How to Hire the Best VAs: 5 Tips For Success

How to Hire the Best VAs: 5 Tips For Success

A VA should be one of the first hires you make as an entrepreneur, and is one of the most important. A motivated, skilled VA can take many of the most time-intensive tasks off your hands, and let you focus on the strategic direction of your business.

Hiring a VA can be a little tricky, however, particularly for entrepreneurs who are inexperienced when it comes to managing the recruitment process. In this guide, we’ll give you a simple process for making sure that you get it right first time.

Do You Need a VA?

First, though, let’s take a more detailed look at whether you need a VA. Spoiler alert: you probably do.

Image: MyTasker.com

If you’ve built your business yourself, it can be difficult to pass over responsibility for key tasks to someone else. The truth, though, is that you are probably doing a lot of tasks that you don’t need to be doing. Whether you are trying to leverage video marketing, or increase your Twitter following, you need to be aware that every task you do has an effective dollar value.

And if you are spending your time on tasks that are of low value to your business, your income is never going to rise.

The first step in hiring a VA is therefore to work out the actual dollar value of all of the tasks you do. Then you can take the lowest-paid tasks, and delegate them to your VA. This approach will also mean that you are sure to see an ROI for your new hire, because you know the exact value of the work they are doing.

Hiring a VA: The Five Steps To Success

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, there are five steps to making sure you hire the best VA possible.

1. Document The Tasks You Want to Outsource

Once you’ve completed your audit of the tasks you do, you should have a really good idea of which tasks you are going to pass on to your new VA. This list of tasks forms the basis for the hiring process, so make sure that you spend the time to make it comprehensive.

From this list, you can then produce training materials to show your new VA how to complete their tasks, and create a handbook of Standard Operating Procedures (SOIs) for these tasks. To learn how to write effective Standard Operating Procedures, check out this guide.

2. Create a Detailed Job Description

From your task list, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the level of education you are looking for in a VA, and the specific skills they will require. Of particular importance is that they already know how to use all of the systems you use in your business.

You can then work up a Job Description for the VA role. This should include:

  • Background information about your business (your industry, what you sell, and who your clients/customers are)
  • Level of education, experience, and/or skills required
  • List of duties and responsibilities
  • List of any apps, tools, or software they will be using

The more detailed you can be in the job description, the better. Not only does this help you find the right VA for the job, but it also crystallizes your thinking – forcing you to ask, “Who or what, exactly, will this position require??

3. Advertise

The next step is to advertise your role. Though some entrepreneurs like to post jobs on Craigslist, in reality it pays to advertise your position as widely as possible. That way, you can be assured that the best qualified candidates will see it.

There are some sites that are used specifically to hire VAs, and they are a great place to start:

4. Schedule Interviews

Webinar, Conferencing, Video, Beverage, Call, Cam, ChatImage: Pixabay

Now we get to the most difficult part of any hiring process: finding the best candidate. After you’ve reviewed the applications you receive, you should immediately have a good idea of the 5 – 10 most qualified candidates for the role.

Schedule interviews with these candidates. Video calls are great for this, because you can quickly find out how easy it is to communicate with your candidates, and what it will be like to work with them.

You should definitely ask about their work experience and skills, but don’t stop there. It’s also important to ask candidates about their hobbies, how they like to work, and their values.

Conflicting values can quickly become a source of friction in a relationship, particularly when it comes to the value of security and privacy. As Will Ellis, Director of Research at security advocacy group Privacy Australia points out, “you need to ensure that all of your staff take your business as seriously as you do.”

With growing concerns over cybersecurity and data privacy, every VA you hire is a potential point of attack for would-be hackers through social engineering attacks. When conducting interviews, it’s important to filter out any candidates that have a cavalier attitude towards their own privacy, because they would carry that behavior into your business as well.

5. Trial Periods

Once you’ve identified the top candidate, you should hire them on a trial basis to begin with. Even if you are hiring them with the expectation that they will work with you for years, regular goal setting and performance management is the key to any successful business relationship.

This trial period can last for anything from one month to six months, and provides a chance for you to work out any issues with your new VA before you commit to a longer relationship. You should formalize this trial period in the contract you sign with your new VA, but also make the way that you will assess them open and transparent.

The Future

If you’ve followed these steps, you should be well on your way to having a great VA by your side. However, if the selection of real-life humans seems like simply too much for you right now, you should also have a look at AI Virtual Assistants: whilst AI solutions are not (yet) quite as good as humans, it might be that in a few years everyone has an AI assistant as well.

For now, though, hiring a VA is one of the most cost-effective decisions any entrepreneur can make. As long, that is, as they hire the right person.

 

Dan Fries is a freelance writer and full stack Rust developer. He looks for convergence in technology trends, with specific interests in cybersecurity, micro mobility, and smart cities. Dan enjoys snowboarding and is based in Hong Kong with his pet beagle, Teddy. His website is danfries.net.
Buy and Sell Websites – I Spent $35,700 on Sites – What Did I Learn?

Buy and Sell Websites – I Spent $35,700 on Sites – What Did I Learn?

Authour bio: Stacy Caprio

Stacy is an entrepreneur who has bought and sold several profitable websites, and learned a lot of lessons along the way. Her background is in online marketing and one of her favorite things in the world is helping websites and companies grow.


 

I was trapped.Or at least I felt trapped. Anxious. Smothered.

Sitting in a spacious white cubicle, in a beautiful office complex, inside a building filled with free coffee and tea, sunlight streaming in nearby windows and friendly coworkers stopping by to chat.

I may have looked free to any onlooker, but inside I knew the truth.

There was an invisible chain hooking me to my cubicle, 5 days a week, 8:30am to 5:30pm, and it didn’t matter how much value I provided, or how much work I did, all that mattered was that I sit in my chair during that entire time every day, every week, and every year.

If I did not stay seated that entire time, I would not have any money to live on.

I could not even walk outside, other than on my lunch break, without attracting unwanted attention.

All I could think about was how to break free, but nothing I tried was working.

One of my favorite past-times was, and still is, reading income-report blogs and how other people make money online. One day I was reading a blog post about website investing, and it clicked.

I thought, why not?

I had already tried to start several sites on my own but none were making any money. I wanted to try buying one that was already working and then build on it.

My thought process was, let’s give it a try and see if we can build on an already successful and profitable site and learn to make an income like all my favorite online bloggers are already doing.

I’ll take you through the lessons I’ve learned from buying 4 sites for a total of $35,700, all purchased through Flippa.

My current working view, in large part thanks to Flippa, I’m no longer inside of a fluorescently-lit cubicle, instead able to work outside on my balcony in the heart of Chicago.

 

Lessons Learned From Buying Websites 

 

Good judgment and experience can come from making mistakes yourself, which I have done, and is where my experience comes from.

It can also come from reading about other’s mistakes, and avoiding them, and then reading about other’s successes, and emulating them.

My hope is that you can learn from my failures, but also my successes, in website buying and selling.

 

Avoid my Mistakes: How I Lost Money Buying Sites

 

1. Never trust data unless you verify it

 

I had just bought my first site and I was more excited than I could remember since Christmas morning when I was a little kid.

The seller had listed the site as making $350/ month, and I had paid him only $1,300 for it.

Of course, it was too good to be true.

If a site is really making $350/month, no one in their right mind would ever sell it for only $1,300, so that should have been red flag number one for me right there.

At a minimum, a site making $350 profit a month would be going for 20X $350, around $7,000 or more, depending on what the site owner was looking for.

The mistake I made buying this site was not only ignoring the price red flag, but going into the deal with blind faith and trust without even attempting to verify any analytics or revenue. 

 

Flippa has a great Google Analytics traffic verification feature and a great Google Adsense revenue verification feature, and after that first purchase, I now never even consider a looking at a site unless the seller has enabled both forms of Flippa verification.

Additionally, I now always request access to the site’s Google Analytics as well as proof of income including video screenshares and income screenshots.

I also use something I call the common sense test.

In the common sense test I combine Google Analytics, average RPMs and conversion rates to determine what the income numbers should be if the site owner is telling the truth. Then I compare the common sense estimates to the numbers the site owner provides and see if they are in the same ballpark.

Learn from my blind trust mistake and always verify traffic and revenue before purchasing a site.

Not everyone is an honest fairy God-mother and some people will try to cheat you out of your money.

 

2. Don’t buy out of desperation

 

When I was ready to buy my second website, I was desperate for another income stream.

My life may have looked nice and comfortable from the outside, but I was anxious and desperate to start having more freedom.

This desperation led me to spend a lot of money on my second site.

I had a lot of confidence because I had verified the site’s revenue, the lesson I learned from failed site purchase #1.

My newfound revenue-verification confidence combined with my desperation lead me to spend a lot of money, $10K, on a high-revenue site without really thinking about if the business model was sustainable.

The first few months were amazing and I was even able to more than double the monthly revenue. I was ecstatic, to say the least.

My happiness was short-lived.

The site traffic plummeted when the “fad-site” I had bought turned out to be a short term trend based on an app, something I could easily have spotted if I had been buying out of a calm, measured mindset instead of my overly confident and desperate mindset, possibly the worst mindset to make any decision in life with.

Learn from my lesson and never buy out of desperation. Or worse, desperation combined with over-confidence.

 

Copy My Successes: How I Made Money Buying Sites

 

3. Test Ad Networks & Make Partnerships

 

My third site was my first success. You didn’t think I’d give up after two expensive failures, did you?

I bought it for less than what I’d paid for site #2, because I was still wary that anything could happen.

It was a great deal I found on Flippa with a price of only 20X the monthly profit.

Quickly I was able to test different ad networks and monetization methods until I found ones that were making around double the original.

Then an ad network rep reached out to me and wanted to advertise on the site for a flat monthly fee that was more than double what I had already doubled the site to, so of course I accepted.

For the next few months revenue was 4X what I had bought the site for, since I was still running the better ad network and had an ad partnership that was paying me a flat fee monthly.

This had worked out better than I could have ever imagined, and I made back what I had paid within 10 months, and was making pure profit each month after that.

 

4. Keep going when you find something that works

 

My fourth site I used all the principles I learned from my previous mistakes and successes.

I verified the analytics and revenue before buying.

I was not completely desperate, not overly-confident, and used as much common sense as I could, all keys to making a well-informed and level-headed purchase.

I used the ad networks I knew already worked and leveraged my ad partnerships.

Using these approaches, I was able to buy a second successful site, my fourth website purchase total, from Flippa, and build on its success.

This site I also made back the purchase price within 10 months and have been able to grow revenue substantially since then.

The key on my fourth site was buying an online site that was already successful and that I could build on by producing more content.

I worked with adding to what it already had and was able to grow the revenue that way.

The lesson to learn here is you don’t have to start from scratch if you’re looking to own a profitable business or website. You can buy something that is already working and then build on it.

Even more important, once you find something that is already working, run with it and help it grow. To do this, you can produce more content and help it grow in the direction it is already growing successfully to increase profit and revenue over the long-term.  

Hopefully this website buying and selling article helps you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve personally made as well as helps you emulate some of the successes I’ve also been able to have.

 

I am forever grateful to Flippa for being the catalyst that helped me transition from being the girl at the beginning of this article who felt trapped and chained in her cubicle, to the girl I am now, living in my dream apartment overlooking the bean and Lake Michigan in Chicago, with the freedom to set my own hours and run outside by the lake any time of any day without feeling even a little bit guilty.

Let us know your own website buying and selling mistakes and successes in the comments below.

How to leverage video marketing to grow your business

How to leverage video marketing to grow your business

Author bio – Lilach Bullock

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24 and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business


 

Content marketing has undoubtedly become one of the absolute best forms of branding and growing a business. But content marketing can mean a lot of things: business blogging, social media, email marketing and so many different forms of content, from a simple written blog post to social media images and to videos.

And the biggest form of content marketing at the moment is…drumroll, please: video marketing!

A good video marketing strategy will help you grow your business and generate better results overall from your marketing, whether we’re talking social media, your blog or website or any other platform you might be using to promote your (new) business.

In this blog post, I’m going to share what you need to know in order to leverage video marketing to grow your business.

 

Why you need to incorporate video in your marketing strategy

Before I get into how to leverage video marketing and how to develop a strategy – as well as how to create engaging videos for your business – I first want to talk about why it’s so important to start leveraging video marketing, whether you’ve just bought a new business or thinking of selling your existing business later on.

But the fact is, there are a lot of reasons and statistics why video marketing is so important right now – it would take a while to go through them all.

Like how by the end of this year, video is expected to account for about 80% of all consumer Internet traffic.

Or how there are over 500 million people watching videos via Facebook every day.

Not to mention, social media videos generate 12 times the shares of text and image updates combined.

There are numerous statistics, all suggesting the same thing: people love watching videos online.

And if your business isn’t putting out the content that audience want to see – i.e. videos – you’re likely to struggle getting the results you need from your digital marketing strategies.

Even if you’re already thinking of the time when you’re going to be exiting the business, it’s important to maintain business health through great content, particularly video.

Not to mention, as video tends to generate much higher engagement than other forms of content, that means it will help you drive steady streams of traffic to your website, as well as higher conversion rates – and any prospective buyers interested in your business will definitely want to look at your traffic analysis when they’re carrying out their due diligence.

So whether you want to brand or grow a business you just bought or boost up the numbers for a business you’re planning to sell, start leveraging video marketing now.

Here’s how:

 

Establish your video marketing goals

Depending on whether you’re planning to sell or you just bought your business, your video marketing will likely differ.

That said, there are several big marketing goals you can reach with the help of video:

  • Build your brand and improve brand awareness
  • Build trust in your brand and showcase your value to consumers
  • Generate more social media engagement
  • Increase your website traffic
  • Generate more leads and conversions
  • Generate more sales

At this stage, consider your overall business/marketing objectives to help you choose the right video marketing goals; for example, if you’ve just bought a business and you need to start branding it, then leverage video to help you build up brand awareness and help establish your branding.

Or, if you want to sell your business, then it might be worth focusing your attention on boosting social media engagement and particularly, your traffic.

Whatever your end goals are, videos can help you achieve them more efficiently – if you know how to leverage them.

 

Where will you be publishing your videos?

Now you know what you want to achieve, so the next question is, what platforms will you be using to share your video content?

Make a list of where you are planning to use video marketing to boost your results:

  • On social media, to generate more traffic and engagement
  • On your blog and your website, to generate more traffic and leads/conversions
  • On your landing pages, to boost your conversion rate
  • In your email marketing campaigns, to generate higher open rates and more click-throughs
  • On YouTube, to reach a wider audience and boost views

When picking your channels, remember to consider your marketing objectives, as well as your resources; thankfully, you can easily optimize videos for multiple channels leveraging video creation and editing tools – but I’ll get to that in a bit.

 

Coming up with your video marketing calendar: video ideas for business

You know your objectives and you know where you’re planning to post your videos. But what kinds of videos can you actually create?

Here are some great ideas that you can use to create varied videos, depending on what your marketing objectives are:

  • Brand videos: if you want to boost brand awareness and/or build up your brand, you can leverage videos to put your brand in the spotlight. For example, you can create behind the scenes videos that show off your team in action, or behind the scenes images from your events
  • Product videos: another route you can take is to promote your products through videos and use these videos on your website, as well as social media and other marketing channels to help boost your sales. For example, showcase specific features of your product, the value it can bring to your target audience, or, like GoPro, show your products in action:

 

  • Tutorial videos: another way to highlight your products and boost sales is to create tutorial videos showcasing how people can use your products or how they can use specific features
  • Educational/how-to videos: people love content that provides them with some sort of value. So, just like you would create a How to Guide for your business blog, you can come up with similar ideas for videos that show viewers how to do something – ideally, something your business or your product can also help with. For example, here’s this video from Gillette which offers tips on how to shave sensitive skin – not only something that is highly relevant to their target audience, but also something that their products can help with:

 

  • Listicle videos: listicles are popular in all formats, including video. Make sure they offer some kind of value to your audience, just like with How-to videos earlier and that they are highly relevant to your industry
  • Live streaming videos: live streaming videos are very popular right now; ideally, if you plan to leverage live streaming, create a regular schedule so that your audience knows when to log in to see your stream
  • User-generated-content videos: one of the best ways to engage your audience and build trust at the same time is to leverage user generated content (as made popular particularly by Instagram!). For example, like Rockstar Games highlight user generated videos on their YouTube channel:

 

  • Testimonials: another great way to build trust in your brand with video is to create some testimonial videos and/or case studies with current and past customers

Most of the videos in this list can be leveraged on pretty much any channel, with some small differences; your videos will of course need to be optimized for each channel, and it’s important to remember that on some platforms, it’s best to keep things short and sweet – particularly social media and via email marketing.

 

Creating your videos: useful tips and tools

There are 2 main options for creating your videos:

  • Either film your own videos and edit them
  • Or use a content creation tool to create a video from scratch, using stock footage

Or, of course, a combination of both.

 

How to create videos without having to pick up a camera

This is one of the things that scare off businesses from getting started with video marketing: hiring someone to create videos for your brand constantly can get expensive, but at the same time, you might not have the knowledge or resources in-house to consistently film marketing videos.

So what can you do?

There are actually numerous tools available that allow you to create and edit videos very easily, even if you don’t actually have any videos of your own or any editing experience. These types of tools have video templates that you can use, as well as large and varied libraries of stock video clips.

For example, you can use a tool like Wave.video – a video creation and video editing tool that was created specifically for marketers and businesses; it has over 200 million stock video clips and images (although you can upload your own video clips too), as well as numerous templates for all kids of industries and occasions. Plus, it’s also worth mentioning that you can instantly resize your videos to over 30 different popular formats; meaning, you can easily publish your video across channels.

As for the actual editing, it’s all very straightforward, especially if you’ve already selected a template:

 

You can change video clips and images, add new ones from their (or your) library, add text overlay in your brand fonts, create different effects and watermark your videos. Plus, you can add music from their library or record yourself as a voiceover for the video.

Another similar tool is Biteable, a video maker created for marketers and businesses; as before, you have access to over 85,000 Shutterstock video clips and images and a great selection of templates to help get you started:

 

As for the video builder, it’s super easy to use; add text overlay to each scene, change the video clips and imagery you use in your scenes, change the colours in your video to suit your branding and add music to your video from their library or upload your own.

 

Useful tips for creating videos you’re filming yourself

If you want to film some – or even all – of your videos yourself, in house, you’ll most likely need to invest in a few things: microphones for making sure the sound is very clear, a camera (unless you’re doing videos exclusively for social media where you can pull off videos that were shot on your phone, you need to invest in a better camera), a tripod for making sure your shot is stable and not wobbly (both for smartphone and a “regular” camera) and, of course, great lighting.

Another important tool you’ll need is video editing software to help put together your clips into the video you wanted; you can use tools like the previously mentioned Wave.video as well, or you can get an editing tool like Filmora, which you can use to edit your videos from top to bottom: add titles an text overlays to your scenes, improve your video’s sound, layer different video clips and improve the actual aspect/aesthetic of your video.

You’ll need to spend some time getting the hang of it and watching some tutorials if you don’t have the experience and knowledge, but it can definitely turn your videos from great to amazing.

 

Conclusion

Video can make a great asset for your business, whatever your business goals are. If you’ve just bought a new business, video marketing will help you build the brand you want to build, as well as help you reach a wider audience and grow your traffic. If you want to sell your business, then it can help you boost your overall marketing results so that you can showcase the success of your business – and demonstrate why it’s a great option.

Follow the tips outlined in this article, and you’ll start churning out awesome videos in no time.

 

 

 

Working through the due diligence process

Working through the due diligence process

Buying an online business is exciting. So exciting that it’s easy to get carried away and risk buying unwisely. The good news is that it’s easy to avoid that pitfall.

When you’re buying an online business, everyone advises you to ‘do the due diligence’. Of course you must, that’s obvious, but exactly how do you do it with an online business acquisition? Unlike real estate or bricks and mortar retail and service businesses, there’s usually very little property, equipment or inventory being acquired with the purchase. You are assessing predominantly non-physical assets – but that doesn’t mean they are too intangible to inspect, assess and value.

Depending on the complexity of the business and the size of the purchase transaction, this stage is likely to take at least two weeks and will probably be the longest part of the overall sale process. Patience and staying grounded in this phase will really pay off in the long run, and if you decide to go ahead with your acquisition then you can do so with the fullest confidence.

Where due diligence fits in

Due diligence is different from the buyer’s initial consideration of the business as an appealing target for acquisition, no matter how carefully that has been done. It is a thorough and methodical analysis.

The due diligence phase commences once you have made a purchase offer in a formal letter of interest and the offer has been accepted in principle by the seller. There will probably be some mutually agreed variations written into the final specific details of the sale contract as a result of what is discovered in the due diligence probing by the buyer.

This is unlikely to be because of any deceptive claims by the business owner. Rather, the buyer may discover some impediment to the transfer of software licensing, other third-party arrangements or credit card processing arrangements, just for example, which need to be addressed in the final Agreement.

Remember that before gaining access to all the details of the business financials and operational systems, including all the external agreements in place and the level of owner expertise and time needing to be invested on a continuing basis, the buyer will need to have paid a substantial deposit or even full settlement amount, as negotiated, which is refundable and held securely in escrow. This is because otherwise some parties claiming to be authentic prospective buyers are merely attempting to gain access to the business financials and processes.

So, now at this stage it’s time to work quickly and efficiently, but still highly systematically, through the due diligence process. Discussed below are the key aspects to consider.

Take qualified advice

If you have lots of experience in the area it will all seem straight-forward and intuitive. On the other hand if this is one of your first acquisitions, overall or in the particular niche, gain the assistance of a more experienced guide who can lead you through the more technical aspects. If this is a trusted colleague then that’s ideal. However, the services of paid buyers’ advocates/consultants are readily available and not all that expensive. Ensure that anyone guiding your due diligence and the decisions based on it have no vested interest in the sale going through. Be wary of advice from brokers who, no matter how ethical, have a vested interest in promoting the value of the business.

Traffic analysis

The seller’s claimed traffic statistics need to be verified. Genuine sellers will readily cooperate in providing access to Google Analytics (or equivalent) over the long term so that the buyer can ascertain how many visitors the site has, how long they stay, what they view and whether they generally view multiple pages. If they stay for a low duration (under one minute) then it may indicate that the content quality or the UX is low. If visitors generally traverse multiple pages then the content quality and the UX is indicated to be high. Check the conversion rates for whatever monetization strategies are in place, and most importantly look for any emerging trends. Cross-check the financials with the traffic. How much revenue is each unique visitor generating on average? Does this outcome correlate with what the business model predicates?

Be alert to the possibility of any paid traffic or sponsored links driving traffic to the business. That is not inherently bad, of course, but it is an expensive strategy and a significant problem if the expense has not been disclosed by the seller. Over-reliance on unsustainable traffic sources is actually the most common single concern encountered by new owners acquiring online businesses.

Financial records

Assessing the audited accounts of income and expenses for as long into the past as possible is essential. Ensure there are no hidden expenses, such as software licenses or other licensing and registration fees. Ascertain the investment of the current owner’s time and expertise and put a dollar amount on this if the owner is not being financially recorded as an ‘employee’ cost. Be highly alert to the costs of all outsourced work such as content writing and website maintenance and ensure these are being fully disclosed. Don’t rely only on previous years’ financial records. Be vigilant about what the income and expenses are right now. Look for any indications of plateauing or even downturn.

Get to know the seller

Your due diligence process can be a dream if you establish a good business relationship with the current owner. That doesn’t mean it will be a nightmare if you don’t, but certainly your due diligence won’t yield all the positive information that it potentially could.

In online business purchases it remains fairly unusual for the buyer to meet the seller or the seller’s agent in person; after all they may well be located worlds apart. However, it is good practice to establish the seller’s business profile, history and reputation. While somewhat subjective, using social media platforms such as LinkedIn provides a valuable means of background checking.  

An authentic seller will be confident in the business and will have genuine reasons for wanting to sell the business at the present time. The current owner will have a clear sense of how the business is performing and, just as importantly, trending. Additionally the vendor may well have ideas for the next stage development of the business which would be useful to the purchaser, even if the buyer decides not to follow that particular growth strategy pathway.

Sellers should always be open to detailed questions from a prospective buyer as a result of the due diligence process. It is sound, and increasingly common, practice for the seller or the seller’s agent to agree to a conference call discussion with the buyer, to respond to questions or concerns raised by the due diligence. It also enables alignment of the buyer’s and seller’s expectations of the transfer. No reasonable seller expects a buyer to part with hard-earned money just on the basis of the buyer’s enthusiasm and blind faith.   

Technical and other asset issues

Successful online businesses all rest on relatively sophisticated technical operations, with not only base platforms but also plugins and extensions. It is essential to audit these and ensure that every element of the platform has been paid for or licensed, and that these are to be transferred with the business. SaaS and software businesses, as well as e-Commerce sites, will be reliant on source codes and it is important to confirm that they are clean and also modifiable for the future.   

Other assets which must be transferred include all domain names, subscription lists, customer records, product images and all third-party contract and communication details.

Owner’s operational commitment

What time and effort commitment is being invested by the current owner and what is the cost value of this? The seller should be open and specific about the details of this investment. Is this within the buyer’s capacity of expertise and time availability to sustain, and if outsourced what will it cost?

Legal aspects

Obviously, it is essential to check that the seller legitimately owns the business, its domain names and the assets being transferred, including all third-party agreements. It is unlikely that a site which is legal and unrestricted in its source territory will be illegal or prohibitively restricted in other territories which the buyer considers targets for growth. However, it is always possible and should be checked.

After the due diligence period and before committing to the final Agreement to purchase, it is important that the purchase contract be checked by a qualified legal practitioner with particular experience in the online business environment.

It is important to ensure that the seller has entered into a non-compete agreement for a specified period of time, and that this agreement is enforceable.  

Final considerations

It’s vital to be ultra-careful that all trademarks, propriety branding and any third-party brand licensing agreements are fully transferring with the business acquisition. Ensure there are no undisclosed debts or unpaid liabilities of any kind. In this regard double-check that you have an overview of the refunds policy and the potential liabilities arising from customer claims and returns once you have assumed ownership.

It is always wise to build into the sale contract a holdback provision. This allows the buyer to retain a percentage of the final sale price, usually 10 to 20 percent, for 30 to 60 days after the transfer. The advantage of this is that unanticipated delayed costs which were not incurred by the new owner can be debited against the final payment. Additionally, the seller will be motivated to assist in the ironing out of any issues in the transition which could not reasonably have been anticipated by the buyer on the information available.

Provided the final payout funds are securely lodged in escrow, a reasonable and ethical seller is unlikely to resist this provision as part of the purchase agreement.

There can never be a 100% guarantee against an unfortunate purchase. However, following these clear due diligence steps will provide very strong protection against disappointment and any possibility of falling victim to deception.

Get started with Amazon FBA by buying a ready made store

Get started with Amazon FBA by buying a ready made store

In the world of e-commerce, one company reigns supreme: Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer is the most popular online marketplace for consumers to find just about everything. However, Amazon’s success isn’t down to only itself, but the many 3rd party sellers who use the marketplace to sell their own products.

Many of these 3rd party sellers use the Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) service in order to capitalize on the Amazon customer base and distribution network. Amazon FBA makes it easy to manage an online store on the platform. While setting up an FBA store is a simple way to get into e-commerce, the beginning stages are always the hardest. For that reason, many entrepreneurs are interested in buying an Amazon FBA store.

Setting Up FBA

To set up an FBA store the first step is to create a seller account. Once you have a seller account you can start sourcing products to sell on your store. You can connect with suppliers to buy your product from and get it private labeled with your own brand. Once you have your product manufactured and branded to your liking then you can send it to the Amazon FBA warehouse and Amazon will ship your product to anyone that purchases it from your product page on the Amazon website.

Why You Should Consider Buying an Amazon FBA Store

FBA makes owning and running an e-commerce store easy. However, there are some upfront costs which can be high if you don’t have a good product. This is why many entrepreneurs choose to buy an FBA store instead.

Easier Start

The hardest part of running an FBA business is finding and sourcing a profitable product. Buying an FBA store removes this problem as the seller has already done the groundwork of sourcing an initial product and selling it on Amazon. For someone just starting out with FBA, this is a great way to learn the platform without wasting money on products that turn out to be busts.

Focus on Expanding

With the initial groundwork of sourcing a product, supplier and getting everything into the FBA store already done then you only need to focus on maintaining those established channels. With some steady profits already available then you can focus on expanding the store by enhancing marketing, launching a website, and adding additional products among other things.

Once you’ve decided that you wish to buy an established store then the best place to go would be Flippa.com. Flippa makes buying an FBA store a simple process. You can browse through their collection of FBA stores where you can analyze store niche, profit margins and sale price. Once you’ve identified a store that you wish the purchase, the customer service team at Flippa is available to help with the process and answer any questions.

If you’ve always wanted to get into e-commerce or FBA but were unsure about what you needed then now is the perfect time to buy an FBA store through Flippa.

Due diligence checklist

Due diligence checklist

Revenue, Cost, Profit Claims

Flippa can only verify the numbers claimed and request that all sellers add proof of revenue for all businesses generating a profit. 

Websites / Apps:
Read-only access or video walkthrough of revenue analytics, Admob, or eCommerce reports. Always ask for any analytics that may be associated with the account.

FBA:
Amazon Seller central video walkthrough or read-only access. Make sure to get proof of stock costs and shipping costs from the manufacturer. Look at every line item in the P&L and request for proof.

 

Verifying Ownership

Flippa verifies ownership of the main asset. However, if the listing has multiple assets we recommend that a full verification is done by the buyers.

Websites / Apps:
You can request read-only access to any analytics on the site or for other proof from the seller to verify ownership of the asset.

FBA:
Amazon Seller central video walkthrough or read-only access.

 

Monetization

Many online businesses will have more than one revenue source, so it is important to fully understand how the business is monetized.

Websites / Apps / FBA:
It is important to identify all the monetization methods an online business uses to make money. This can be done by making sure all revenue and cost amounts are equal to what’s claimed on Flippa. Once you have identified how the business is monetized, make sure you’re capable of performing those same tasks (such as posting affiliate links or stocking inventory), or can easily learn how.

 

Revenue Transferability

It is important to verify that all revenue can be swapped to a new owner, upon buying an asset. This is to make sure the business is still profitable upon taking ownership. Buyers should look over the terms of any third party accounts that are going to be transferred or created.

Websites:
Make sure that the revenue account can be transferred or that opening a new account is straightforward and easy. For example, AdSense accounts cannot be transferred, while PayPal accounts can easily be transferred.

Apps:
For in-app purchases, Advertising services like AdMob or ChartBoost can easily be swapped by placing your own ad IDs into the app. Many sellers can do this for you upon transfer. For in-app purchases, one just needs to take control of the app and change the payment destination.

FBA:
It is up to the buyer to make sure that the FBA account is transferrable. As a seller, you can make sure the business can be transferred by talking to Seller Central.

 

Tracking

Verifying traffic and analytic information is essential to making sure the business is performing as expected.

Websites:
While Flippa does show Google Analytics stats from the listing itself, we highly recommend getting the full picture by asking for Google Analytics “read-only” access.

Apps:
We recommend getting “read-only” access from the seller’s developer account to verify installs and revenue.

FBA:
We recommend getting “read-only” access to the seller central account to verify product sales and revenue.