesting, that’s another discussion. Today we’re going to get into the Entrepreneurial vs. mini mogul approach. You and I had mentioned this via email, we were chatting about this a bit, but like, it does seem think that if you’re going to be a real Entrepreneur, you have to be the founder title or the founder tag, you have to start the business from scratch. Is that necessarily true, do you think?
Ace Chapman: Well, you know, I think it’s more of a branding thing. When it comes to the whole concept of Entrepreneurship, and the movies, and the commercials and everything that we see about being an Entrepreneur, it’s starting a business from scratch. You know the truth is, it’s just a lot of headaches to start. As any Entrepreneur knows, one of the most fun things for me, is when I have a buyer client that, as started a business in the past, and we close on a deal, and the very first day they’re running the business and money is coming in, and they see it deposited into their bank account, they called me, and their like, money is in my account, and this is day one. This is great.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, it’s a little different than you know, working for peanuts, when you’re trying to, like sleeping on your buddies couch trying to get your startup running. I know, it’s interesting too because when they’re buying a business, their like, wow that seems like a much better approach because I’m making cash from day one. Isn’t there something about the story, like to have the story, you know, I was living at the office or I had this horrible job and I was able to quit it to start, my start-up. There’s something sexy and kind of Hollywoodish about, that entrepreneurial story, where you went from nothing to something the rags-to-riches story. I think there’s a lot of people making money that don’t have that story or don’t need it.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: They are acquiring web properties and businesses. We’re going to talk about how their doing this with, not nearly as much cash as you might think. Their acquiring these businesses and starting out from day one with cashflow. We’re going to talk about this too, but cash flow’s king man. Cash flow allows you to do a lot of different things in your business and really improve the business where you, it’s much more difficult when you’re just starting out
Ace Chapman: Yeah, I mean, you know there are three stages that a business goes through. A lot of people don’t realize this, but even a lot of businesses that we look up to, and the Entrepreneurs that we look up to, like Steve Jobs and the Richard Branson’s of the world, they’ve really become experts at this whole mogul process, so it’s something that, whether you want to start off by buying a business or one day you want to have a big business you have to understand what we’re calling this mini mogul strategy.
You have to understand deal making, negotiating and that kind of thing but at the very beginning even if you’re starting a business from scratch it’s a great to have that tool in your tool belt, of knowing how to go out and acquire a competitor if that’s a possibility but I like kind of skipping the start-up phase and going right into what I call the platform stage. Where you find a business that may, somehow be related, to the business that you want to found or start and you build your business on top of that using the resources and the cash flow and that kind of thing on top of something that’s already successful in addition to having hopefully customers that are coming into that business or doing business with that company that are going to be a fit for the product that you want to release. There are really small opportunities to go out and buy something it tends to be a lot less expensive than a lot of people think it is.
Justin Cooke: Ace, you know I talked to Drew Sanocki, on a previous podcast and we were looking at, some of the opportunities in like a $500,000 to two million-dollar space. Some of our listeners were going, oh that doesn’t have much to do with us, but what I think is interesting is his approach. They have certain metrics that they look at in a business, that says I can buy this and I can flip it, and within twelve months, 18 months, or can keep it but it has expandability and I know how to expand it. I think, what our listeners should pay attention to, or should recognize is that this approach can be done further down the exponential growth curve. Drew has his level at lets say, 500,000 or a million, but there are people doing, this at fifty thousand, sixty thousand, and there are ways to finance that money, put that money together. Now there’s more work, if you buy a $50,000 business you’re going to have put quite a bit of work into it, to get up to the 500,000 level. It’s a hell of a lot less work than getting from nothing to a $50,000 business, which is where, a lot of time, effort, sweat and tears go into.
Let’s get right into our first point, Ace, which is validating niche selection. So if you’re starting from scratch, you have a brand new business, one of the first things you have to do is, you have to determine your niche. This is a big problem for people starting out, or a big question, everyone’s fearful, their looking for validation from friends or family or other entrepreneurs. Do you think this is a good Niche? Is this going to work for me? The reason their doing that is they don’t want to put all this time and effort, energy, sweat, blood and tears into a niche that sucks. That isn’t going to make them any money. You can, MVP it at all you want, you know, Minimum Viable Product but, you know, there are quite a few in the early stage, that just fail.
Ace Chapman: One of the things that, we emailed you about this, when we were getting started with what do we want to talk about today, when you look at the whole startup process and coming up with a Minimum Viable product, it really points towards the huge opportunity of buying an existing business. When you’re trying to come up with that MVP, there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of time that goes into, hey is this viable. You can have people that are telling you one thing or may even purchase, but you get out to the market and there’s still just no guarantee that after putting in all the work, after proving the Minimal Viable Product did sell, that this is a big enough market or that you can get access to Market or that you can buy customers at the right price. If there’s no guarantee when you are starting something from scratch, there’s no way to guarantee it, but people are at least starting to realize, I do need to get into this with some kind of guarantee. The truth is the best guarantee is to buy something that’s already making money right now.
Justin Cooke: If you’ve got an eCommerce site, let’s say it’s getting 30,000 visits a month. It’s doing three plus page views per visit, their time on site is like a minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes something like that. That’s already showing that there’s interest. People are going to that site either organically, or through paid advertising. Their clicking through and their staying because they’re interested. There’s your MVP. It’s already tested, now, you may have to change the offers a bit, and were going to get into some things you can do, but it’s already validated because it’s already got that traction, it’s that’s already started.
Ace Chapman: Exactly.
Justin Cooke: So I talked about this a bit earlier, you can purchase a business when it hits that good trajectory, so you can look at certain metrics that are showing the site is taking off. It’s starting to get traction. What would you look for, or what kind of things do you think of, when you’re looking at a site, that it is starting to pop a bit. It is starting to pop above your buy line, let’s say.
Ace Chapman: Obviously every metric, you want to be increasing, but I’ve definitely done deals where the owner kind of checks out. We’ve got one that a client is negotiating right now, and sometimes I’d really prefer, whether it’s an offline deal or online deal, to find something with what I call low hanging fruit. I would rather find something where I can introduce a new product or I know something that I can advertise to this database of users. There is this untapped source of traffic, I like to have a little more control. It’s great to see traffic increasing, its great to see the sales increasing. Its great to see those things but, I really would like to have some opportunity in that business, that I know, I’m going to be able to come in and introduce to the business, that’s going to, drop to the bottom line immediately.
Justin Cooke: We’ve talked about this, in like strategic purchases, so you’re buying this, and you know, they’ve already got a customer base, that absolutely would buy whatever products that you have with their main business. So acquiring that strategic purchase, aside from the revenue that it’s bringing in already, today, you know that with the purchase, you can get x amount of those users, visitors, whatever, to buy this additional product. That’s upside for you that the current seller doesn’t even have available. Let’s talk a little bit about, I think this is a myth, that some people think, that no Entrepreneurs are going to sell a successful or growing company, or start-up, like know ones going to do that. If you’re on that exponential curve and it’s just starting to pop, no one’s going to sell that business. What I think they’re missing here is that when they get to that point, they don’t know what’s coming. They look back and they’re looking, I spent the last two years of my life, I’ve spent the first year-and-a-half working for peanuts and now in the last six months I’ve made a bit of cash. I finally got to the point where I can move on and do something else or get away from it sometimes. Or they just get sick of it, they have another idea that they really want to check out, and their early stage entrepreneurism. It’s like a disease, but they want to move on to this other new, exciting project, and this one is kind of boring for them.
You’ve seen this exciting project, and this one’s kind of boring, for them, you’ve seen this too right? Have you had that question, where people are like, why would someone sell a successful … it’s crazy to me, I don’t understand it.
Ace Chapman: One of the things, people come in, and it’s great to come in, with a little bit of suspicion. I really want to dig in and find out. Anytime there’s a great business, I want to dig in and find out why exactly are you selling the business. Even from just a negotiation standpoint, I want to know, hey how motivated is this person? Like you mentioned, we talked earlier, about the fact that starting a business is tough. I’ve seen this … I’m dealing with it right now with a seller whose just been in business for 2.5 years, has built this business has grown it from zero to half-a-million and just started making money, like literally, in the last few months and now they’re just like, okay I’ve poured everything I can into this, and it’s a business, that like I said, it’s gone from zero to a half million. It could easily be a million dollar business, but they’ve given everything they could, every ounce of their energy and creativity and their just done, their just absolutely done with it. Then you also have [crosstalk 00:17:31] yeah go ahead.
Justin Cooke: They kind of see where it’s gotten and their like, oh my god, it took me so much work to get here, I think I’m just done with it. Right-
Ace Chapman: Yeah
Justin Cooke: They tell you that, they’ll give another reason, or maybe they do actually legitimately have another idea, they want to pursue, or they had another business that’s taken off even faster than this one, so that’s the one that really deserves their time. There’s are all kinds of reasons that people sell these.
Ace Chapman: The other thing that people forget, is that, at the end of the day we’re all living life. We see, one of the best sources of deals for us, is divorce attorneys. When people are going through divorce. They’ve got those kind of-
Justin Cooke: You’re an evil man, Ace. You’re an evil man. You’re targeting them now, you’re an ambulance chaser, broker. What’s going on.
Ace Chapman: Yeah but the truth is, you’re doing them a service, they have to sell this business to, pay off for alimony or whatever the case is. They need a quick sell, so it’s definitely a service that you’re providing them at the same time. Life happens, and people want life changes or have life changes, so they need to sell their business.
Justin Cooke: Let’s talk about that second point, which is, just getting traction in your business. When you’re starting a business from scratch, the most hustle you’re going to put into it, is in those early days. I talked about it, like you know, you’re blogging for pennies. You see a lot of this, especially in the content marketing space. I can tell you as a content marketer, that it can be awfully painful when you’re not getting any return. You don’t even know if you will get a return. Later on, when the business, or if the business takes off, and starts hitting that trajectory, that’s looking positive, you’re going to get paid back for all that content marketing. So if-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Someones willing to sell their business and it’s got that kind of trajectory, that kind of take off, and their willing to walk away from it, you as a buyer can get value for all those pennies they were paying, you can capitalize on that.
Ace Chapman: Absolutely, Absolutely and there are some people, that are in, they’re in a business because they’ve got some skill. They’re really just looking to leverage their skill and so they leverage that skill in the business, and a lot of times their passionate about that. It’s something that they’re going to do anyways, and so hey, this is a way to possibly profit off of this. But that’s a smaller percentage of Entrepreneurs, most Entrepreneurs go into business because they have a vision, I want to buid wealth, I want to protect my family, I want to have some sort of financial fortitude. That’s the real goal, when you really breakdown, okay what’s the best path. Is it leveraging my time in the business, or is it leveraging business and being in the business of running and owning businesses.
Justin Cooke: Yeah you remind me of … this reminds me of someone who buys a franchise, let’s say a 7-Eleven franchise and then they end up managing it themselves. They have effectively bought themselves a job,-
Ace Chapman: Right.
Justin Cooke: I think a lot of skilled people do this in service-based businesses. Where they set themselves up and they make a nice living with their business but they haven’t really replaced themselves. Those deals, those sites are sellable, those businesses are sellable. It gets a bit tricky though when the seller tries to put too high a value on their time-
Ace Chapman: Right.
Justin Cooke: Right, you’ve probably seen that before where the sellers like, well, or they say their time is much, much less than it actually is. These types of things, but service-based businesses are sellable, it just gets a bit trickier. With Entrepreneurs, when they finally get that traction, ball of steam up and rolling, you know it’s a great opportunity I think for a buyer, to take on something that’s already working. They’ve put in all the hard hours, all the sweat equity, and then you get to capitalize on that. Let’s talk a little bit about the benefit of leveraging success. When you’re just starting off, and let’s say you’ve got a silly, authority site, Adsense site, making 200 bucks a month. I put in improvements in, that affected by 20%, I make an extra forty bucks a month. That’s, a 20% growth and I only make 40 bucks extra a month, I mean, I can go out to eat once more that month. It’s not a whole lot of value.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Whereas leveraging a business that’s already had some success, it’s already at the $3000 net month profit a month mark, where you’re making an extra 600 dollars a month. That’s a pretty nice car payment.
Ace Chapman: I love it. Even taking a step back, taking a step back even before you get to that, it’s just the fact that your able to solve problems, that you are going to see benefit you, at the bottom line. One of the things we forget about as Entrepreneurs is, man there’s a lot of work in those first two years, just getting the thing to work right. Dealing with customer service issues, tweaking, the very basic operational type things. You don’t have time, average Entrepreneur doesn’t have time to optimize the business so their making the most amount of money. They’ve got to get things just working, to the point, that they can make some money.
Justin Cooke: Keep the lights on. Right? Keep the business running-
Ace Chapman: Exactly.
Justin Cooke: Keep the customers like around-
Ace Chapman: Exactly.
Ace Chapman: So to come in, at that next level and be able to just … there’s just such a huge opportunity, that I wanted to make sure … that in addition to talking about how you do that, that you recognize that, is a unique opportunity, to be able to come into a business, and just start to optimize and tweak things and see what changes can I make to improve the amount of money that’s coming in.
Justin Cooke: Ace, it’s funny that you mentioned that because, we’ve said this publically on our block and stuff, but we’re looking for and apprentice, and we’ll be looking for another one here soon. We’ve said, look we make lots of mistakes, and there are huge opportunities, huge opportunities, where there’s money, there’s a pile of gold over here. We don’t see or were too busy focusing on some other area, but there are, a ton of opportunities on early stage company, that you, as kind of having a bigger view on things, or a different view on things, can pick up those pots of gold that initial Entrepreneur is missing. Another thing I think, is that when you have cash flow, when you have the money coming in, in a business that you just purchased from day one, you can take that cash reinvested into growth. The other Entrepreneur may have had to live on that cashflow. They might have been, making their way in Chiang Mai on $1,500 a month, with their $1,500 a month net profit business, whereas if you’re buying it, you have a job you have other responsibilities, you by it up, you could take that money and reinvest it into growth, add someone to the team who can help grow it. Buy software development, that helps expand beyond the founders initial interest, so you know-
Ace Chapman: Yeah
Justin Cooke: That cashflow allows you to do things, that the original Entrepreneur wasn’t able to do.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, absolutely. If you can go into owning a business, buying an existing profitable business, and really treat it like a start-up, it’s one of the most powerful ways to leverage the opportunity. Hey, if you’re already saying, I’m willing to go the next six months, year, two years, without income. I’m willing to spend money on development, and employees, and all the start-up cost during that period of time. If you can go into a business that is producing cash flow, and still use those same methods, that becomes a powerful strategy. Even if it’s just, hey, I want this business to pay itself off, which in of itself, is as a huge wealth building strategy. I want this thing, I’m going to buy it at two times earnings or two annual times earnings. I want to pay it off within the next 24 months, now you’ve got this business, that it’s paid itself off. It’s got cash flow. You’ve been improving it for those two years, Its just a really powerful way to get in and start to make those changes and grow the business.
Justin Cooke: So, what I really like Ace, is this fourth point, which is to, basically see the bigger picture. You know this, as an Entrepreneur you can get so focused on your own business and so myopic in your, kind of view, and kind of what your original vision was, that it’s hard for you to see those pots of gold, that I was mentioning earlier and so you coming in, as an outside third-party, can see those opportunities that the original founder couldn’t. I mean it’s one of the reasons that we have masterminds, right, because someone else’s insight into your business, may provide you a wealth of information that you just can’t see from your current position. From where you’re sitting, that’s just not visible-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: I think a lot of many Moguls, that are buying these sites that can see the bigger opportunity, can do really well. I forget the name of the guy, but he bought a business, that basically did pop-ups, that helped you like quiz you your visitors, and ask them questions, and have them opt-in and provide you feedback. It was originally targeted toward bloggers, I forget the name of it now, but like quala – qualaroo I think-
Ace Chapman: Okay.
Justin Cooke: It was targeted toward bloggers at a very low price point, and the guy bought it switched the target market, to start-ups, like funded start-ups and added a couple of features and started selling it for several hundred dollars rather than some like crazy $20 product. He could see the use in a different market and could charge, 20x what they were trying to charge for before to just your average typical blogger. I think those bigger picture opportunities are pretty drastic.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, I’ll tell you, I’ve got one story where I was the first owner, who didn’t have the vision. It was an offline business that was, retail clothing, when I bought the business it was at about 400,000 in revenue. Grew it to 600,000 and I felt like, wow, this is great for this business, and this kind of thing, and this is really as good as going to get, so I sold the business. I kept a little bit of equity so I’ve been keeping up with the guys who bought it from me, and they started to make some tweaks in a business, moved to a bigger location, which with the lease, I just felt like oh that’s just too much. They’ve actually grown that business to 1.2 million and I was glad I kept some equity. I met with the guys recently and they basically said, “hey, we’re going to buy you out” and that kind of thing,
Justin Cooke: Oh.
Ace Chapman: “Because, we think it could get even bigger” They’re about to do another even bigger space and so we want to … I was like, okay ill get … but I’m glad I kept the equity from the time that I did. It’s definitely a case, where, just my vision for what that thing could be … I was at 600,000, they’ve doubled it, and now they think it can go even bigger than that. Even just from a vision level, sometimes it just you get into your flow, you feel like you’re doing your thing, and I’m like, hey, I’m Ace, I know what I’m doing, you know.
Justin Cooke: Yeah. Ace-[crosstalk 00:28:21] Some founders are stubborn too. They said, no, no, no I created this business, to solve this problem, and that’s not the biggest problem. That’s not the biggest pain point, they’re I don’t care, I created it, to fix this, and they miss that bigger problem where if they solved that problem, they could end up of getting paid quite a bit more.
You actually lead into, kind of, the fifth point which we’re going to talk about. You kept a bit of equity in that business that you sold, so I think you know and we’re going to get into this, but like you can structure deals all different kinds of ways. Buying a business outright in a cash deal, I mean that’s one way to do it for sure, but there are plenty of others. One thing that you know quite a bit about, Ace, so I’m going to ask you some questions for our listeners benefit. I want to finance a deal. I want to buy a 50,000, $60,000 site, I don’t know exactly where to get the cash for that, maybe I’ve got the cash but I’m scared of tie it up all into one deal. What are some different ways I can finance a 50, 60,000 thousand dollar site?
Ace Chapman: So the First place that you want to go is the seller, and a lot of people feel like okay, well I can’t really convince the seller to do anything. One of the strategies is to give the seller something they want. So in any deal you’ve got four areas of negotiation, when it comes to financing. You’ve got the basic areas of what the price is going to be, what the down payment is going to be, the financing structure, and then you’ve got a little bit of equity, like I just mentioned on that last deal. When it comes down to those, one of the great things that I like to do with sellers is, just ask them okay, which one, of those is most important to you. You can pretty much guess, 98% of the time which one, they’re going to say. Its like price! I want price! One of the strategies you can use to get financing on the smaller side is to say hey, you know what, I’m going to give you exactly what you want.
What do you want, are you sure you want 60 or do you want maybe even a little more than 60, and the mentality you have to change a little bit is what makes a good deal. You don’t want to get caught up in thinking the way to sellers do, that a deal is made up by price. Most sellers are like, okay I just want my price, I want my price. The truth is, if I can control the terms, then I’ll pay whatever price. The most extreme is, if I can get a 20 billion dollar company and I have to pay 30 billion for it, but control the terms, I’ll do that all day long. I’m going to pay half a million down, and 50,000 a month, for the next six thousand years.
Justin Cooke: Yeah-
Ace Chapman: You’ve got to give something, and figuring out what to give and how to give and sometimes that could be equity. We’ve talked to a lot of sellers, they really do have a vision, but we’ve talked about the seller that’s run out of energy. Its like man, I’ve given everything I can to this thing, I really feel like it has a lot of potential, but I can’t go any further with it. Those sellers, sometimes we win over, by saying, hey you know I’m going to let you take a little equity, you’re going to be a to be a part of this thing, I want to get some financing, and here’s how I need to structure it to make it happen.
Justin Cooke: You know I love that approach where you let the seller keep a bit of equity, especially for business for, it’s their baby. They were the founder-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: They kind of grew it from scratch and their worried about a missed opportunity so maybe their willing to take a bit less cash, maybe significantly less cash, maybe if you give them some of that up-side. I think, that’s a pretty interesting, as a buyer, that’s an interesting trick you can use for the people that are kind of worried about selling their babies. Say hey, I’m going to keep your baby, I’m going to continue to grow it. I’ll even give you the up-side, so if it turns into this crazy, crazy business, then you have some opportunity there as well.
We recently had a buyer come to us, there is a website, it’s about Soaps, it’s a TV website about Soaps. There is a heavy content requirement, a buyer came in and said, it’s making about one thousand 800 bucks a month, look I’m willing to do the business. I’m willing to buy the business, but here’s what I want. I want a discount, and so the seller said I’m willing to take a discount if you’re willing to continue to pay me to write the content for the site. He loves watching the Soaps, he loves writing the content, he actually really enjoys it. He said if you’re willing to guarantee me a bit of cash overtime, I’ll take less cash upfront. Obviously the buyer wanted to take out the sales price, and the seller was willing to do that as long as you kept him around to write the contract. That solves a big problem for the buyer, who doesn’t want to continue to write the content. He views that as a hassle because he’s more of a Portfolio Paul, type. So being able to keep the seller around, to write the content sounds fantastic for him.
There are deal structures, that it’s not like a win-lose scenario where you got one over on somebody, where it actually works better for both parties. So being creative in your structuring, and you’re financing I think it’s pretty interesting. Aside from seller financing, what other kind of financing options do you have?
Ace Chapman: I would love to talk … one of the things that I’ve got a lot of clients, and a lot of your listeners, can take advantage of this, instead of going out and trying to purchase a deal, just doing some sweat equity, doing some consulting, doing a lot of the skills that you know people are pretty familiar with online, but getting equity for that work instead of cash. There’s a lot of places you can go with that. For one, when it comes to …I mentioned that deal, but I do a lot of investing, I love getting equity. I feel like investing in a small business, and getting equity in small businesses, trumps investing in the stock market, all day long for a lot of reasons. One of which, I remember when I was young, my dad had a friend who owned a public company and I was trying to ask him some things about the company. Just basic things that I would want to know if I were going to buy the business myself. He’s like, oh no, I can’t tell you that. Its like, why in the world, would I invest in something where I can’t find out the same things, that I would find out if I were going to buy the business.
Justin Cooke: Yeah.
Ace Chapman: Getting equity is a very powerful thing. If you can end up taking over the business, eventually if you have that strategy, through negotiating some milestones and some things like that, but I really love, and this is a little bit easier with offline businesses, because somebody who is savvy at internet marketing. Their skillset is gold to the offline business. Not a lot of work you can have a big impact, another thing that I always say, when it comes to offline business, I’ve bought businesses that’ve had huge customer databases, that they hadn’t emailed. Just doing very [inaudible 00:34:43] … One of the businesses I own right now, has been in business for thirty years, makes great money, but they didn’t even have a website before I bought it.
Justin Cooke: Oh.
Ace Chapman: So-
Justin Cooke: Geeze, oh my god man, yes so I used to go to this dry cleaner and I was one of their best customers. They told me that because they had this system that tracked that, I think they did have emails, but they hadn’t used it for anything. All they used it for was kind of like their internal metrics and like-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: They weren’t using it from like a marketing perspective at all, they this powerful, I think custom-built system, they, these guys owned multiple dry cleaning shops and they weren’t using this huge customer databases, list that they had, they weren’t using it for anything other than internal tracking. Thinking about today it just kills me, that their not using that, you know, to make them more money.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. So if you don’t have any money, you know, that’s a place that you can start literally from nothing. I have clients all over the U.S. that are using that to go out and get equity in businesses, and in there’s some other things you can do once you own that equity.
Justin Cooke: Look, I think if you have that skill Ace, leveraging your skills in someone esles larger business is a hell of a lot easier to make, for you, and for them than it is to start from scratch and try to build the brand. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be starting from scratch building your brand maybe you can do that too. If you’re just getting started, helping other people who already have successful businesses make more, money is a hell of a lot easier, and more lucrative than trying to start off for Scratch and blogging for pennies. You know what I mean?
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Absolutely. [inaudible 00:36:11] all day long.
Justin Cooke: So lets, talk about, we’ve got some rose-colored, rose-tinted glasses on.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: So were talking all positive, and everything’s wonderful and I was making money with their businesses they’re buying online, but there are some disadvantages, there are some negatives that kick in too. The first being, that anytime you’re buying a business, you’re going to be cleaning up someone else’s crap. You’re going to be cleaning up their problems, you’re going to be cleaning up their programming code, you’re going to be cleaning up some legacy crap, from when they, they pivoted, they did this that and the other. It’s never like this clean, exactly as you wanted it laid out business.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. I’m an investor in a deal right now, where I was just talking to the owner this weekend, we’ve got to go through and just start from scratch really. It’s just we could get to work done but it’s so tough working around the old code, that it just makes sense, to start from scratch and do some new things. Obviously in a deal like that, you’ve got the customers, you’re making money, so at least you’re investing in something, that you know you’re going to get a ROI on but it’s still a pain.
Justin Cooke: It is. We’re doing a redesign right now, on Empire Flippers. We’re change the marketplace we’re doing a whole bunch of stuff with our brand and design. A log of the stuff we’ve done previously with the marketplace, we’re not able to use that code because someone worked on it, and someone else worked on it. So we’re having to start from scratch, but the real-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: The value though, is that we’ve already kind of validated some of the stuff that we’ve done. We know what’s working and what isn’t, so even though it’s a start from scratch, pay all over again, which is painful, we at least know, kind of what’s working, what’s not and we’ve got that I think, leg up, where we’ve at least taken the first couple of steps toward getting where we want to be.
Another disadvantage, tough I think, is that sellers, there’s always going to be stuff when you start getting into it, I’m talking due diligence and beyond, where you actually take over the business, that just, you didn’t know. Either the seller didn’t know, they hid from you, whatever it’s always a bit messier than the nice pretty picture when you’re buying it. I think one of the interesting points, and we’re doing this with our selling our [inaudible 00:38:16] and coming right now. It’s mostly passive, we don’t do all that much work with it, if we really wanted to drive that business forward and really expanded it, it would take a lot of time, it’s not a passive investment of time, if you’re going to want to grow that business. I think that’s something important to keep in mind, that sure if you want to buy-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: And kind of just kind of let sit, it that’s great, but if you expected to grow you’re going to have to put time in, you’re going to have to put money in, you’re going to have to put something in to make that happen.
Ace Chapman: Yeah, I think that a lot of people have this dream of, oh man, I’m going to go out, buy this business and chill by the beach for the rest of my life. That’s just not how it works, things are always changing, so in order to keep up with the fact that things are always changing, you have to be involved and make sure that the business is as well. A stagnant business is not going to continue to grow and be profitable.
Justin Cooke: What kind of soul crushing Entrepreneur are you? If you go in, and buy a business, and just let it wither on the vine, and die.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Honestly in some situations, you’ll make money because let’s say you bought it, 2X annual and it lasts for 2X, at pretty close to the same rate, and then it declines, and by the third year or something it’s gone. I mean you made money, but, what were you thinking? Why would you do that? Why would you buy an asset and not want to expand it?
Ace Chapman: I’ve seen it though-
Justin Cooke: Yeah.
Ace Chapman: I’ve seen it, we sell a deal, there’s like yeah, this is great and you go back like a few months later, and it’s like totally offline. Like really?
Justin Cooke: Yeah. That’s not a great [inaudible 00:39:47] and ill tell you, Ace, admission here, admission time. We did this, we did try to make a few changes but we bought Twi Tart, it’s like twitter background company. We made a couple of changes, but we didn’t really market the hell out of it, it wasn’t a big purchase for us either, and it did really well, we made money on it, but what the hell were we thinking, we should have expanded it. We were breaking into a market, looking back I kick myself. Don’t we all do that? I know, but
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Absolutely.
Justin Cooke: I could have done better with that purchase for sure. That’s what kills, that’s why I’m calling it soul sucking, because I don’t want anyone else to get stuck in that trap.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: The other thing, that I think is tricky, is that due diligence, can be a bit tough or tricky. Trying to determine whether everything that is being claimed as legitimate is rough, and that’s where we found a real mark for ourselves is where we’re able to do some of that vetting, beforehand, so-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: You have a better chance, it doesn’t take the buyers’ responsibility for due diligence out of the picture, they still have to do their own, but they have a much better chance of it not being fake information or sketching, or some of the more popular scams that are out there in that-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Website flipping community for example. What do you think, out [crosstalk 00:40:51] I mean how did you learn due diligence? I think everyone has gotten burned at one time or another, what do you think about that?
Ace Chapman: I think one of the most powerful things that I do, even when I am connecting with a seller, rather I’m dealing with a seller or a broker directly, is to get to know that person. You guys talked a lot about this online, your strategy of finding them on LinkedIn, getting connected with them on Facebook, and making sure that they even have a social media presence, is a big deal. Early on for me, it was just a low tech form of that, where in my area I would ask about a person. Hey, what kind of guy is this, bla bla blah. I would get to know them, find out about their family, what their kids doing. Getting that deep connection with a person, One they’re going to open up to you, and people like screwing over their friends, so if you can become a friend with a person, that’s powerful. Also, finding out about their reputation, you know one of those great things that I love about you guys, is you’ve done a great job at building a strong reputation and that’s a huge value, it doesn’t get rid of the fact that a buyer needs to come in and still do their due diligence, but man at least you’ve overcome the first hurdle which is, is this person totally trying to scam me?
Justin Cooke: Yeah. Yeah right. The first step is out of the way and that’s such a big one. It’s funny Ace, you mentioned us digging into the seller a bit, and people laugh at us about that, their like are you kidding me. What do you mean … I have to … I just don’t like to be online, we’ve had sellers tell us before. I mean it’s 2014 you’re gonna be online a bit, and then if you’re showing me some sort of like fake profiles where it’s obviously not really you or not I mean obviously that’s not good for us, and that simple stop, weeds out a ton of crap and it’s so helpful. I like what you’re talking about to, because you’re talking about offline business and kind of going around asking at the PTA meetings, and asking about the husband and wife, and kind of what their like with their kids and stuff. That’s some deep diving right there.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: But it makes sense because you’re able to find out a bit more about the seller and your right man, getting to know them, they’re going to be less likely to scam people that they like, or that they know. Totally get where you’re coming from, I think it applies online extremely where everyone is kind of like anonymous and so removing that piece is just a smart move. It’s one of the things we do but I think it’s the really helpful, especially when you’re doing business online.
Okay, Ace, let’s talk about a mini Moguls approach to the Rip, Pivot, Jam method. For anyone who’s not familiar with this, our buddies Dan and Ian over at The Tropical MDA podcast, talk about this, as a niche selection, kind of business start-up plan where you rip an idea, you pivot on it, and you jam on it. Let’s talk a little bit about how this can apply when you’re buying a business as opposed to starting from scratch.
Ace Chapman: Yeah. Great. Well, let’s start with rip. In the typical … if you’re starting a business, you’re going to look around at the competition, you’re going to figure out, okay, what can we do to make our product or our service better than theirs and hopefully beat them. When you’re buying a business, what you’re going to do is, the first step is to look at that business and take the very best ideas, one of the biggest problems that Entrepreneurs have, and this is offline and online, is they can do a lot of things in the business, but they don’t pay attention to that 80/20 principal, of what in my business is really driving revenue. A lot of times there is emotion attached to it, certain ideas and that kind of thing, but if you can do both of those things combined, look at the competition, take great ideas from them, take the best ideas of what the business is already doing, and try to create this long term growth based on the very best of both worlds, that’s a powerful way to start to inprroving a business once you buy it.
Justin Cooke: I like the idea of looking at businesses that are in parallel industries, or very similar industries, and looking at their success trajectory and trying to see what you can do to mimic it. So there’s a particular business we have that’s in the supplement industry, that’s a ton of different reasons and ways you can use supplements but you know although its in a particular niche you can look at supplements that are in a very similar or parallel niche, and look at the ones that are successful and see what marketing approaches they’ve used to be successful and apply it to your own, as long as it applies of the industry. I think, looking like right across the aisle, at some of the other businesses and industries, and looking at what’s worked for them is a great way to kind of boost your own business or to see at least what the potential is for that your website purchase of that business purchase.
Ace Chapman: I love it.
Justin Cooke: So Let’s talk a little about pivot. The traditional model, that would be to change the business a bit from your competition. You’ve already looked at your competition a bit in the Rip. In the pivot, here with a purchase site, there are a ton of ways you can do it and you have the cash flow to make these changes into actually, finance these changes yourself. One of the great ways to do it, I think it’s to look at target market. Is that the best? The highest value market, and the biggest problem you can solve, or that, that did this business or website and solve? If it’s not, you can look at changing the content marketing strategy, you can look at changing who you’re targeting and move up the value chain. Move up the marketing chain. You can change monetization pretty clearly. AdSense is generally considered a lower form of monetization so a site with a ton of traffic, that has maybe a really low click through rate, you can look at bringing advertisers on board that are going to pay you much more RPN, than Adsense is paying you, by adding those advertisers directly, Especially with a high-traffic site.
Ace Chapman: I love it. One of the things with Pivot, for a lot of the deals that I’ve done, has been looking at what the business is best at. Is the business really good at marketing, is it already really good at operations. An example of this, actually I did a deal where the operations of this business was really great, it was a spa. They just had an amazing manager. The lady that owned it, just did absolutely nothing with this business, and operations was really good. The way that I wanted to leverage that, was to pivot into basically buying other similar businesses and leveraging the staff that I had that was really incredible. I could go out after by that business and kind of pivot into buying business that had terrible operations, and maybe good marketing. Now we’ve got two of these businesses, so in that case, I ended up buying three businesses, looking for the deficiencies that we were able to get-[crosstalk 00:47:32]
Justin Cooke: I love that Ace. I love that so let’s see you’ve already got the staff and you look for kind of, high cost, high staff cost, businesses that have a lot of on shore, either or employees or contractors working in the U.S., like if you’ve got a team offshore, or you’ve got a team in a state that’s cheaper, already doing the work, and their capable of doing that work too, you could automatically drop costs, improve net profit and from day one, or at least day thirty have a business that’s worth more money than you paid for it, the same multiple. That’s definitely an interesting approach.
One that I like, think about this Ace, lets say you’ve got an eCommerce site, you’re selling a high value item, say that the sellers have put a lot of time into trying to get people to purchase that first time, and what you find out in the businesses, is that they don’t generally purchase the first time, and they have a really low conversion rate with this, a thousand dollar, $1500 dollar product, instead you focus conversions on, email opt-ins, because you know that the second or third time they come to the site if they’re going to purchase from you is generally going to be second, third, or fourth time they visit, so you change it, the call to action-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: For the first time around to be email opted, and you start a re-marketing campaign, for example. So I think changing kind of how you’re generating the leads and definitely the call to action on the site, can be a great way to Pivot as well.
Ace Chapman: I love it.
Justin Cooke: Cool man. One other thing ill mention, is adding personality. If you can buy a business, that is in an industry that’s stuffy, where all of the competition is kind of Stuffy, and a little serious, and you can add your own personality. You can get in there and kind of like mix things up, it’s a great way to separate yourself from the competition. People like to buy from other people, people they know, like, and trust.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: If you can put yourself in there and they can buy from you, instead of some nameless, faceless, corporation, I think that is a great pivot you can make on a business as well. Alright man, lets get into the last step, the Jam. How are you going to Jam out a purchase business Ace?
Ace Chapman: When it comes to growing a business everybody wants to get to the point where they are starting to scale. In any business, what scaling, looks like it’s going to be a little bit different. Sometimes, it’s just getting, really digging in. You realize that they really haven’t, kind of what we were talking about earlier, they haven’t sold as much as they could, to their current customers, and so I’ve definitely deals where all we focused on, I’ve doubled the size of business just focusing on their current customers and doing most people aren’t doing the basics. People want to get into a lot of complicated things, especially when it comes to Jam, it’s like, oh, I’m going to use the re-targeting of the Facebook, marketing and just really getting aggressive, and sometimes it can be simple things like just you’re not selling to the 1% of your current customers, who would pay six figures for your service, or a very high-end personalized product. Which may mean getting on the phone with them, or really building that connection. The first thing is, really when it comes to Jam, I think since you’re buying it’s a little bit, of a different mentality. As entrepreneurs, we’re always thinking grow, grow, grow. How do I get in front of more people, how do I go out and tell more people about our service-
Justin Cooke: How do I automate that?
Ace Chapman: Automate, yeah.
Justin Cooke: I don’t have to do anything, right. Yeah.
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Do the shit that doesn’t scale, Ace, right, do the things that no one else is willing to do. They’re not willing to put the time in, and you can figure out all the automation stuff later. Look at your highest value work, and do that work, the stuff that your competition doesn’t want to sit down for, a total of fifty or sixty hours, and really lay out and do the work. I love that. I was doing that a couple of weeks ago, I was doing some work that was boring as hell, Ace, it was boring as hell. Normally I would say this just sucks, but I sat that, giggling to myself thinking, I know other people aren’t doing this. I know in our industry aren’t doing this and this is why I’m going to beat them. This is my motivation … maybe it’s just motivation to keep doing this boring work. But like it got me-
Ace Chapman: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: Through thinking, this is the kind of work that other people aren’t doing that is going to help me crush it.
Ace Chapman: Absolutely. Love it.
Justin Cooke: Well man, it’s been a blast having you on this show. We could go on about this, buying businesses, and how to expand them all day. I really appreciate it. I’m going to, have to have you on again for sure, but in the meantime, if people want to check you out they can go to Acechapman.com. Where else do you hang out online man?
Ace Chapman: You can go to Ace@acechapman on twitter, I’m mostly on there, I don’t do … then on YouTube there’re some videos, if you want to learn more about some of the strategies for using for financing in that kind of thing.
Justin Cooke: Cool man. Well, we will link those up in the show notes, make sure you go to empireflippers.com/podcasts and check out this episode. Anyway man, it’s been a blast having you on. We’ll definitely have you on again. Thank you, so much for being on the show.
Ace Chapman: [inaudible 00:52:34]being her.
Justin Cooke: Alright, I hope you got a ton a value, out of our interview with Ace. Now lets get into our tips, tricks and plans for the future.
Announcer: You’re listening to The Empire Flippers podcast, with Justin and Joe.
Justin Cooke: Our tip for you this week is actually carve.ph. This is an outsourcing company based in Davao. We’ve met with Tom, we’ve seen their office, we’ve hung out with them a bit and they’ve got a great VA staff going on over there. Their growing, they’ve grown significantly, their up to like forty-something people, they work with, a bunch of internet marketers out of Australia generally, but there definitely looking to expand and I like their team. I kind of like the vibe they’ve got going on. They’ve got great company culture. They do really good stuff, really good work.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah I definitely think it’s great for that entry level sort of VA work.
Justin Cooke: You need like two VAs, or one and a half or something right?
Joe Magnotti: Yeah anything from content, to customer service, to ticket management, to process overviews, spread sheet stuff, data entry, internet research, that kind of stuff, the stuff that we are definitely not into anymore, we’ve been pushing those leads to Tommy and he’s been taking good care of them. If you guys want to check them out, Carve.ph. A great place to bring your entry, virtual assistant tasks to.
Justin Cooke: Alright that’s it for episode 89 of The Empire Flippers podcast, thanks for being with us, make sure to check us out next week and you can say hello on Twitter @empireflippers, see you next week.
Joe Magnotti: Bye-bye everybody.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to The Empire Flippers podcast, with Just and Joe. Be sure to hit up empireflippers.com for more. That’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.
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