Small Business Trends

Small Business Trends

Survey Performed by Guidant Financial
Commentary by Benjamin Weiss of Flippa

Small business ownership has never been more exciting. As the world hurdles towards an increasingly digital future, it’s easier than ever for the average person to start their own business. Compared to the days of yore, when starting a business might have meant renting space in a commercial or industrial building, purchasing office equipment, investing in manufacturing machines and supplies, hiring a small team, spending 60+ hours each week in an office or at your shop, and getting out about town when you found the time, handing out flyers or purchasing expensive advertising in newspapers or local television to attract customers to your business, investing in a digital asset and starting a business from the comfort of your home office is a relative walk in the park.

Flippa works each day with small business entrepreneurs, allowing them to own their future by investing in online businesses that they can build into incredible profit centers. Recently, we at Flippa teamed up with our friends at Guidant Financial to gain a bit of insight into the world of small business ownership, particularly in the online industry, and some of our findings were highly intriguing. Enough so, that we wanted to share a bit here with you in the hopes that it can get those entrepreneurs on the edge of investment excited to take the plunge and to let those already deep in the waters know that they are not alone in both their successes and their struggles. Digital entrepreneurship can be a wild ride, but one that people are standing in line to join.

Why did you go into business for yourself?

The first thing that stood out to us in this study was the reasoning behind the majority of digital entrepreneurs deciding to take the step into business ownership. While we would have originally assumed that a number of business owners came out of necessity – having either lost their corporate job or been thrust into a new life scenario that they weren’t prepared for – only 5% of those surveyed claimed these reasons.

So, why do most people start their own business? 65% of respondents were simply ready to be their own boss. Dissatisfied with corporate America and through with trying to climb the ostensible “corporate ladder”, online business owners are seeing the digital community as a worthwhile and relatively easy leap. Switching from the suit and tie commute downtown to the tshirt living room hustle is an exciting opportunity and one that allows you to live life by your own rules.

Interestingly enough, the second highest response, with 55% of respondents reporting in favor, was the desire to purpose their passion. Long are the days when you’d go to work to get a pay check and come home to your family and your hobbies, dealing with the grind as that is just how life works. The modern business person wants to enjoy every aspect of their day, the pay check only being one part of the equation. Having the opportunity to work in a category that brings a smile to their face is increasingly important.

What is the toughest part of running your own business?

Running a business isn’t all fun and games. There are plenty of challenges, many of them dependent completely on the business, but there are a number of business aspects that seem to affect a whole lot of small business owners. 

50% of respondents claim that a lack of capital is one of the toughest parts of running a business. This comes as no surprise to us at Flippa as it’s something that we hear quite often as a reason for owners to sell their companies, particularly if they own multiple – they simply need more capital if they want to grow, often selling one business to finance another. It’s quite common that a business owner can find their pace after a few months of growth, start generating a steady profit, and then hit a wall. Without putting every penny back into the company or finding outside investment for tools, staff, or marketing, it can be tough to grow, but certainly not impossible. 

Relatively surprising to our team was that nearly 50% of respondents also claim that marketing and advertising is one of their biggest hurdles. Perhaps it’s because so many Flippa users are experts at SEO and ad retargeting schemes, but it was a bit of a shock to hear how tough the marketing aspect of running a business can be for many owners. So, if this is you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Luckily there are plenty of resources out there, even within Flippa’s own blog, that can help you conquer the world of digital marketing, and trust us, it’s much more affordable to advertise in the digital age than ever before. With audience targeting and the many ways to split a budget, the return on ad spend (ROAS) can skew greatly in your favor once you learn a few tricks.

The other surprise to us was that 36% of respondents have a tough time with time management. There are two likely scenarios for this response. First, this may simply be the outcome of moving from a structured, corporate environment to one in which you are completely responsible for your own time and tasks. While this can sound fantastic, there is a real learning curve to this change in business lifestyle. Secondly, there are a lot of factors involved in running your own business that a new owner might not have thought about at the beginning. Everything from tax paperwork to responding to customer support messages can fall on the shoulders of the sole business owner and until you lock down a system that works for you, or outsource a bit of help, it can feel a bit overwhelming. 

How happy are you as a business owner?

Sure, running your own business can be tough at times, but when it comes down to it, how many of those surveyed are happy about their situation? Turns out that 73% of respondents are either very happy or somewhat happy to be running the show with another 17% not feeling one way or another about the situation. So, the answer is yes. The overwhelming majority of small business owners are either happy with their situation or if nothing else, not mad about it.

What was the total cost to launch your business and if you had additional capital, what would it be spent on?

Fascinatingly, 77% of respondents started their business for under $50,000. This is truly incredible. Can you imagine starting a brick and mortar business for anything near that number? Rent alone in a high traffic area can cost more than that per annum. This stat is one of our favorites of the entire survey as it goes to prove how important many of the seemingly small listings on Flippa can be to the right owner. When it comes to digital assets and online businesses, the old adage of “it takes money to make money” is thrown out the window. Sure, it takes a bit of money, but what it really takes is initiative.

So, how would these owners spend their money if they were given a bit of capital to throw around? The majority (60% of respondents) would tackle their marketing plans. Spending on advertising is incredibly important these days, particularly with the relatively recent changes to social media algorithms making it tough to crack through the noise organically. 

What are your plans when the time comes to move on?

It certainly doesn’t surprise us, but it definitely makes us giddy to know that 72% of respondents claim that they would plan to sell their web business on a marketplace such as Flippa when the time comes to exit their business. This is the reason that Flippa exists. There are more digital assets in the world than there are cars, yet there aren’t used asset shops on every corner. We exist solely to help small business owners own their future by giving them the opportunity to sell their hard work to other eager entrepreneurs.

What is the primary reason for not taking the first steps in purchasing or starting an online business?

No real surprise here, both funding and and a bit of self motivation are the primary factors. While there are a number of relatively affordable starter site businesses available on Flippa, it can be a bit frightening to put your savings into a business for the first time. Investing in yourself is the best investment that you can make, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. If money is tight and you aren’t ready to jump into the deep end, take a look at some of the starter sites available on Flippa and consider working on a little side project before going full steam ahead. Get your feet wet, learn the ropes, and then take the opportunity to become your own boss.

In conclusion

The movie towards owning your future with an online business is building rapidly. People are becoming more and more fed up with the traditional corporate lifestyle and are finding ways to make money through entrepreneurship in the digital space. It can be tough at times, particularly thinking about finances and marketing, but overwhelmingly, those who take the step in to ownership are enjoying their lives.

5 Ways To Build an Email List From Scratch

5 Ways To Build an Email List From Scratch

If you’re a new business owner or operator wondering how to build an email list, rest assured you’re not alone. Email is one of the most – if not the most -effective online marketing channels today, but it’s also a tough nut to crack.

As the internet seems to be overtaken by social media likes and memes, email is still the gold standard for customer communication, and if used correctly it can be a very effective way of generating sales and ensuring customer loyalty. An established and extensive email marketing list can also increase the value of your website because buyers value sites that have already built up a customer following.

Getting customer email addresses can be tricky, though. Research shows that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, and so you should expect to dedicate a significant level of resources to building your email list.

There are, however, some techniques that can be very effective in maximizing the time and money you spend on collecting email addresses. In this article, we’ll show you five of them.

1. Create A Personalized CTA

A core principle of marketing your email list – and, in fact, a core principle of any kind of marketing – is to make your CTAs as specific and personal as possible.

When building the CTAs on your website, you should remember that the vast majority of your visitors are looking for something specific, and not just cruising the web in the hope they find something useful. Let’s say a particular page on your site is attracting a lot of traffic, and that page is called “List-Building Strategy”. Instead of a generic CTA like “sign up for our email newsletter”, make a specific CTA for that page that invites customers to “enter your email to receive our list-building toolkit”.

Research conducted by HubSpot has found personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs.

2. Pop-Ups and Slide-Ins

Using pop-up windows is something of an art form. We all know that pop-ups can be really irritating, but they can also be very effective in prompting visitors to give you their email address.

Most of the best website builders today offer advanced tools for targeting and timing your pop-ups, and you should use them. One strategy is to time your pop-ups so that they only appear after a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your site. This means that they have a chance to read about what you are offering, and are less likely to be annoyed by the prompt.

This was the approach that Digital Marketer used in a case study, and it was very successful. By timing a pop-up to appear after 15 seconds, they managed to generate 2,689 leads in two weeks, and increased their average time on page by 54%. They also made sure that these pop-ups highlighted the value of subscribing to their email list, which we’ll come to shortly.

3. Humor

Using humor in your CTAs can also be a very effective way of reaching your customers. Today, we are so used to CTAs popping up on every site we visit that in most cases we just ignore them. Injecting a bit of personality into your CTAs with specific phrases and techniques can be a great way of cutting through the noise.

Your aim should be to show that your business is run by humans and that you are trustworthy and friendly. Using humor is a good way to do that, and can also help you to quickly build up a strong eCommerce community: if your customers feel that they are dealing with a friend rather than a faceless business, they reward you with increased loyalty.

4. Highlight Value

Perhaps the most important aspect of your CTA is the value it offers to your customers.

Just think about the email lists that you subscribe to. If you haven’t marked a particular company’s emails as spam, that’s likely because you find them genuinely useful. No one wants another generic email newsletter so create inviting newsletters and be unique. What they want is information that is timely and relevant, delivered to them directly.

In practice, this means that you should avoid asking your customers to “sign up” or “subscribe” to your email list. Instead, make it clear what your emails can offer your customers: “download our exclusive content”, or “get access to our in-depth guides.” If you find yourself stuck for an enticing idea, consider producing an industry specific product. This company keeps the sign-up business brisk with free invoice templates for small business owners, which offer real world value beyond the the nebulous promise of a weekly newsletter.

Varying and personalizing your email content in this way also has another huge advantage: it makes it less likely that your emails get automatically marked as spam, and deleted. Email systems are now pretty good at detecting the most common email scams, and they do this by checking if your emails are too generic. In short: personalize your content, and your customers actually receive it.

5. Pitch Your Email Newsletter On Social Media

If you really want to build an email list quickly and effectively, social media must be a part of your strategy. Move away from the standard content-based CTAs, and use your social media profiles to pitch your email newsletter. The people who are following your business on social media are already interested in what you are doing, after all, so it makes sense to take advantage of this interest.

Using social media to promote a new business is best when you leverage the power of these channels, rather than relying on your customers checking their social media feeds. Use your social media posts to stress the variety of ways that your customers can stay engaged with your business – including your website and your email newsletter – and you can ensure that you are using every channel you have available.

Further, make sure that you’re sending an email to your social media followers when they’re most likely to open it. Research shows that the best time to send email is in the evening around 6-7pm, and then again later at night after 9pm.

Going Further: How To Build Your Email List

These five tips should get your email marketing list off to a great start, but remember that email marketing is a process, not an event. You need to continually vary your content and offer to keep existing customers engaged, and you should try to ensure that your email marketing list is constantly growing.

Once you have established a list, you should also make sure that you regularly audit it. Make sure that you are storing personal information safely, and delete any emails that don’t work. Above all, keep your email content fresh, and make every email valuable to your customers, and they’ll want to keep reading them.

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.


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
How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

How to Use Social Media to Promote a New Business

Creating and promoting a business is a big endeavour. You have to create a winning product, employ the right employees, and market your products and services successfully.

And while doing this, you also have that thought at the back of your mind that most businesses fail within 5 years.

However, we’re here to talk about your business success. And in order to have a successful business, you need effective marketing strategies to help achieve your business targets.

One of the best platforms to promote your business is social media. How big is it? 3.356 billion users big.

digital use around the world 2018

With social media, you can find your ideal customers if you target the right social media channels. You can deliver your message to your audience, interact with users to build trust, and, with the right approach, even convert followers into paying customers.

Now, how do you promote your business through social media? In this blog post, discover 7 best practices on how to use social media to promote a new business:

1. Create a buyer persona

To send the right messages to your audience, you need to create a buyer persona to help you understand your ideal buyer.

In this document, you’ll have as many details as possible about this ideal customer. Some of these include:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Income
  • Job
  • Solutions they need from your product
  • Favourite social media channels
  • Location
  • Ambitions

With a full picture of who your ideal buyer is, it becomes easier to send messages they’re likely to resonate with. Likewise, you’re able to build trust and make the right offers.

A tool that can help you to gather more details about your buyers is a social listening tool like Brandwatch; this allows you to research your audience based on relevant keywords so that you can gather important information, such as where they are from, what platforms and channels they regularly use, what influencers they follow, what other brands they interact with and, without enough research, even their needs and interests:

brandwatch screenshot

2. Set social media goals

Without social media goals, there’s no way to measure the failure or success of your social media activities. In most cases, businesses have the following goals when they use social media:

  • Brand awareness
  • Audience engagement
  • Leads acquisition
  • Improve sales

While setting your social media goals, you have to set objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). This is vital because your goals will affect your social media strategy and other activities: when you know exactly what you want to achieve, you can focus on creating content that will help you achieve those goals.

For example, if you’re just starting out and getting a business of the ground, you’ll probably want to generate more brand awareness. In that case, you’d need to create highly engaging content for social media, such as images and videos showcasing your brand and your logo, funny and engaging images that are highly shareable and you’ll likely want to increase the amount of updates you post so that you can reach a wide an audience as possible.

3. Create a winning social media strategy

Social media is so big that it’s easy to get lost amidst the noise. And setting goals alone is insufficient to achieve them. You have to create a strategy that can help you achieve your goals.

Some important elements to have in your strategy are:

  • Your content types
  • Frequency of updates
  • Social media calendar
  • Social media tools you need
  • How to collaborate with team members
  • How to track your goals

A social media strategy will guide you through the right actions to take on your accounts and when to take them – don’t overlook the importance of creating a strategy as it will ultimately help you save time and boost your results.

4. Use social media tools for better productivity

There are many aspects of your social media campaigns that require tools. And these tools help you save time and engage better with your audience. Some aspects you should consider, are:

  • Social media management
  • Content creation
  • Content curation
  • Social media monitoring
  • Social media analytics

One of the most important tools you need to get is a social media management tool; this is because it will allow you to manage all of your social channels from one place, thus helping you save considerable time managing your profiles. What’s more social media management tools also have some extra features that can make a huge difference to your results: tools for collaborating with your team, access to social media analytics, monitoring features for keeping track of your brand name online and other handy features.

An effective tool you can use for social media management is SocialPilot. It’s an all-inclusive social media management tool that works with all major social networks and allows for team collaboration as well:

socialpilot screenshot

It provides an easy-to-use calendar that helps your team members plan and schedule updates ahead of time, as well as collaborate with others. What’s more, you can also engage with social media users, across channels, directly in your dashboard and access your social media analytics, among other features.

To satisfy your audience, you’ll find that the amount of content you produce might be insufficient. With content curation, you can get relevant content from other sources to share with your audience.

A tool you can use for this is Quuu. Before a piece of content is recommended for your account, it will be vetted by humans.

quuu screenshot

Monitoring provides business and industry mentions that helps you find opportunities to respond to complaints, find potential leads, and customers. With analytics, you can see the numbers that indicate your social media performance.

Many social media management tools offer monitoring and analytics, so you might need no extra tool; you can check this very detailed social media tool buyer’s guide to see exactly what to look for and how to choose the right tool for your needs.

5. Focus on a few social media channels

It might be enticing to run as many social media accounts as possible. But this could actually harm your results if you don’t really have the time to manage them all properly.

It’s better to maintain a strong presence on a few social media channels that are likely to bring results for your business. Based on your buyer persona and your social listening research, you already know the social media channels popular with your audience.

For instance, if you’re marketing a B2B product, then LinkedIn and Facebook are channels you should focus on. However, if you’re marketing food or fashion items, you’d achieve better results by focusing on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

If you find it difficult to know the social media channels your ideal buyers hang out, you can check on your competitors. Which social media channels do they focus on?

By focusing on a few social media platforms, you can invest your efforts where they’re most likely to yield results.

6. Add visuals to your social media updates

On social media, there’s so much content and you’re in a tough competition to attract your audience’s attention. Sharing only text updates can only go so far.

To get your message across more effectively and improve engagement, you need to implement visuals in your social media updates. For starters, the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

To create visuals for your social media campaigns, the expensive route is to employ designers. But by using the right tools, you can make professional visuals at a lower cost and at scale.

When you consider that you’ll need visuals regularly, using tools is the best option as a new business. A tool like Canva can help you create images you can use on various social media channels.

And you need little to no design skills to use them. You’ll find templates of various sizes made to fit specific social media channels. In a few minutes, you can get an image to use in your update.

canva screenshot

Another visual content format that is very popular right now is video. Over the years, video marketing has become more popular and you’ll find that most social media channels now support videos.

And that’s because customers now expect it. In a HubSpot study, 54% of consumers say they want to see videos from businesses.

content preferences study

To create video at scale, you can use tools to help. Many of them provide ready-made templates, easy drag and drop editing and are generally very easy to use, even as beginners. One great solution is which features numerous templates and a huge library of video clips that you can use in your videos (although you can also upload your own clips): screenshot

Plus, you can add your watermark to videos, add calls to action and easily include captions in your video scenes.

7. Engage with your audience and build a community

Social media goes beyond sharing your updates and hoping for the best. Communication on social media, as with other online channels, is a two-way street.

You need to reply to comments and reshare interesting posts from your followers.

Added to this, social media is a popular platform for customer support. Many of your prospects and customers will make inquiries and send complaints through social media.

Your ability to respond in a short time will build trust with your audience. According to The Social Habit study by Edison Research, 42% of consumers expect a response from a company on social media within 1 hour.

social media customer service study

Through proper engagement, you can build a community with your audience over time, turn them into loyal customers, and even your very own brand ambassadors.


Social media can be overwhelming for your new business at first. But with the right strategy, tools, and execution, you can achieve your targets on social media.

Save this list and use it as a guide while building your social media campaigns – these are the most important aspects to developing a strong social media plan for a small business.

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.

The big increase in women-owned online businesses

The big increase in women-owned online businesses

The trajectory is clear. There is a surge in female business entrepreneurship. However, the finer details reveal a more complex pattern than appears at first impression. The 2018 American Express economic study ‘State of Women-Owned Businesses Report’, presented an exciting picture of the rise in female business ownership. It reported that in the US there are almost 2,000 new businesses being founded by women each day and that women now own around 40% of businesses overall. However, the devil is in the detail, and in stark contrast the highly regarded tech industry reviewer TechCrunch reports that only 17% of all business startups have a female founder, and that proportion has not grown significantly over the past 6 years. A glass ceiling also applies to female-owned businesses which have been backed by venture capital investment. So, what explains the apparent disparity in these reports?

The highest proportion of women-owned enterprises are in the small business and non-tech business sectors. Since the 1970s the number of all women-owned businesses in the US has increased by a staggering multiple of more than 30 times, and importantly the employment created by those businesses has increased 40-fold. Yet they still account for only 6% of total workforce employment and under 5% of all business revenues.

While there was considerable growth over the past decade in the proportion of businesses generating more than $1 million dollars per annum in revenue which are female-owned, women-owned businesses still remain predominantly small ones, with businesses generating more than $1 million dollars per annum accounting for only 1.7% of all female-owned businesses. For proper understanding of the statistics it’s important to clarify that where a business involves partnerships and multiple owners/founders, the classification of female-owned and female-founded is defined as at least 50% of the ownership is female. In this context TechCrunch clarifies that only one-third of female-founded businesses are entirely female-owned and led. 

So, notwithstanding the undeniable impression of a dramatic improvement in the overall level of female business ownership, the detail is complex and masks the reality that women are still under-represented in both online businesses and tech-based startups and particularly in VC-backed businesses. 

This is so notably the case that in 2018 a mere 2% of all VC investment funding for all startup businesses in the US went to enterprises with all-female founders. The reasons for this are clear. Firstly, the vast majority of all-female businesses are too small to attract venture capital. Secondly, investment decision-making in venture capital still remains so male-dominated that over 90% of those who allocate investment funding in the US are male. However, the consequent financial favoring of male enterprises is arguably based primarily on unconscious affinities and informal, unintentionally-gendered business networks rather than any deliberate bias.

As a potential change driver, the present under-representation of women in VC-backed businesses actually presents a massive opportunity. The current time seems poised at a critical turning point for a substantial and sustained increase in female entrepreneurship in online businesses. In February this year, Forbes published a report on the many reasons for women now being more motivated than ever to start up or buy into their own businesses, instead of being content to remain an employee of someone else’s business. 

Multiple large-scale surveys consistently establish that women are motivated to start their own businesses in the pursuit of freedom, financial independence and personal fulfillment. For many women, independent entrepreneurship is also a way of circumventing the glass ceiling they have encountered in their professional employment.

More and more women are recognizing unmet service and product needs in society and developing innovative solutions to create and capture a lucrative and professionally rewarding market niche. 


Key enablers for the trend to gather momentum

Increased Access to Business Finance

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) urges women to make greater use of network support opportunities including Small Business Administration support and loan programs and partner networks such as SCORE and the Women’s Business Center. Networking, including online support networks, can provide valuable encouragement, advice and practical resources. This can create access to existing networks of ‘angel investors’ who are specifically focused on female entrepreneurship – or at least consciously predisposed to financing women-founded, owned and led businesses. 

Greater female access to business startup capital is poised to be a powerful game-changer. As this development gains traction it may re-focus the targets of larger scale venture capital financing which, as stated, is currently deflected from female-founded and female-led business ventures.

Effective Mentoring for Women in Business

Successful established female entrepreneurs can provide crucially important role modeling and a powerful source of practical advice and guidance for aspiring and novice business founders and also for women who buy an existing online business with the intention of managing it well and developing it further. Female mentoring networks are thriving, widespread and very easy to connect with. They can be expected to result in real and sustained improvement in women’s participation in all kinds of business ventures, maybe particularly in the online and startup environments. Male mentors have a valuable role to play too and many women in business have found the supposed boys’ club is actually far more open, supportive and collaborative than it’s sometimes perceived to be. 

Time to Seize the Day

For women, this is the greatest of times to create your own business space and join the growing community of female online business leaders. The necessary success factors are in place, the momentum is gathering, and the opportunity awaits right here and now.