Alan Kong, a New York based Entrepreneur has built and sold two online businesses (with FE International) and is still a couple of years shy of turning 30. His favorite quote is by Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Alan was fortunate enough to find his calling six years ago when he started his first online business at age 22. He discovered that he developed a great sense of happiness helping others and since then he has built businesses based on products and services that help internet entrepreneurs and small business owners gain an edge online. This is just the beginning of his journey.
After completing a six figure sale earlier this year, we caught up with Alan to ask him about entrepreneurship, building online businesses and selling websites.
What Got You Interested in the World of Online Business?
The flexibility. I loved the idea of being able to work anywhere in the world. All I needed was my laptop. Additionally, from a business standpoint, an online business makes so much more sense than an offline business. For example, there’s barely any start-up cost for an online business. It can be as simple as buying a domain with hosting.
Even more attractive is the scalability. For an offline business, you’re limited to your local area. For an online business, you can have customers from all over the world.
What Would You Say Are the Top Skills Required to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?
First, staying consistent is a very important skill for an entrepreneur. Consistency builds up excellent habits that can grow your company at an exponential rate. For example, people tend to jump around to different traffic sources because something isn’t working right away. Stay consistent with the system, learn it, optimize it, and then move on after you’ve crushed it!
Second, keeping a laser focus on ONE thing. I’ll admit, I have trouble with this sometimes. There are so many awesome projects out there that we can do, yet no matter what, there’s no way we’re going to have time for it all. It also stresses out your brain like crazy! A great quote I heard on this is, “Chase two rabbits, and you’ll end up with none”. So focus on one project at a time, scale it up, sell it (or have someone manage it), and then move onto another project.
Finally, you simply need to care about others. Most of the people who start an internet business get attracted to the amount of money they can make. They’re thinking about themselves. I used to as well. But the minute I shifted my mind to care about others and to actually provide a real solution to their problems, EVERYTHING changed.
What Inspired You to Start a Website in the Disavowal Space?
Simple answer: I predicted the demand for it.
As soon as I heard Google was releasing penalties, I thought to myself, “Business owners must want a clean-up for the crap that SEO agencies did to screw them over. Some may want to start over on a new site, but most will want to see what they can do to salvage their current site because they already worked so hard on it.”
So I threw up a website in a few hours and started running ads into it the next day. Nothing complicated and no overthinking things. Just did it.
And the rest as they say, is history.
How Was the Business Monetized?
We ran the agency model, so the business was monetized by providing a backlink audit and removal service for our clients.
What Do You Think Led to the Success of Your Business?
I believe two things led to the success of the website:
First, we cared for the businesses of anybody who called in. Whether they became a client or not was irrelevant. The only thing I cared about was giving them a solution to their problem.
I never tried to “sell” them. I simply listened to their problems. I helped them understand their situation better by giving them real life examples. Finally, I shared with them a solution to their problem (our service).
If they could not afford it, I told them exactly what they needed to do to fix it themselves. Seriously, the exact steps. If they could afford it, then great! We gave them the best experience possible that fit their situation.
And secondly, because we cared so much, what led to the success of the website was the guarantee we were able to put out there. We were the only company in the industry that would guarantee that we could revoke a manual penalty from Google. Nobody else was willing to say that because they couldn’t predict how long it would take, whether they can actually do it, etc.
I became obsessed with finding the formula to back up that guarantee. Why? Because clients would come to us after trying out other competitors and say that they’ll stop hearing from their current provider because they couldn’t figure it out. Isn’t that crazy? Their providers abandoned them!
To me, it is unacceptable to take someone’s hard earned money without providing real results.
Were There Any Challenges and How Did You Overcome Them?
Honestly, when we first started the business, we’ve never revoked a penalty before. I just knew that we could do it because of my strong SEO background.
So the challenge? How do we provide an effective solution to our primary service if we’ve never done it?
Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
We overcame it by becoming obsessive over it. I tested out different strategies and tracking which actions yielded the results we were looking for.
And this goes back to caring for your customers again. If we didn’t care, we could’ve just taken our client’s money and say, “Woops sorry, we’re out of ideas, but thanks for the money!” Which, on a side note, I absolutely hate about most internet marketers out there.
But we did care. So we did everything we could to not only master the process, but to deliver the results to our clients that they were actually looking for (and deserve).
Had You Ever Sold a Website or Business Before?
Yup, once before with FE International.
What Process Did You Go Through to Find an Online Business Broker?
I was active on a forum during that time and came across Thomas’ postings. He sounded very knowledgeable, so I reached out and we had a great chat. So I listed my first business with him. And of course, I listed the second business with FE International as well due to the awesome experience.
I’ve chatted with a few brokers as well, but they “promised” valuations that were beyond what I thought was realistic. And even said they had “clients ready to buy now”.
I didn’t get any of those false salesman promises with Thomas and I appreciated that.
How Did You Find the Selling Process?
Easy, organized, and seamless. My broker was awesome throughout the process! Everything was detailed, timely, and really professional.
They even chose the best tools and platforms to get the process really smooth. It always helped that my broker was quick to respond via email to my questions.
They save LOTS of time. I can’t imagine having to create a detailed prospectus, weeding out the tire kickers from the serious inquiries, saying the same things over and over to each prospect, and more.
Some people want to save time. Others want to save money. I value my time greatly, so a website broker will always be the best solution for me.
What Advice Would You Give to Someone Wanting to Sell Their Online Business?
Make sure you speak to a broker a half year or year before you sell. You’ll learn what can make your business much more attractive to prospective buyers, which makes for a much easier sale when you’re ready.
Finally, What is Next for You?
Vacations! Ha, that’s a part of it.
My business partner and I started a new agency called Lead The Ranks, and we help businesses increase their customer base through brand awareness.
We help our clients become the authoritative brand and leader of their industry by creating amazing content that is distributed and easily shareable by their fans.
Read our other FE International client success stories: