6 security best practices leading up to a sale

6 security best practices leading up to a sale

Author bio

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.


 

If there is any one thing that is absolutely essential to surviving the eCommerce landscape in today’s world, it’s data security.

 

Too often online businesses overlook data security by focusing more on marketing strategies to gain more sales, but the truth is that data security can have a huge effect on your sales as well (not to mention your reputation).

 

“Roughly 60% of online customers today say that they are wary of data breaches, and if they find businesses with compromised payment systems, they’re simply going to find somewhere else to spend their money.”

 

The most successful businesses right now are learning to incorporate the best security practices that lead up to a sale, and not just security that is a byproduct of their organization. With that in mind, here are the top security practices to follow leading up to a sale:

 

1. Migrating Servers & Content

It’s no secret that content gets migrated all the time, as part of a transfer of ownership or simply for a site redesign. Often a business starts with a server provider that is basic and unable to keep up with speed and performance as the company expands its online audience.

For example, many businesses struggle to choose between a website or blog and then start to outgrow the bandwidth and limitations provided. Making the transition to a larger, more reliable server is always a good thing for growing businesses. Unfortunately, it also comes with some significant security risks.

Imagine losing some or all of your important data in the transition. Or imagine personal customer information getting breached during the migration. As a result, you need to make sure security helps sales by making every migration to a more secure server, where it can be one hundred percent safe.

Microsoft’s Storage Migration Service can you help make the transition the most effectively and with as few of security vulnerabilities as possible. Once all the data is transferred, you can then rest more soundly knowing the information is now stored on a more reliable host.

 

2. Controlling Employee Permissions

The CISO or CSO of an organization is not only a guardian of personal data and keeping the company and its technological procedures safe, but is also a curator and custodian of the overall brand.

Security teams should have their hands in every single detail of day-to-day operations, with the goals of defending company assets, meeting market criteria and compliance, and implementing the right technologies at the right times.

Like a ranking order of a military, your employees should also have different permission levels when it comes to helping generate sales. Not every employee should have the exact same access to your systems.

Only the most trustworthy people should have access to the most sensitive information. Apps like Square Employee Management can constantly let your IT team adjust and monitor permissions.

Keeping control of your back end prevents unnecessary leaks and breaches, leading to safer day to day operations. Furthermore, it becomes a domino effect as it builds trust with your customers, knowing you are reputable and take security seriously, knowing they can trust their personal information with you.

 

3. Integrating to the Cloud

There is a reason why so many organizations have moved to the cloud: the cloud has allowed information, and especially sensitive data, to get stored more securely.

Of course, this is a gigantic element of many businesses that care about safety and security. So if your business has not already made the transition, the cloud needs to be your answer if you want to cut costs and improve security. More than 70% of companies in the U.S. now use some form of cloud software — don’t be left behind, and left vulnerable.

Sensitive information that is stored on a computer is no longer the best method. If the computer gets hijacked, lost, or stolen, then everything is compromised. Cloud-based data is encrypted, making it extremely secure and reliable.

 

Are you looking for a premier cloud service? Dropbox, Nextcloud, Google Drive, iCloud, SpiderOak and OneDrive are among the most popular.

 

4. Compliance and Data Privacy

Due to the massive amount of information that is stored and transferred digitally these days, requirements to keep customers information is not only a thing that any company should do to remain ethical but also a legal matter.

More of the developed world is creating compliance procedures and other regulations that businesses must follow. So you’re also supporting and following the law when you act compliant.

Online forms, for example, are a great means for collecting customer information. However, you need to adhere to certain procedures in order to remain compliant. GDPR and CCPA are two examples of compliance measure that are implemented to help protect consumer privacy.

Depending on the industry you operate in, you may have additional measures you need to take. For example, an insurance company has to notify customers what personal data is being tracked and what is not.

Companies that work in the healthcare industry must stick to HIPAA compliant forms and utilize security practices provided by HiTRUST. Failure to secure sensitive data can end up costing a company heavily, including potentially the closing down of the business permanently. The fines can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation, depending on the violation and the severity of the security breach.

 

5. Implement Employee Security Protocols

What you can control the most about your sales is not external, but rather internal matters. In addition to many of the other security practices that help build a client vs. customer trust, organizations much also build management vs. employee trust where you know every single employee, regardless if they are IT or not, are mindful of the best security practices.

 

Even salesman need to understand the basics of cybersecurity in order to contribute to the overall growth and well-being of the company.

Questions you can ask yourself include:

 

  • What are the best practices for accepting credit cards online?
  • What changes in the online payment technology are evolving and how are you adapting?
  • What are the latest security threats and vulnerabilities that target customer credit card and bank account information?

 

All of your employees need to understand that they are responsible for maintaining security protocols in every interaction. According to a study done by Kaspersky, 46% of the businesses surveyed stated that data breaches only happened after irresponsible employees did not follow security protocols. If there isn’t a protocol in place, this is the best time to implement one.

 

6. Transferring SSL Certificates

SSL certificates are a website’s best friend and when it comes to business practices you need to have one in order to expect any reasonable and logical person to entrust you with their personal or financial information.

When a domain gets transferred it must remain secure either with an existing SSL certification or by setting up a new one. In the first security practice section, we covered migrating servers. This is where it becomes applicable.

According to a report from AccuRanker, SSL is not only a ‘nice security feature’ but mandatory if you want to rank well on Google and other search engines. Google now has mandates that require all websites it lists as having to provide an SSL.

Rankings sometimes get impacted negatively when an SSL certificate is changed or updated. It may result in a temporary drop in rankings for your business, although within a few days it should recuperate. Your web host can also help you troubleshoot the problem if it’s still affecting rankings (and therefore sales).

 

Conclusion

Wrapping everything up, we can see that:

  • eCommerce security must be one of your top priorities.
  • Migrating data can put your data at risk.
  • You need to train your employees on proper security protocols.
  • Not all employees are the same; limit their access and permissions.
  • The cloud is great but can be dangerous if not properly secured.
  • There might be more security compliance codes you need to follow.
  • A website MUST have an SSL certificate for any financial or customer sensitive information.

 

In order to keep sales strong and build up trust with customers, consider all of the security practices listed above and implement them immediately if you have not done so already.

 

While it may seem trivial at the moment, it is better to address these issues before something and/or someone messes up. Unfortunately, the human element leads to too many cyber breaches each year. You can work on reducing that in your company through proper security protocols and training. Now is the time to make sure your data is secured properly.

QuickBooks Online is now integrated with Flippa

QuickBooks Online is now integrated with Flippa

With Flippa you can now connect your financial data. This can be done by uploading documentation or effective immediately, customers of QuickBooks can ‘one-click’ connect. Assuming your business is in a good operational state, there are two main determinants to a sale – price and financial health. As it relates to financial health, this is about giving a prospective buyer comfort in what they are acquiring. Think of it like buying a used car — one wouldn’t spend the money without first looking under the hood, viewing accident and incident reports, and taking it for a test drive. Viewing your financial data is analogous to taking a car out for a test drive.

Quickbooks is one of the leaders in this space and we are delighted to announce our integration. With this service, Flippa is making it easier to list and faster to sell.

 

So, how does it work?

 

  1. Start Selling with Flippa
  2. Merchandise your business
  3. Look out for the Quickbooks connection

 

Once you have connected the following will auto-populate:

  • Annualized Revenue and Cost data
  • Prior 3-month performance as a means to assess your current state of operation
  • A P&L covering the prior 12 month period

 

Why is Flippa doing this?


It’s quite simply the most important verification point when considering a business’s value. We know that businesses with access to verifiable financial records sell faster and are more trusted.

Flippa’s integration with Cloud accounting software is an industry first. Buyers can now benefit from increased transparency into financial verification to assess the performance and viability of a business prior to engaging in conversation with sellers. With this integration, sellers can now connect and reveal their financial information to buyers much faster, with less work.

Check out the video tutorial below for more information.

 

Why sellers sell a profitable website

Why sellers sell a profitable website

Author bio - Jaryd Krause

Jaryd Krause CEO & Founder of Buying Online Businesses not only runs the Buying Online Businesses Podcast but spends his time travelling the world and teaching people how to buy websites that are already making passive income. For more info on Jaryd and his mission you can follow him by searching his full name on social or check out his website at www.BuyingOnlineBusinesses.com


 

There are so many great website businesses out there for sale that are making passive income with very little work required to run these website businesses. But why on earth would some sell a profitable website?

This question is far from new to me. As a matter of fact, almost every time someone asks me to explain what it is that I do and how I help people buy websites, this question always follows.

I totally get it though, because when I first saw websites for sale and the amazing returns that can be made from them, even I questioned it. Although the more businesses I bought and the more sellers I spoke to, the greater my understanding was around this question.

To answer the question I always like to relate website investing to property investing. Because when you buy a website business, what you are doing is simply buying digital property that makes money rather than physical property that makes money.

Which means the same reasons people sell a property investment applies to the reasons in which people would sell a website business.

Realistically though the seller wants to sell their profitable website because they want out and underlying that there are many different reasons depending on the website business, the person and their situation which we will dive into throughout this blog.

Is the website business failing?

Let’s get the scary one out of the way first because it does create a lot of skepticism around buying websites. It’s also quite normal to think that if someone is selling a website or anything for that matter there must be something wrong with it, right? And to be totally honest and addressing the elephant in the room, people certainly do sell websites because their website is failing.

Which is why I spend so much time teaching people how to conduct rigorous website due diligence to ensure they can tell the difference between a failing business, a business that is not failing and what opportunities are available to change and grow a business that does have work needed to be done to it to build it back up if it’s struggling slightly.

So the answer is yes, people do sell websites that are making a profit but are failing in different ways and if you are a seller knowing this then valuing your business fairly will allow you to sell your business much quicker. However, in my circumstance and for anyone who has learned how to grow websites, this isn’t such a bad thing knowing some websites need work. It’s the exact opposite and seeing some of these types of website businesses for sale can mean great opportunity.

Did they build this website to sell it?

Have you ever seen a website for sale that has only been around for 6-12 months and some times even less, but the business is making a good income. For example, it could be a business that was started just 6 months ago but is making around $2,000 per month?

I see these all the time and when you get started on your journey to buying websites you will start to see this too. And I think it’s good, it’s actually a strategy that some people use to build their wealth and grow an online business empire. What they do is they have learned how to get really good at starting websites and making them profitable in a short amount of time.

I like this because starting a website to make money online or any business for that matter usually has to pass the 90% failure rate that all startups face. This is what led me to buy websites because I found it smarter and easier to buy websites where someone else has done all the hard work and the business is making a profit before I even buy.

Which means another reason that people sell websites that are already making a profit is that that is their strategy. They start a website build it up over a few months, usually 6-12 months or a little more and then they sell it and make a good profit from doing so. The crazy thing that people may think is that the person who started it, is cashing out and getting more money back than they put in and whilst that is very true I believe it is also very fair.

Because there is a certain skill in starting a business and to get it to a point where it is profitable and easy to manage and there are certain time costs that these people put into building the business in which some people can forget to factor in. In fact, the more people that start website businesses to sell them the better, because it gives me so many more great opportunities and investments to choose from.

 

Can the owner keep the business going and growing?

We have all been at this point before whether it be in business or life. Where we get to a certain level of success and we don’t know how to keep growing and achieving new heights. And no matter how hard we try, we keep doing the same thing we have always done and wondered why it’s not working.

The same goes for websites businesses and their owners. I see this often where I speak to sellers and they really do love their business and they want to see it succeed and grow even bigger than it is when selling. However they don’t know how to do it, they don’t either have the time nor do they have the dedication and energy to keep pushing the business to new heights.

In these cases, I find these sellers certainly are sussing out the new possible buyer just as much as the potential buyer is sussing out their business. The reason for this is because the business the seller has built, grown and created is their kind of like their ‘baby’ in a way and they want to ensure it is going to safe hands.

These sellers can be emotionally attached to the business in different ways and knowing they have put so much time, money, effort and energy into their business. Having it going to a great home really is just as important to them as the money they receive from the sale.

 

Does the seller need the cash & what for?

People invest for all different reasons and I always come back and relate website investing to property investing. You have people that invest in property hold onto it and you have people who buy, renovate and then flip those properties.

Just like property investing, people do the same with websites investing. Some people do want to buy those websites we have already talked about that are failing and need work or buy websites where the owner hasn’t been able to scale it. And they then grow those websites and either flip them or they grow it and hold onto it for a while and then eventually want to sell.

All in all most people do sell their websites to cash out and spend their money wherever it is they wish. I once nearly bought a birdcage business off someone in America who wanted the money from their website to go to a college education. Another seller I talked to wanted to sell their website so they could afford surgery.

Whilst some people want to cash out and buy things, other website investors I have spoken to honestly want to sell so they can take their money from the website sale and re-invest it into another project.

It certainly is great to know why websites sellers do sell profitable websites. Although, what an even more important thing to know is how to perform great due diligence. This way you can ensure that no matter the reason they are selling you can detect whether the website is a good investment or not.

5 steps to follow for a graceful business exit strategy

5 steps to follow for a graceful business exit strategy

Author bio

Dan Fries is a freelance writer and full stack Rust developer. He looks for convergence in technology trends, with specific interests in cyber security, micro mobility, and smart cities. Dan enjoys snowboarding and is based in Hong Kong with his pet beagle, Teddy. His website is danfries.net.


 

The current climate for company owners and entrepreneurs is dynamic and competitive, which means that exiting a business can actually be a wise and profitable move under the right conditions.

Exiting does not have to be about cutting your losses. Some entrepreneurs feel that selling can be a good option whenever they get to the point where the company is operating at the level they intended, and others simply want to pursue other activities that may not be related to entrepreneurship.

A turnkey business proposal should be similar to a marketable title in terms of making investors feel that they can pick up the reins to the business immediately after the sale is finalized.

Cheat sheet for an exit plan audit

The ambition that drove you to turn your business idea into a reality should be the same that guides you to package your company into a neat and exciting package for investors.

Ask yourself, from a high level: Do you want the business to be taken over by the highest bidder? Would you prefer to see a continuance of the brand you worked so hard to build? …Or somewhere in the middle?

If you do feel strongly one way or the other, you are in the majority. However, your business partner or partners may not feel the same way.

Suitable business successors who share your business goals are generally more difficult to find, but there is a strong chance that they will be optimists who do not care too much about the exit plan audit and turnkey checklists.

With all this in mind, the following guide is for the most likely scenario of a business sale proposal that hopes to attract the highest bidder.

 

Step 1 – Get your accounts and finances in order

An easy transfer is the greatest marketability factor in a business sale transaction, and this is intrinsically related to its finances. Let’s say an e-commerce store has been operating for three years and is looking to sell.

If the seller is not able to come up with two documented years of financial history, the best prospects are bound to take a pass and the listing will get stale. When this happens, lowballing sharks and vultures will begin to circle, thus increasing the chances of having to sell at a loss.

But the process of exiting the business might be compared to that of buying a new home in that it requires a stock check. Clarity in the specifics of your accounts will be both beneficial to you and to your successor. Keep in mind that most supporting records of at least two years of reliable financial history should include:

* Detailed list of debtors and creditors

* Stock ownership

* Capital gains information

* Depreciation

* All operating expenses

* Staff and wages details

* Bookkeeping ledgers

* Operating agreements and other documents

If the e-commerce shop seller has diligently used Quickbooks or Zoho for bookkeeping and accounting, coming up with these records and presenting them to prospective buyers will not be difficult.

Naturally, any reasonable opportunity to improve a negative item should be taken. For example, if you have an overdue web design bill for $300, pay it immediately.

 

Step 2 – Identify your contract status

Purchase prospects have a right to learn about the contracts keeping the business in operation, but they will also appreciate a frank opinion of these agreements.

An e-commerce may have multiple banner exchanges in place, and they may have run their course or become conflicting without the owner taking action.

If the seller thinks that some of the exchanges should be reconsidered, the best approach is to express such opinions to the buyers.

Similarly, the buyer would like to know if the current email marketing services provider can be replaced on the spot or if a hard agreement is written in stone for a few more months. Often, enterprise email clients like Outlook have multi-year contracts, but relative to alternatives like G Suite, Mailbird and Aweber.

 

Step 3 – What is the condition of your current software licenses?

You will want to make a clear list of all software used to support the business. This should also include the licensing model.

The list does not have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a column/row chart, but it should be detailed insofar as cloud-based subscriptions, SaaS service agreements, e-commerce software platforms, peripheral devices, and login credentials.

If you think that your company may have benefited with the use of software you never got around to installing, this is something that you should communicate to prospective buyers before they ask.

Or maybe you originally developed the site on a shoestring budget with a popular website builder like Wix or CMS like WordPress, but have lately come to believe that it’s time to move past the simplified DIY model and spring for a professionally constructed version.

You avoided this technological upheaval because you planned on unloading the business but that’s information that should be passed along.

 

Step 4 – Help buyers post-transfer

Not all buyers look forward to handshakes, receiving the keys, and saying goodbye. Some prospects will be upfront and tell you that they are only interested in the domain name or social media accounts. When this is the case, they may not even walk you to the door.

On the other hand, if a fashion boutique owner purchases an established e-commerce shop as an extension of the brick-and-mortar business she inherited from relatives, she may not know anything about online retail and would like a guiding hand. Are you willing to help this buyer if the sales price is right?

Brand-conscious sellers will likely offer business guidance to their successors if requested, but even if you do not care about what happens to the brand you built, your post-transfer collaboration could be turned into an attractive selling factor for the right prospect.

 

Step 5 – Meet with the employees and vendors

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about technology and processes but would be remiss to leave out the human factor, which is the most important “step” on this list.

An online business that is successful enough to draw the attention of buyers is likely to have at least a few employees and certainly a handful of vendors. It’s a common courtesy to make the introductions among all parties involved and let everyone know there’s a new sheriff riding into town.

And just because the online business world often has employees scattered across the planet and whom might have never met one another face-to-face, do your best to at least get the initial conversations started.

A buyer might want to bring in his own team but then again, they might not.

 

Go forth, and exit with grace

In the end, your business exit strategy can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be.

Realize, though, that the more you work on making your proposal marketable and enticing, the better your chances of making the sort of profit that satisfies your grandest dreams of avarice.

At the same time, you do owe some debt to the buyer to set them up with the best chance to succeed.

 

 

Seller interview – All My Friends Are Models

Seller interview – All My Friends Are Models

This week at Flippa, I caught up with Sasha Benz the owner of All My Friends Are Models, an online publication that is currently for sale on Flippa. In the video below Sasha talks about the power of the brand, the business’s success to date and how a publication like this makes money. We also touch on the opportunity for prospective buyers and how they could take this business to the next level. 

How to improve the value of your website

How to improve the value of your website

When you list a website with the intention of selling it, a major concern for you is receiving bids that don’t truly reflect the value of the website. While it is normal practice for buyers to try and bargain for a price that is lower than the actual value of the product, a website with top value will eventually get sold on the higher end of the valuation spectrum.

If you plan on selling your website or blog, your principal objective should be ensuring that it is sold for the highest price possible.

Here are a few ways to improve the value of your website for prospective buyers:

Create Good Content for Your Website

If you want your website to be highly valued, you must invest in creating good content that will be both engaging and compelling. The expression, “content is king”, still remains relevant today since the content is the principal component that determines the success of a website or blog.

Regardless of the type of web business you intend to sell, whether it is a blog, a web application, or a service website, one way you’re guaranteed to increase its value is by adding relevant content that will actually be useful to internet visitors

Good content also increases search engine visibility and ensures that your web platform is highly placed on SERPs. If you’re unable to create the content yourself, you can simply hire an expert from freelance websites like Upwork Freelancer, and Peopleperhour that will handle the whole process for you.

The costs of content writing services are actually quite affordable due to the proliferation of freelance websites. On average, you can spend between $10 to $20 for a 500-word article, though articles of very high quality go for premium rates that reach up to $80 each.

One aspect of content creation you must also focus on is the proper use of clickbait titles. This practice helps drive loads of traffic to a website; hence, properly implementing its use will certainly increase the value of your website.

Establish Multiple Sources of Traffic

The amount of traffic a website receives is one of the key parameters used to determine its value, which is why sites with impressive traffic often get sold for lots of money. This is because traffic has a direct influence on revenue generation. In e-commerce sites, high traffic ultimately transforms into high conversion rate, which leads to an increase in sales. For blogs, traffic indirectly leads to the generation of revenue by various marketing and advertising mediums; hence, if the blog you’re selling has lots of traffic, then it is bound to be highly valuable.

If a website, however, doesn’t have much traffic yet, its value can still be raised by establishing multiple sources and channels that will bring in the desired traffic with little effort. Buyers looking to buy websites with huge potentials often look for those that already have traffic generation mechanisms in place. Whether it is setting up one or multiple active social media channels or having SEO tools in place on the web platform, you must ensure that your listed website has a traffic source that can be exploited to bring in web visitors.

Engage in Lots of Link-Building to Increase Backlinks Value

The value of a website can also be gauged by assessing the ease with which it ranks on the first page of Google’s result pages for specific keywords. This is usually done using the popular Moz metric, Domain Authority.

If the website you wish to sell has little or no inbound links pointing to it, then there is a good chance that its domain authority value will be low. Buyers who have a broad knowledge of SEO understand why it is important for a website to have a respectable DA value. Even if the website doesn’t receive much traffic, its high DA value still guarantees top placement of well-written content on result pages of the search engine giant, Google.

One proven method that is used to increase the DA of a website is link-building. By having numerous links from very reputable websites or blogs point to your website’s URL, you automatically increase its reputation and thus, boost its DA value considerably.

It may take some time for the effects of the link-building process to be noticed, but most often times, increase in DA value can be seen within a few weeks.

When engaging in link-building practices for your website, you should only ensure that white-hat techniques like guest posting, blog commenting, and defective link replacement is used to acquire links.

Guest posting remains the most effective link building method to date. As the name suggests, it is the process of crafting an article or blog post for a reputable website. Though the primary purpose of engaging in this practice is to inform and educate the site’s audience, you can also benefit from writing the content by inserting a link that points back to your site.

To begin guest posting, all you have to do is send outreach emails to multiple websites that belong to your site’s niche and ask kindly if they would like you to contribute with an article or a post. Doing this increases your chances of scoring very good link-building opportunities for your website.

Using any link-building method frowned upon by Google may lead to your website being at the receiving end of a penalty, which will only harm your DA value even more.

Make the Website Highly Responsive

Before listing a website, you should ensure that the site isn’t lacking in the area of website responsiveness. With mobile devices now accounting for nearly half of internet visits, responsiveness is a website quality that is simply non-negotiable. Buyers now also know the value of having a website that is optimized for mobile access, which is why it has become one of the principal components of the Flippa checklist.

If your website’s mobile display is very poor though, the chance of it being purchased drops drastically. Not only does Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites when ranking web platforms, sites that are highly responsive are also likely to have and retain more traffic than those that are unappealing to mobile visitors.

Change Your Website’s Domain Name…When Applicable

There are times when a strategic domain name may be the factor that seals the deal on a website purchase. So you must not discard the idea of changing your website’s domain name when you want to sell it.

Unless the revenue generated by your website is attractive enough to bring in bids from buyers, the option of upgrading to a domain name that is commercially viable is always open. A catchy domain name can be a defining factor that compels a hesitant buyer to make a purchase; so do not just see it as expenditure but as an investment.

Improve Revenue Generation

Since generating revenue is the main goal of a website, listing a website that has consistently made lots of money is certainly going to see many buyers show interest. Website buyers, however, prefer the plug and play model when it comes to revenue generation, and many will turn down the chance to purchase a promising site in favor of a site that consistently rakes in money.

Depending on what the focus of your site is, you can improve its revenue generation with a little hard work and dedication. One way to boost your site’s revenue is by marketing affiliate products to visitors. Other revenue generation channels are ads, e-commerce, and sponsored content.

Study your website well and choose a revenue generation channel that will be perfect for it. You can also apply two or more channels together to further maximize the traffic your site receives and earn more money.

Conclusion

While you have the right to ascribe any value to your listed website, you must understand that buyers’ valuations are based on applicable factors that they can assess themselves. These steps may take some time to establish, but the end result can be well worth it if you want your website to meet and surpass these valuations, which is why upgrading it to its highest capacity is the best option for you.