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Make an Extra $424 per Hour by Selling Your Business

Sarah Nuttycombe Updated on September 29, 2020

Make an Extra $424 per Hour by Selling Your Business

There’s a good chance that you’re not making as much money as you could be right now. We have the data to prove it.

Most people frame their earning potential through the lens of how much money they make per hour at their jobs. Online entrepreneurs experience the same sense of maxing out their earnings when they see their net profit at the end of the month.

We’re excited to report there is so much more money to make, it just takes some opening up to new opportunities.

According to our data, the best way to maximize your earnings is to sell your business.

We examined more than a thousand businesses sold on our marketplace to see how much more money selling a business earned per hour for entrepreneurs based on their hours worked.

Turns out “selling out” isn’t always such a bad thing. Our sellers made anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to $7,000 extra per hour from the sale of their business.

Want to know who made the most for their hours worked? Read on to find out.

Why Would Anyone Sell Their Business?

Many people wonder why you would sell a profitable business when it’s mostly running itself. It’s a reasonable question, but it comes from a mindset that doesn’t see the whole picture.

Even if a business is running on its own, the owner bears the mental weight of worrying that that could change. They may also fear missing the prime window to sell their business while it is running well—a feeling sellers in trending niches know all too well. Alternatively, a seller may just be tired of the business. They may lack the passion they once had for it and want to move on to something else.

These concerns leave the entrepreneur with a conundrum: how do you get rid of a business without losing money?

The solution is to sell the business. This is easier to do in the online business industry than ever with quick business valuation tools and advanced marketplaces to sell on. It has become such a profitable option that buying and selling businesses regularly, better known as flipping, has become a common way for entrepreneurs to make a return on their investment (ROI) of well over 100%.

There are good reasons to sell other than ROI. A less talked about reason is that the business isn’t hitting the seller’s initial goals. This may be a problem of expectation versus reality. Perhaps the seller thought their Amazon Associates business would make $8,000 a month just nine months after being created. This can happen, but it’s rare. Failing to hit that goal can be discouraging even if the business is picking up speed and increasing in monthly income, which may prompt the entrepreneur to sell after a year, their eye already on the next big online opportunity.

To give another example, a seller may have been running their business successfully for years, perhaps a Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) business, but it has never reached the upper six-figure profit mark they were hoping for. They now have limited capital to deploy to reach that goal, and they can let go of their initial expectations. They may find their silver lining and a chance to reach their goal in selling their business.

By selling an online business, a seller can make 2.5–4 years of profit up front. That kind of cash in hand can help the seller reach their initial goals for the business, and it expedites the process of profiting from the business, without the uphill hustle to get there.

This may sound like a bunch of smoke to you. You may need to see the numbers to believe this is the case.

Doubters, grab a chair and get comfortable. Here’s the data to prove that selling is the way to make the most from your business.

Overview of the Data

We looked through 1,313 deals to calculate averages for this study. We selected deals from the entire lifetime of our marketplace in every form of monetization.

The data points we examined were:

  • Monetization
  • Date of creation
  • Date of sale
  • Hours worked per week
  • Sale price

These data points were used to develop formulas to calculate how much extra money the seller earned for the hours worked over the entire lifespan of their business through its sale.

These 1,313 deals provided a vast amount of data, so in certain cases we pulled smaller sample sizes to get more accurate averages.

For example, most businesses sold on our marketplace were less than 1,000 days old. Eight hundred and ten businesses fell into this category, so we treated this as a sample size to pull averages that reflected a majority of businesses in the data.

When I am working with a smaller sample size rather than all 1,313 deals, I will clarify what sample I am working with.

Clarifications About the Data Set

Let’s start with the most important clarification: we can base this article only on the numbers we have access to. We don’t know the backstories or caveats from each individual seller about their hours worked. Let me give you a few examples.

Some businesses have “old” creation dates entered into our database. Some of these businesses have actually been around that long, but it may also be the case that the domain on which the business is built was registered decades ago. When owners of such businesses say that they work three hours per week on the business, we don’t know if that has been consistent since the business went live. Have they really worked on the business for three hours per week for 20 years? Or was the business on autopilot during some years? Perhaps the business required full-time hours at another time. We don’t know for sure unless they’ve specified in their vetting submission information, so we’ve relied on what the data says.

This might pull down the data, making it seem like that person earned a lot less from their business per hour worked than they really did, but this helps to counteract the other unknowns in the data, such as whether people are telling the truth about their hours worked.

That is the next caveat in the data—we can’t be 100% sure that business owners are being truthful or realistic about their hours worked. This is not to say that people are stretching the truth maliciously but that many entrepreneurs may not accurately track the hours spent on their business over a several-year period.

Sellers may forget to report a season of intense work on the business, to address seasonality in sales or, conversely, they may not remember to mention an entire quarter during which they didn’t touch the business. When they submit their business for vetting, they come up with their best estimate of an average, and that’s all we have to work with.

It’s also worth noting that the average number of hours worked does not reflect the up-front hours spent launching a business. This is because by the time a business is ready to sell, it has been running well for years and has likely reached a state during which the seller can be passive. While the seller may spend an average of five hours a week on the business now, they may have poured 40 hours per week into the business for the first four months. In this case, their five-hour average would pull up the average money earned per hour, even if this does not tell me the whole story about the early days of the business.

All these caveats could positively or negatively impact the averages, but we believe they will cancel each other out, more or less. Without the opportunity to speak directly to a thousand sellers, we have to work with the data we have.

Regardless, all the money earned through the sales included in this data study is the icing on the cake. It’s the extra cash pocketed simply by putting the business up for sale. When you see these totals and remember these earnings are additional to what the business already earned over a number of years, you may just walk out of your office today and never come back.

With these caveats out of the way, let’s go over what the data shows us.

Breakdown of Data Averages

Remember, this is the data from 1,313 businesses sold on our marketplace across all our monetizations. Here are the averages:

  • Length of time for which the business was run: 1,099 days (roughly three years)
  • Sale price: $112,940.55
  • Hours worked: 3.7 per week
  • Earnings per hour for a sample of 1,313 businesses: $354
  • Earnings per hour for the sample of businesses less than 1,000 days old: $424

The initial averages across the data may be surprising at first glance.

For instance, with more than a thousand businesses, is the average hours worked per week really only 3.7? Seems far-fetched.

Most business owners who sell with us spend only a handful of hours per week maintaining their business: earning passive income is why people get into online businesses in the first place. In the data, 179 business owners reported zero hours worked, a plausible outcome for established sites that have run almost automatically for years. Because zero isn’t a convenient number for calculations, we bumped them all up to one hour of work, which had a minimal effect on the average outcome.

The seemingly low number of hours worked per week was balanced out by the businesses’ age. More than 200 businesses in the dataset were between three and 20 years old. Stretching the hours worked per week over such a long period resulted in a more feasible average earnings per hour of $354 across the 1,313 businesses.

The sample of 810 businesses, which includes the bulk of the businesses sold with us, earned an average of $424 per hour from the proceeds of their sale. Since this sample size represented a majority of our businesses, it’s why we chose to lead the data study title with $424 per hour.

All the hours that the owners spent on their business over the years now reaped hundreds more dollars on top of what they already earned while running the business.

To put things into perspective, if you earn $424 per hour based on the full-time hourly wage system you’d need a salary of $881,920 and you would have to work 40 hours per week to get it. Seeing that sellers have made that much by working a number of hours per week they could count on one hand, you might realize that selling your profitable business is the key to easy wealth.

If you’re still not impressed by the averages, you might feel a tinge of jealousy over the 10 highest earning businesses on our marketplace.

Breakdown of Highest Earning Businesses Per Hour

MonetizationsDays between creation and saleWeeks of ownershipHours worked per weekTotal hours worked Sale PriceMoney earned per hour worked
eCommerce, DropShipping2154.0030813082,200,0007,149.49
DropShipping, eCommerce395.0056156342,2746,065.63
Amazon Associates412.00591596325,0005,521.84
SaaS234.0033133180,0005,384.62
Amazon FBA435.0062162324,3765,219.85
Amazon FBA1428.0020424081,886,0004,622.55
Amazon Associates, Display Advertising232.0033133152,0004,586.21
Display Advertising985.0014122821,272,2744,520.77
Affiliate689.0098198425,0004,317.85
Affiliate291.0042142148,8423,580.39

One thing the entire world could agree upon is that they would like to make $7,149 per hour while working one hour per week.

It sounds impossible, but that is what our top earning business made when they sold on our marketplace. To show that the wildest dreams can come true, we pulled the data on the 10 businesses that earned the most money per hour from their sale.

The spread of the top 10 across monetizations is surprising yet inspiring. It shows that no one monetization is the true winner when it comes to lucrative, passive income. Most of these businesses were under five years old, and their secret to success was the minimal time spent maintaining the business.

You may be thinking, ‘There is no way these businesses ran with so few hours worked,’ but it’s possible.

Such a business might have been purchased when it was already profitable and then benefitted from unexpected sales or a boost from an algorithm update. Alternatively, with a team in place to handle operations and help scale the business, the seller could feasibly spend as little as one hour a week overseeing the business. Certain monetizations, such as SaaS and content-based businesses, lend themselves to minimal work once they’re up and running.

Even if the hours per week were slightly increased, the amount of money you can make by selling an online business after a few years of work is life changing. By turning their businesses into profitable exits, these entrepreneurs reaped thousands of dollars per hour. This turns the model of working full-time hours for a salary on its head and begs the question: is this really the way to make the most of our time spent working?

Clearly, it’s not.

Breakdown of Earnings by Monetizations

Being able to monetize an online business is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing for anyone hoping to maximize their online income because there are not many limits to tacking monetizations on to your business.

It’s a (minor) curse for us because businesses with such varied monetizations are tough to group together and calculate averages for.

That’s why we’ve pulled samples of the most popular monetizations from our data to produce a straightforward illustration of how much you can expect to make per hour when exiting from online business in your chosen monetization.

Content-Based Online Businesses

Our first sample size was of content-based businesses. The average pure (coming solely from one monetization) hourly earnings of Amazon Associates, display advertising, and affiliate businesses are laid out next to the total number of businesses examined. For example, a pool of 262 Amazon Associates businesses made an average of $341 per hour.

MonetizationAverage ($) per hourTotals
Amazon Associates341262
Display Advertising302199
Affiliate41591
Amazon Associates + Advertising28677
Associates + Affiliate42941
Mix (any combination of Amazon Associates + Display Advertising + Affiliate together or with other monetizations)318825

Seeing any trends?

The sample sizes here are small, but it looks like a website monetized purely by affiliate income is the winner for average money earned per hour through the sale of the business. Businesses with mixed monetization through Amazon Associates and affiliate income take a slight lead with $429 per hour, we’d say the larger sample size of 91 affiliate businesses is indicative of a leader.

This goes to show that adding monetizations within your content can produce more lucrative results. The beauty of content-based businesses is that there is little limit to scaling the asset, and they can be run hands-off for long periods of time. This makes earning hundreds of dollars per hour spent on the business all the more sweet.

Amazon FBA, eCommerce, and Dropshipping

Entrepreneurs flock to eCommerce-based businesses for their large returns. Here’s the average amount each monetization reaped for sellers on our marketplace:

Monetization Average ($) per hour Total # of businesses
Amazon FBA496202
eCommerce26720
Dropshipping14948
Amazon FBA + eCommerce50248
eCommerce + dropshipping69824
Mix (any combination of FBA, E-commerce, and dropshipping)440368

Throughout this subset of the data, all variations on eCommerce reaped high amounts of money per hour. Smart mixes, such as e-commerce and dropshipping or FBA and e-commerce, are proof that expanding how and where your business sells is profitable. Dropshipping alone, with its razor-thin profit margins, is expected to produce a lower return on time investment.

Although e-commerce-based businesses seem like riskier monetizations due to the challenges they pose in terms of inventory management and operations, once these businesses reach their stride, they can be run with minimal input from the seller and demand high sales prices on our marketplace. These numbers provide the peace of mind that venturing into the e-commerce world may be worth it despite the risk.

SaaS, Service, Amazon KDP, and Amazon Merch

In the final subset of data, we have smaller monetization groups, which still illustrate that being lesser known doesn’t mean lower pay.

Monetization Average ($) per hour Total # of businesses 
Saas62415
Amazon KDP31315
Amazon Merch35821
Service19618

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows about Software as a Service (SaaS) , it takes the strongest lead in this subset of data. This is because SaaS businesses are hands-off once they’re up and running and can demand a premium from buyers. It is the most sought after monetization because of the difficulty of building such businesses and their lucrative income generation. Even with a sample of only 15 businesses to represent this monetization, it is clear that selling a SaaS business generates an impressive amount of money.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Merch produced better money per hour than we originally expected. Both rely on the largest, most trusted marketplace on earth to sell their goods, so once the books are written for Amazon KDP and the designs are established for Amazon Merch, the products can sell themselves without constant oversight. Some of the most successful examples in this monetization have commanded seven-figure sales prices on our marketplace, so it’s understandable that their hourly rates would be competitive with those of other monetizations.

Service-based businesses are rare on our marketplace, and their small sample size seems to report smaller hourly return on investment. Since service-based businesses revolve around offering a service to an audience, they often demand more time, cutting down on the money a seller can make per hour when exiting their business. Still, at an average of almost $200 per hour, it’s hardly money to sniff at.

Selling is Key to Maximizing Your Hours Worked

Do you believe the data now? Or do you need more convincing?

If you’re already making millions of dollars from your job, you can ignore this study. You may feel happy putting in your 40 or more hours per week and getting handsomely paid.

But for many people, these numbers are intriguing and may bring excitement and hope. There is now empirical proof of a solution to maximize your time and money.

The data proves that owners who sold their businesses with us reaped even more money from their hours spent running their business through the sale. This extra income is additional to what the business already earned in its lifetime.

For those who don’t yet have an online business, this data is all the more reason to get started. Your hourly wage isn’t the most you could earn for your time and is nowhere near what an online business could earn you.

If you’re ready to cash out and make even more money from your online business, start the sales process here. Buck the hourly wage system—we can’t wait to see how much more money you make.

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