Update January 2016 – Jeff just sold another business with us, this time for a high six figure sum!
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We are approached by thousands of website owners every year who want help selling their online businesses. Jeff Taylor, the CEO of DEVISE, which was co-founded with Evan Lisabeth, got in touch about selling a fitness website they owned. It was a seven figure listing, an excellent website and a perfect fit for the higher end buyers in our network.
We recently caught up with the sellers to find out about their experience, what they learnt and the keys to their success.
What Got You Interested in the World of Online Business?
I jumped into Internet Marketing several years ago. I started a Web Design firm that focused on building websites for local area businesses, and then from there expanded to providing digital exposure and marketing services for client websites. I soon realized that client work is like having hundreds of bosses; that’s when I made the push to create digital assets to earn revenue for myself.
What Would You Say are the Top Skills Required to be a Successful Entrepreneur?
In my experience, what has brought me success always comes down to personal drive, passion, and the will to work hard. I’ve had thousands of ideas, but unless you put action behind them, nothing will come of the idea. There’s no reason to wait for the perfect time to start a project. Start working on it today.
What Inspired You to Start a Website in the Fitness Niche?
My partner Evan and I have a process we go through when starting a new website or project. One of the key factors we look for in a new niche is the passion for the topic behind the target demographic. People are very passionate about fitness. We also look for gaps in the current digital landscape. When we started our fitness website, there wasn’t a humour based entertainment source for the lifting community outside of forums. We felt that if we supplied this demand with a high quality offering, our audience would grow rapidly, and it did. Over the years, we saw many clones and attempts at emulating us.
What Do You Think Led to the Success of Your Fitness Website?
We believe there were several equal factors to its success. I’ll list a few below:
- Early to market. We established ourselves many years before other clones popped up. Our audience recognized this, and were very loyal. This contributed heavily to the growth of its social media assets.
- Unique content creator. It came to the point that many of our competitors would simply rip off our content, and provide a link to us at the bottom of the article on their site. I can’t tell you how many times their audience or our audience would recognize this, which just contributed to our position as the authority.
- We cared about our audience. We let our fan base know we cared about them through giveaways, and interacting with them socially on a daily basis. There were many times that we would go back and forth internally over whether or not to monetize our fans further through certain channels versus their user experience. Simply, we never wanted to upset our fan base.
Had You Ever Sold a Website or Business Before?
Our company devise.com specializes in the creation, monetization, and transaction of digital media. We’ve sold over 30 web based businesses. We’ve sold through Flippa, forums, brokers, and direct to buyers. Our last transaction through a broker was the most satisfying of our transactions.
What Process Did You Go Through to Find an Online Business Broker?
We knew our website had a large, loyal fan base, and performed very well on social media. We wanted to be fair to the new owner, and not make the sale a public spectacle. We had worked with brokers before on lower price points, but we felt this sale could go for well over seven figures, so we knew we would need specialized expertise. We compared the top brokers, and simply felt that FE International offered a very mature offering, and their past performance spoke for itself.
Why Did You Choose to Work With FE International to Sell Your Business?
We felt they conducted themselves very professionally, and had a proven track record of success at this price point. Also, we were impressed with their overall knowledge of internet based business and marketing. We never once felt like we had to explain how our business model worked, they understood it.
How Did You Find the Selling Process?
Selling at this price point was dramatically different than selling a website under $500,000. The buyers are very diligent, and take their time. It’s a process. The process tested our patience more than a couple times, but we stuck with it, and it ended up being a very rewarding experience.
Where Do You Think a Website Broker Adds the Most Value to the Sales Process?
The small, granular details. I don’t think anyone enjoys dealing with paperwork. We’ve sold websites on marketplaces many times, and it can work well for the lower price points, but personally dealing with thousands of questions, from unqualified buyers is very taxing. You also have the issue of creating a honeypot for hundreds of copycats. It was nice to have a broker qualify our buyers, and shelter us from the hassle. We also weren’t fans of some other brokers because we felt there was no sense of urgency.
What Advice Would You Give to Someone Wanting to Sell Their Online Business?
First focus on quality and user experience. After that focus on creating exposure engines. Exposure engines can be organic or paid. Taking the time to develop a large social media page can pay dividends over the course of time. These exposure engines can put thousands of eyeballs on your content in minutes. They provide a strong launch pad for what you’re offering. With these launch pads, if the offering is quality, it’s hard to fail.
There are rarely shortcuts that don’t compromise quality. It’s worth it end the end to invest your capital and time into a project and have it done right. I know everyone is sick of hearing it, but content is king.
Finally, What is Next for You Both?
My partner Evan Lisabeth and I are constantly researching, building, and looking for new ways to build profitable businesses online. We’re currently putting together something huge for devise.com, which should launch in the next 45 days. We want to give back to the communities that have provided us with so much knowledge through the years. We want to share what we’ve learned and create a true resource; A Definitive Guide to Digital Strategy.