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The Top 10 Lessons from the Opportunity Podcast

Sarah Nuttycombe Updated on June 17, 2021

The Top 10 Lessons from the Opportunity Podcast

Hi everyone. Sarah here!

You may have seen me authoring blog content on the site, spoken with me on a seller interview, or been introduced to me via Empire Flippers’ newest series, The Opportunity Podcast.

In this podcast, my co-host Branden Schmidt and I interview buyers, Empire Flippers team members, and industry experts on their unique experiences and previously undiscovered growth opportunities they see in the industry. We also identify the live listings on our marketplace that best connect to the lessons learned in the show.

Making the podcast has been a great journey so far. In the process, we’ve been blown away by our interviewees’ experiences as entrepreneurs, the insights gained from developing their businesses, and their enthusiasm for online business ownership.

We’re only 10 episodes in, and we have already uncovered so much. To catch you up on what we’ve learned, we’re giving readers a 10-episode highlight reel. We’ve broken down each episode’s highlights, including the growth opportunities discussed and the best quotes, for easy review.

Remember, these are just the highlights—the podcast includes more golden nuggets we couldn’t fit into this article. Make sure to tune in via Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google, so you don’t miss any sage advice that could improve your business.

Without further ado, we’ll move on to your cheat sheet to acing online entrepreneurship.

Growth Opportunities are Available Everywhere—You Just Need to Know How to Tune into Them

In the first episode of the season, Branden and I set the tone and the aims for the show. After doing a year’s worth of seller interviews, and Branden interviewed countless buyers in his Return on Investment (ROI) data study, we realized the best teachers in online business were the sellers and buyers we spoke with every week.

The problem was that they had no platform on which to share their knowledge. And from there, a podcast was born.

We felt their most valuable insights were the kind of hidden growth opportunities you just don’t know about unless you network with many established entrepreneurs. Without a platform to share the wins and losses of everyday online entrepreneurs, their wise teachings would never reach the people who could benefit from them.

We hope that with The Opportunity Podcast, no growth potential will go unshared.

Episode Highlights:

  • Not only do you get to hear the “why” behind the show, you get to learn more about the hosts’ histories and their journey into online business.
  • Fun facts: Branden is a trained rescue swimmer, and I got my start with companies making exits through documentary filmmaking.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • The solution to your challenges is sometimes hidden in plain view. When you tune into this podcast, ask an experienced friend, or get active on forums, you learn that almost any issue your business has faced has been experienced by someone else. Search for a solution or openly ask for growth advice, and you’ll often find it readily available for you.

Seasonality Isn’t Scary When You Build Your Portfolio Right

Our episode 2 interview with content-based business acquirer Barry Deen showed us a different side to seasonality.

Seasonal dips and spikes are a dreaded reality for many online business owners. Depending on the niche, seasonality can be unavoidable. Barry owns a large portfolio of Amazon Associates businesses, and he knew that each site would have its ups and downs during the year. He flipped seasonal dread on its head by making seasonality work to his benefit. He’s created a season-proof portfolio strategy worth tuning in for.

Episode Highlights:

  • Small additions provided big results. When Barry added 15–20 additional articles, his monthly income grew from $2500 a month to $8200 a month. That growth helped create momentum in his portfolio.
  • Buying three or four websites can help you withstand external forces, such as algorithm updates or commission changes. Barry’s preferred portfolio setup is to hold four or five sites in the short term alongside one major flagship website.
  • Barry goes for growth, opting never to hold sites for too long. He says if you’re not going for ROI, then purchasing another website doesn’t make up for the other potential failures. His goal is always to offset the challenges.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Always have at least one website in season and diversify across categories to help overcome seasonality and keep your portfolio profitable year-round.
  • Hire a native speaker as a content writer to make copy pop; this really matters when building a writing team across content-based businesses.
  • When buying a business, look at its competitors and ask yourself whether you can do better than them before you buy. Assess whether you can be a top-three player in the niche before committing.


“Sometimes an extra $1–2K a month is just one Google ranking away.”

“For me, I’m not really too interested in being the next guy with six Lamborghinis in his garage. But if I can never have to commute, only work on things that I like and that I enjoy, make my own schedule, and have a comfortable living, all of those things really sound perfect. And they’re very achievable in my opinion. I’m actually surprised that more people don’t do this. I understand it seems risky, but once you are actually in the weeds of running the websites, building content, and hiring writers, it’s not that hard of a job to do.”

Being a One-Trick Pony Will Keep You from Building Your Content Empire

The online-business-world-famous Empire Flippers Director of Marketing Gregory Elfrink sat down with us in episode 3 to discuss how you can leverage content to build your online empire.

The topic of fear unexpectedly came up. The actions that keep people from true growth seem to stem from fear—such as the fear of reaching out to your audience for data to grow an email list. Typically, this fear stems from feeling like tactics could drive away or annoy an audience. Even being a “one-trick pony,” for example by focusing only on SEO, could keep entrepreneurs from bringing their businesses to their greatest heights.

Greg also lays out a roadmap for implementing a content strategy to build real connections with your audience and impress them with data-driven content.

Episode Highlights:

  • The essential component of a content business is to create an addressable audience; the goal is to create an audience to which to sell forever.
  • Don’t be afraid of your ability to scale your content or reach out to your email list—you have more to gain than to lose when it comes to your email list or other growth methods.
  • Most people try to be a one-trick pony, driving traffic to their site only through SEO or Facebook.
  • The following is a roadmap for growing an SaaS business through content: list your dream 100 clients, email them all, have content already in place that solves their problems, ask them for feedback on your SaaS products, and get feedback from your cold emails. Go with an ask where you don’t appear salesy. The content already in place solves a problem and piques their interest.
  • Sometimes it’s okay to write content that isn’t SEO driven but that serves the middle and bottom of your funnel.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Data-driven content has shown to convert best. But what do you do when you have no data? You create surveys for your audience and use the data obtained from the surveys to help produce the rest of your content.
  • Go to Reddit or Quora and look up your niche. Check what the posts are about to find what questions your content should answer.


“Marketing, to me, was another form of art—the power of what you can do with marketing and entrepreneurship is amazing. It can change your life completely; it changed my life completely.”

“There are always going to be new marketing tools. The most important thing a content marketer can do is not to get distracted by those tools; use them when they make sense, and always hone the core of your skill.”

“Content can be about storytelling, but if you are telling stories to an empty room, it doesn’t matter. Figure out a way to get into the rooms where people are.”

Access Your Future Audience during Due Diligence—If You Can’t, It’s a Red Flag

Caleb Page’s journey as an entrepreneur is rich in experience. In episode 4, he connects his real estate investments and brick-and-mortar business ownership with his entry into the world of SaaS.

Caleb’s career in SaaS acquisition wasn’t perfect. He realized once he owned a business that he had missed a red flag in his due diligence—that the seller did not provide him access to the user base. The inability to talk directly to users resulted in difficult payment portal issues down the line. To overcome this problem, Caleb had to lose half his base, go through three different payment providers, and restructure his business.

Caleb’s challenges with payment portals, access to his audience, and uncovering issues in due diligence are key lessons for SaaS buyers.

Episode Highlights:

  • Caleb discovered what can cause a subscriber base to ask for refunds (like not knowing that they were signed up for a service), which makes trust rate decrease, thus finding a payment portal to work with difficult. He explains how to foresee these issues in due diligence and how to overcome them if they do arise.
  • Caleb was not a “technical buyer”, and he explains how non-technical buyers can jump into SaaS with the help of the right team.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Consider rewriting your code base to make it scalable for your SaaS business.
  • Always get access to the customer base before buying—any aversion on the seller’s part to connecting you with the customer base is a red flag.


“The thing about buying a business with existing cash flow is you have a lot of cushion—it’s almost impossible to throw a bad party because you’ve got room to move.”

“There’s a term I use about standing up in the business. If you’re not willing to stand up in the business you’ve bought, if you’re not willing to say ‘Hey, I own this. This what I do,’ then there’s something that’s incongruent; we’re missing a step there. You have to get real with yourself and ask ‘Do I want to stand up in this business?’ And it’s going to be that way for the next three to five years after you make that offer.”

Going Smaller Is the Biggest Opportunity in SaaS

Silicon Valley native Kevin Bastoul argues in episode 5 that Silicon Valley isn’t as forward-thinking as everyone thinks it is.

Silicon Valley has now become entrenched in its ways, so the fast pace of online business brought Kevin to Empire Flippers. He connects his experience working for an SaaS startup with the growth of SaaS on our marketplace. Kevin identifies where SaaS is growing most quickly. Counter to the Silicon Valley norm, going for big SaaS startups doesn’t always guarantee the most growth.

Episode Highlights:

  • Going against location dependence keeps things fresh. Silicon Valley’s location actually works against it as things go remote and tech changes. Silicon Valley’s ways are set in stone, which keeps it in the past
  • Large SaaS startups don’t often have the same growth potential as the SaaS businesses on our marketplace.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Micro-SaaS that focuses on niche solutions is the greatest opportunity in SaaS at the moment.


“A benefit that SaaS has that we are starting to see recently is that, versus e-commerce or some of the other monetizations, in an environment like this where everything has gone remote . . . a fully digital business like SaaS is very resilient.”

Decline Teaches as Much as Growth in Entrepreneurship

Bill Szabrak describes himself as the “quintessential corporate cog,” yet his interview was full of enthusiasm and encouragement for new buyers. He describes his journey into first-time online entrepreneurship in episode 6. He made two content-based business acquisitions, which allowed him to experiment with online income and plot his escape from the corporate world.

Both his websites have seen ups and downs. Despite these challenges, he advocates for getting into the online space and believes that taking the leap to buy changed his life for the better.

Episode Highlights:

  • Bill feels that buying is a low-risk, safe investment. He argued people buy a website with more intentionality than some stocks.
  • His first month of ownership was spent getting to know the site. He saw that its content was out of date, and the site had too many plug-ins. He added content and improved his ads.
  • While one of his businesses has suffered from the pandemic, his other has soared.
  • When asked for advice for would-be buyers of a second business, he said, “How you’re running your business dictates whether you should buy a 2nd business. If you’re front and center of one of your websites or it’s very hands on, that might not be best for a second acquisition.”
  • Keeping his day job helped him buy a second business even though his goal is to eventually leave.
  • He’s learned as much as he can about his businesses and their niche, so he now knows when to put one site on autopilot to focus on another.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Get on the phone with your advertising provider to determine how to improve the existing ads on the site. With this trick, Bill saw sizable improvements in his ad performance.
  • Get to know your sites well, so you know how to prioritize your focus on businesses in your portfolio.


“It’s a lot of fun . . . I do have control over my income, if I work extra hours . . . I’ve seen that the more time I put into these sites, the more it benefits me financially. Being involved in website ownership and the entrepreneurial side of things, I’ve met a lot of interesting people and had a lot of invigorating conversation that doesn’t exist in corporate America very much. It’s a nice change; now I get to talk to people excited about what they do.”

“Growth and decline go hand and hand. People will say you learn more from your failures than your successes, and I do believe that’s true. But also, when you’re having growth, and when you have good times, be smart about it. The more you can figure out why something is growing, the better you can grow it.”

If You’re Not Questioning Your Operational Framework, You Won’t Improve

Our Director of Operations, Andy Allaway, makes the case that a good operational framework is one that is always under question.

In episode 7, he explains his belief that operational systems should be “strong processes, loosely held.” He relates this to the many iterations of Empire Flippers’ operations as the company has grown to keep them as efficient as possible.

He explores how to scale a company and team working remotely and explains the elements necessary to run your company to the best of your ability.

Episode Highlights:

  • The right operational framework empowers employees to make decisions correctly.
  • Cultural fit is an unexpected but very important part of running a company’s operations.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Ask people how they like to be managed—this gets right to what kind of management people respond to best.


“There are some additional things to consider when managing a remote team or scaling a remote company . . . I would really start thinking about this in the hiring process. Some people fit really naturally into remote work and some struggle without daily in-person interaction. I see quite often those people don’t even realize it themselves until they’re in the business. Anything you can tease out during the hiring process can save you some pain a bit further down the line.”

A Deal’s Greatest Asset May Be the Seller

Not everyone gets as lucky as Rick Baxter did with his buyer–seller relationship. At first glance, it didn’t even seem like the relationship would be successful.

In episode 8, he shares that he was new to online businesses and really wanted to buy from a seller willing to hold his hand in turning over the business. He found an FBA acquisition he liked, but its seller couldn’t speak English. He became worried, but the seller found a work-around. His English was better over text, and he agreed to coach Rick on FBA ownership. The seller even went as far as helping Rick launch a product, which would become one of his best sellers.

Rick’s business grew rapidly, and he went from being excited about making $500 in sales a day to making $4–5K in sales a day. As he surpasses $1 million in sales this year, his interview gives plenty of insight into how even newbies can replicate his success.

Episode Highlights:

  • He reaped full ROI ($60K FBA, home niche) in six months and was dumbfounded about it, “completely beside himself.”
  • Rick claims that failure is integral to business: when you give up after failing, that’s not a business, that’s a passion project.
  • He took his understanding of inventory management in brick-and-mortar businesses to pick the right inventory for the online business.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Do not get married to your product to allow for smarter product iteration. As Rick summed up, “Launch is the first rule. Don’t talk about it, don’t think about it, or analyze it to death. Launch.”


“I never had the luxury of having my hand held by a seller in the brick-and-mortar world.”

“Let the market decide what’s good.”

“You don’t know what a good job looks like until you’ve done it yourself.”

“If I can’t be number one or two in that world, I don’t want to get into those products. I want to be the top dog in a product line.”

“Whether it’s FBA or brick-and-mortar, starting a business from scratch is horrible. You have to care about and make decisions on every little thing . . . With buying a business, the smaller decisions have been made and there are less hang-ups”

“When you’re buying, you’re buying back a year or two of your life.”

The Market Can Change Overnight—Be Prepared for the New Big Buyers

In episode 9, we explore the new kind of buyer changing everything in online business: private equity (PE).

Alex Champagne, Director of Sales at Empire Flippers, details our journey from the early days of PE in this space to the rapid influx of PE buyers. He connects PE’s interest to growth opportunities on both the buy side and the sell side, a hot topic in many entrepreneurial circles. Alex also explains that this year has caused a tectonic shift in the market, one from which the world will never come back.

Episode Highlights:

  • In 2020, we’re talking to new funds every week, and now we are getting competition for $10M deals among players willing to pay list prices.
  • You can’t make a perfect business, but its weakness is PE’s opportunity, and that’s a great thing for your exit.
  • Prices and multiples favor PE’s buying interests.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • Sellers should maximize their strengths to get the most out of their business, drive the best sales price, and catch PE’s attention.


“The multiples on online businesses are going upward, but as of 2020, we firmly believe in comparison to traditional investments they are undervalued and serve as terrific investments.”

“We’ve seen a comparable growth rate in online business transactions in the last three months that we’ve experienced over the past 10 years. That’s an incredible growth spurt that is primarily focused around something no one predicted . . . the transition from traditional purchasing to online purchasing. It changed so quickly, and I don’t think we are going to see a shift back. It proves that the market can shift overnight.”

If You Understand Amazon Algorithms, You’re Prepared to Launch Other Amazon Businesses

In episode 10, our interviewee Henry Marcacci makes the case that inventory management can be fun . . . kind of like a video game.

While not everyone loves managing inventory the way Henry does, the way he’s combined his passion for writing indie KDP novels with his genuine enjoyment of stock management to become a successful FBA buyer should pique everyone’s interest. He says his experience as a KDP novelist gave him a base to understand Amazon’s algorithms for FBA, and his success proves that his hunch was well founded.

Episode Highlights:

  • Look for businesses with weaknesses or, as he calls them, “blessings in disguise.”
  • Develop a relationship with customers to solidify the FBA business.
  • When sales go up, be ready to take a risk by investing in more inventory.
  • Cutting the right SKUs is better for business. He started with 25 SKUs and reduced that to 15 cutting the low value SKUs to reduce his workload, so he could really focus on optimizing what he did have. That’s when his business grew.

Hidden Growth Opportunities:

  • His favorite kind of business to buy is one with inventory problems; businesses with a high margin on inventory allow room for error and the highest potential for growth.


“Try to look for a problem that indicates a blessing in disguise. For example, if you’re looking at inventory and inventory is running out, that means people want your product, and you’ve just got to get it to them—and that’s a great problem to have.”

“You always want to move away from the herd. If everyone’s doing something, that means it’s oversaturated. That means there’s going to be bigger players in that area and you can get stomped out . . . you have to figure out a way to stand out.”

“Realize what makes you pop on the store and drive that point home in your advertising. That’s when I saw the business start to take off.”

“Now that I’ve seen explosive growth, I want to see if I can replicate it.”

Now Go Take Your Own Notes

This cheat sheet is all done. We hope you’ve gained some nuggets of wisdom from this highlight reel.

Of course, your ears will be keen to pick up on advice that relates to you and your business so your best way to learn is to tune into future episodes of the show.

Make sure to take notes, and drop us a line if you have any questions or would like to see a particular topic discussed. Also, make sure to leave a review if you love what you’re hearing so that others can find the show as well.

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