Working from home. Driving a Lambo. Night cuddling with a beautiful blonde golden retriever. Livin’ the dream. This can all be yours when you purchase the right online business for sale.
Or you can lose all your money, ride the crosstown bus, and your beautiful blonde dog leaves you. Oh, the horrifying thought of another person scratching those furry ears!
There are an estimated 1.7 billion websites in the world1. Be smart about which one you buy.
I’ll explain the different types of online businesses. I helped build audiences and profits for websites that were sold. So I know what to look for when buying an online business.
I’ll tell you how to buy those online businesses – and show you where to find them.
Table of Contents
Types of Online Businesses for Sale
Buying an online business is a great way to hit the ground running as an entrepreneur.
But “online business” is a little vague. What sort of companies are we actually talking about?
Here are some types of online businesses you can buy:
- Affiliate sites. With this business model, a website includes links to affiliate products. When users click through the link and make a purchase, the site earns a commission.
- Software as a Service (SaaS). These businesses provide a digital service to subscribers.
- Ecommerce. These businesses sell products online. They can be massive (like Amazon) or tiny (like a single person selling crafts from their basement).
- Apps. There are millions2 of smartphone apps there, and some of them make big money from advertising and digital sales.
- Advertising-based sites. These websites provide valuable content for users, then make money from ads on the site.
- Subscription services. These businesses find a way to package valuable content, then sell it to subscribers. Examples include newsletters and online courses.
Keep in mind that some businesses might combine different models. For example, an ecommerce site could also have a blog that makes money from affiliate marketing and advertisements.
How to Buy an Online Business
No matter what sort of online business you decide to buy, you’ll need a plan. You can’t just find some random online business for sale and buy it on a whim. Or at least, you shouldn’t!
Here’s a 3-step plan for buying the right online business.
1. Find an Online Marketplace
The internet is full of marketplaces where people buy and sell online businesses.
You can access these sites for free, then use them to:
- Search for specific types of online businesses
- Compare different businesses on the market
- Complete the purchase
But which marketplaces are best? I’ll answer that question in the next section – so keep reading!
2. Research Individual Businesses
Buying an online business can be a really good idea. But buying an online business that you don’t know anything about? Yeah – that’s a good way to throw a lot of money away.
There are 2 words you should have tattooed across your brain: Due. Diligence.
In other words, do your homework! Don’t say your Golden Retriever ate it! It’s easier than you think when you use a reputable marketplace.
Most marketplaces will display essential information about the online businesses listed for sale. You could also use online search engines to do some deeper digging of your own.
Here are the specific factors you should consider with each business:
- Revenue. Look for businesses that make money consistently. Ask about profits.
- Web traffic. If a site isn’t attracting eyeballs, it’ll be hard to monetize.
- Operations. Find businesses that have a smart, sensible way of managing their day-to-day affairs.
- Reputation. If a business gets horrible reviews, it might be best to steer clear.
- Potential. This is a judgment call – but you might like a business’s future prospects, even if the present is a little bleak.
Huge Hint: You can really make money if you believe you can run the online business better than the current owner. How? Maybe you have an awesome team that’s better at marketing. Or you have a better sales team to sell sponsorships. Or you’re great at cutting costs to make the online business more profitable. Or perhaps the owner no longer has a passion for the business, but you do!
I helped build the audience of a website that was sold for millions of dollars. Why did they sell the site? Because the husband and wife owners felt they couldn’t get to the next level without the expert level help and capital of a bigger company.
Why did the company buy the site? Because they loved the site’s brand reputation, consistent profits, the business’ team, and they knew they could make the site even more profitable by adding their own team members who were experts in other areas.
3. Complete the Purchase
Once you’ve got your eyes set on a certain online business for sale, it’s time to make it official. Most marketplaces have a built-in process for completing the sale – so you won’t have to worry too much about the logistics.
In some cases, the platform might have you put money into “escrow.” This means a third party will hold your funds until the sale agreement has been met. That way no one runs away with your cash.
Transferring the actual site to your ownership can also be a little bit tricky – but this is another area where using a marketplace or platform should be helpful. Lots of platforms take a leading role in helping you through the process.
Where to Find an Online Business for Sale
You’re not going to just stumble upon an online business for sale. You have to go looking for one!
But luckily, you won’t have to look very hard.
There are all sorts of marketplaces and online brokers that help entrepreneurs buy and sell businesses. Many of these are ways how to make 10k a month.
Below, I’ve listed the best options.
Empire Flippers is another marketplace that’s specifically designed for online businesses.
There are a few things I love about Empire Flippers:
- The listings are curated – meaning they’re guaranteed to be legit.
- The platform has a fantastic track record with $450+ million in businesses sold.
- After you do a search, you can easily see key facts about each listing, including its monthly net profit and form of monetization.
You can check out the businesses on Empire Flippers without registering. But you'll have to make a free account to “unlock” a listing and see confidential information.
Check out online businesses for sale on Empire Flippers.
Motion Invest is an online platform for buying websites.
There are 2 types of sites listed on the platform:
- Sites owned or built by Motion Invest itself
- Sites listed by outside sellers
You should start the process by creating a Motion Invest account. That will allow you to see more specific information about each listing.
Check out websites for sale on Motion Invest.
Flippa calls itself the “#1 marketplace to buy and sell” all sorts of online ventures, including apps, SaaS businesses, digital services, and Shopify stores.
Signing up for the platform is completely free. And once you have an account, you can browse the site’s listings until you find the perfect online business.
You can also pay to get additional features. The most useful tool is probably the “Due Diligence” feature, where you pay for a detailed report on a business. The cheapest report costs $1,500 – but it’s totally worth it if it prevents you from making an even costlier mistake!
Also, Flippa has a really informative blog written by moderately handsome experts. I know because they’ve published my articles on it!
Latona’s isn’t just an online marketplace. It’s also a full-blown broker.
What does that mean? Basically, the platform will take a more active role in the sale. It also means there’s a smaller pool of listings, since you’ll only find companies that are actively working with Latona’s as a broker.
One great thing about Latona’s is that you can browse the listings without even making an account. You’ll only have to register if you want access to confidential information about a specific online business.
Keep in mind that Latona’s focuses on large businesses with higher price tags. At the time of writing this article, the “cheapest” listing is valued at $55,000.
So while it’s a go-to for heavy hitters, Latona’s isn’t the best bet if you’re hoping to start with something smaller.
Acquire.com is designed for buying and selling startups, including online businesses. It promises to simplify the buying process, allowing you to take possession of a new business in as little as 30 days.
One small issue with Acquire.com is that you have to create an account before you can view the listings. But don’t worry – all you have to do is give an email address and create a password. You can also sign up through LinkedIn.
Acquire will show you the metrics you need to conduct some initial research and put you in contact with the owner of any business you’re interested in.
Just make sure you use the search filters to look exclusively for online businesses. You wouldn’t want to start the process, then realize, “Wait – I’m supposed to manage an office across the country for this?”
Are you looking for a team of experts to walk you through the buying process? Then FE International is just what you need!
FE International doesn’t call itself a mere marketplace. No, it prefers a groovier tagline: a
“technology M&A advisory.”
With FE International, you start the buying process by scheduling a meeting with an agent. So this isn’t for the do-it-yourselfers out there!
But if you’re a first-time buyer, the more hands-on approach could be super helpful.
Facebook might not seem like a good use of time for an entrepreneur. You’re supposed to be finding an online business for sale, not scrolling through pictures of your rivals from high school and thinking to yourself how stupid and old they look now and how cool and moderately handsome you are. Oops.
But believe it or not, Facebook is a great place to spot business opportunities! You just have to join the right groups.
For example, there’s a group called “Flipping Websites” with more than 11,000 members and over 10 new posts each week.
The benefit of this strategy? It’s easy! You probably already know how to use Facebook, and you don’t have to sign up for an additional platform.
That downside? There’s virtually no oversight. That doesn’t mean you can’t use Facebook to find an online business for sale. It just means you need to double down on the due diligence.
Pros and Cons of Buying an Online Business
So now you know how to buy an online business – but is it really a good idea? The answer to that question depends on your situation.
As you're weighing the decision, take these pros and cons into account.
- You don’t have to build anything from scratch. With an existing business, you’ll already have a foundation to work with.
- You inherit existing users. A customer base is essential – and you’ll already have one.
- It might be easier to secure funding. If the business is already making money, more investors will want to get on board.
- You might have to pay more up front. You can build a business or buy it. Someone else has built it, so you’re essentially paying them for all that work they’ve done.
- You might need to renegotiate some contracts. If the business has employees, suppliers, or contractors, it could take time to iron out the details.
Common Questions About Online Business for Sale
Buy Online Business for Sale?
You can find an online business for sale through online marketplaces like Empire Flippers and Motion Invest. These platforms provide information about the businesses listed, allowing you to do some preliminary research before completing the purchase.
Online Business for Sale by Owner?
You can use marketplaces like Empire Flippers and Acquire.com to find an online business for sale by owner. These platforms facilitate the purchase, making it easy to transfer ownership of the business.
Is it a Good Idea to Buy Online Business?
Buying an online business can be a good deal. You’re buying a proven business model. Building an online business from scratch is riskier. The key to buying an online business is to have your own special sauce. You (or your team) might be able to add better marketing, sales, efficiency, or passion. Be sure to check out Empire Flippers for available listings.
Is Online Business Still Profitable?
Heck yeah! Lots of online businesses are very profitable. I’ve helped build profitable online businesses! You can sell retail goods, make money from advertising, or promote links to affiliate products. Don’t believe me? Check out any marketplace for online businesses (like Empire Flippers), and you’ll see how profitable they can be.
How Much Do Online Businesses Sell for?
An online business can sell for as much as $10 million or as little as $6. It all depends on how much the business earns. In general, you can expect the value of an online business to be about 4X the annual profits. Check out Empire Flippers for business listings.
How Do I Start a Small Online Business?
To start a small online business, your first step is to decide how you'll make money. If you plan to engage in ecommerce, you could use a platform like Shopify. If you want to publish content with ads or affiliate marketing, you should create a website using a platform like Weebly.
Online Businesses for Sale Under $5,000?
You can absolutely find an online business available for less than $5,000. You just need to use the right online marketplace! Empire Flippers and Motion Invest both have plenty of affordable listings.
Online Business for Sale Under $10000?
You can use Empire Flippers and Motion Invest, both reputable digital marketplaces, to find an online business for sale that costs less than $10,000. This is the best business to start with 10k. When I last checked, there were online businesses for sale starting at $800.
Online Businesses for Sale Under $1,000?
It might be hard to believe, but you can find online businesses for less than $1,000 – and profitable businesses, too! Just head to Flippa, a reputable online marketplace, and use the filter to set the maximum price at $1,000. You’ll find low-cost business ideas with high profit.
Online Passive Income Business for Sale?
You can use marketplaces like Motion Invest, Empire Flippers, and Flippa to find online businesses for sale. Some of these sites will make you passive income – although you’ll have to put at least a little work into the project!