You go out there and provide your services, and your client pays you. However, this isn’t the only service business model there is.
With the birth of the internet, we’ve seen a whole new industry arise: online business.
Expanding Your Brand’s Reach Across Borders Through a Site
The magic of online business is that it has low barriers to entry, it’s global, it offers freedom not quite as attainable with offline business, and it is infinitely scalable.
The biggest benefit to you is the low barrier to entry.
With the invention of website builders, any Joe Bloggs can now build their own website. You can grow your offline services business by marketing your brand online. This is a great way to build authority in your niche and get you to that pinnacle where leads begin coming to you.
If you aren’t feeling confident starting a website on your own, a great alternative online lead generation strategy is to use a service like Handshakin. Matt and his team will build a site that clearly conveys your services’ benefits without unnecessary fluff. This is a great way to expand your reach online without having to quickly learn any online skills.
If you are intrigued by the idea of building your own website, however, it won’t be difficult to monetize.
Take the affiliate marketing business model, for example. You build a basic website, write articles, and post them on the site. In the articles you link to other businesses, and every time someone reads your article, clicks the link, and becomes a customer of the business, you earn a commission.
There’s a bit more to it, of course, but that’s the basic concept of how that business model works.
The other alternative is to buy an already established website, but we’ll discuss this later on.
You can develop the skills needed to build and monetize websites pretty easily with the vast amount of educational information on the internet.
When you have this ability in your toolbelt, it opens up a world of opportunities.
Not only can you create a hands-off source of income for yourself, or multiple sources of income, but you can also build a reputation as an expert in an industry or niche.
As your online business grows and becomes more profitable, new opportunities will allow you to partner with big money investors and step into the big leagues!
Building a Personal Brand Online
When you have built multiple online businesses, those businesses serve as a portfolio, i.e., your online entrepreneurial CV.
Being able to build and grow websites and online businesses is a skill that big investors will invest a lot of money in. Building profitable online businesses from scratch is proof that your skills and knowledge are the real deal.
And this spells opportunity for you.
How? Because investors will see your proven track record in building certain types of digital assets and want to partner with you so you can manage the online businesses they add to their investment portfolios.
With these types of partnerships, you can acquire and step into a big business in the $500K+ range, or you can manage a portfolio of businesses.
How it works is you will set a criteria for a business you’d like to invest in; for example, if you have been building ecommerce businesses, your criteria might look like this:
You would consider the skills you’ve built in creating ecommerce businesses to set your criteria. If you have skills in paid advertising, then you may want to make sure that the business you purchase has a profit margin that would allow you to reinvest 20–40% of the revenue into advertising.
Your motivation to enter an operator-investor partnership is you gain access to funds so you can buy a business you usually couldn’t afford. With the backing of an investor, or multiple investors, you can acquire a bigger business that earns more profit.
Once you’ve acquired and scaled the business, you’ll sell the business for a higher price than the initial investment. You, the investor, and the broker, if you use one for this type of deal, will all take a cut of the business exit.
The end game for you is to build an online business portfolio with case studies of operator-investor projects you’ve successfully scaled. With this portfolio, you can get into larger partnerships and acquire larger businesses and thus make more money.
What’s In It for the Investor?
With these types of partnerships, the investor is looking for passive income from an online business. This gives them the opportunity to profit from online businesses without having to learn the skills needed to run them and without having to take the time to run the businesses themselves.
Usually, they are looking to build an investment portfolio consisting of multiple businesses so they can diversify the risk of their investments.
They are very aware that online businesses are high-risk, high-reward investments. Online businesses will sit in the alternative investments category with the investor’s stocks, real estate, and other investments.
They are also aware that you, as the operator, have personal equity in the business, so they know it is in your best interest to scale the business successfully for a healthy ROI.
When assessing you as an operator, they look for particular skill sets and experience.
What Investors Look for
As you can imagine, there are many different online business models that require specific skill sets, and some are transferable to all business models.
The three main online business model categories are ecommerce, content, and other businesses.
Ecommerce is online retail.
With this type of business, you need to be able to find and successfully launch winning products. This ability requires skills in product and keyword research, i.e., researching market demand and finding products that meet that demand.
You can also sell desirable products that don’t necessarily solve a problem, yet the market still shows signs that people want this product. As long as the product isn’t in a fad niche, such as fidget spinners, for example, then you’ll have a better chance of success.
While you’ll be purchasing a business that is already selling a particular product, you need the skills listed above so you can identify whether a business is selling a product that is evergreen, and whether the business is selling a quality product that carries out a function that satisfies customers.
Another skill with this type of business model that investors will be looking for is inventory management.
The inventory delivery system is the lifeblood of an ecommerce business. This involves being able to create and manage these systems, finding reliable manufacturers and storage units, making calculated inventory orders and avoiding stockouts, and finding distribution centers that can fulfill orders in the country you’re selling in.
Content in the online business world is any type of media. The main forms are text, such as articles and visuals like graphics or videos, and audio, such as podcasts.
Content sites are essentially media companies, and they are monetized through the content—articles, videos, and other forms of media—it displays.
With this type of business, your abilities need to be focused on content creation, search engine optimization (SEO), keyword research, and product/services research.
You must be able to produce a type of media, predominantly articles, to be successful with this business model. You can produce the content yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Either way, you need to be able to do this, as a content site is built on content.
Related to this, you need to be able to find content that the market is in demand for. This is where keyword research comes in.
Keyword research is the process of finding what people are looking for online. This gives you an indication of what is popular right now. As with all business models, both online and offline, it’s about supply and demand. Keyword research is the process of finding what’s in demand, and content creation is about the supply of that demand.
When you’ve conducted your keyword research and you’re producing content, the next step is to get your site noticed on search engines like Google. SEO is the process of increasing your site’s ranking for particular topics, i.e., the keywords people are searching on search engines.
The final step is to find the products or services related to the niche that you can market to.
For example, if you have a site that is about cat beds, then you look for sites that sell cat beds and create content about their products. In your content, you link to their site, and when one of your readers clicks through the link and purchases the product, the company that sells the product will pay you a commission on the sale.
Being able to find relevant products or services that are in demand and that are of high-quality is a skill crucial to the success of a content business.
Other Online Businesses
There are a few online business models that fit into the “other” category, but the most common is the software as a service (SaaS) model.
A SaaS is a piece of software that is hosted on the cloud. This eliminates the need for your own physical computer system to host your own software. Examples of SaaS include Gmail, Zoom, and Xero.
If you have an IT background or some website development experience, then you have an advantage, as operators of SaaS businesses are harder to find than operators of other business models. They require specialist skills that aren’t easy to attain.
Furthermore, SaaS businesses are a highly desirable asset. This is because they are based on a subscription payment service, which means they generate recurring revenue—the gold standard in online business.
The main skill required to successfully run a SaaS business is website development. You have to keep on top of the software to make sure it’s functioning, as it’s the functionality of the software that customers rely on for the service.
Another skill that a lot of SaaS owners struggle with is pricing. It’s difficult to know how to price a completely new service, as you have no point of reference.
However, the pricing of a SaaS can see the business soar or collapse. Having the ability to set the pricing to a point where it’s financially viable, i.e., not too low priced where you make a loss and not too highly priced where people won’t pay for the service, is crucial to the success of a SaaS business.
Naturally, we have to mention lead generation in this article!
In its most basic form, lead gen sites provide a commission to the owners for every lead they provide for other businesses. However, how each lead gen business defines what a lead is varies. One company will only qualify a lead if someone had a 1-minute phone conversation after completing a form, while another company will qualify a lead after a prospect fills out the “Contact Us” typeform.
Lead gen businesses typically focus helping other businesses in specific geographic locations.
There are a few advantages with this business model over a client-based approach, since you get paid for each lead you generate instead of whether your client is happy with your work. However, lead gen businesses need to generate quality traffic for someone to actually qualify as a lead.
Your SEO skills need to be on point so you can target hyperlocal traffic with your geo-specific offers. Understanding how Google My Business can give you a huge advantage in procuring leads for your clients when combined with SEO.
For a strategic buyer, your lead gen business could be just what they’re looking for to grow their overall business.
In-demand Skills for All Types of Businesses
While the skills we’ve discussed above are specific to particular online business models, there are skills applicable to all online businesses, such as the following:
The investors who fund your project will be looking for the skills listed above.
If they want to add an ecommerce business to their online business portfolio, they’ll check to see you have the relevant skills and experience to be able to manage and grow their investment.
This is why it’s better for you to niche down to one type of business model and become an expert in that area. You’ll build a more solid portfolio that will attract more investors, as opposed to trying to grow multiple types of businesses, which will lead to a weaker portfolio, as you’ll have less experience in each business model than other competing operators.
If you’re looking to partner with someone to help you build up your site so it commands a high DR, check out Handshakin’s Partner Program. You’ll work with a standout sales team and a group of SEO ninjas to inject growth into your site so your online presence can really spread and reach a wider audience than before.
Finding Investors to Partner With
Once you’ve built up your portfolio, the next step is to build your personal brand to attract investors.
You should start by going to places that have the contacts you’re looking for.
There are online communities related to online business buying and selling, including Facebook groups. Being active in these communities offers you the opportunity to connect with prospective investors and build a name for yourself.
It is important to note, however, that by doing this, you’re going out into the wild. There are no regulations in these communities, and any deal you make with an investor you are 100% responsible for, so you should have the legal backing of a lawyer to help reduce the chances of the deal falling through.
We would recommend going through a broker with a suitable program who can act as a middleman for the deal and ensure that nothing illegal happens. But not all brokers are made equal; make sure you find a reputable broker who has the best interests of buyers and sellers so a fair deal can be worked out. If you’re interested in entering into an operator-investor partnership, check out a new program recently launched called EF Capital.
You’ll meet investors with deep pockets who want to build a scalable portfolio filled with digital assets. They’ll need someone with the right skills to help them manage all the businesses, including buying, improving, and selling.
Instead of raising funds through an FBA loan or raising funds through other routes like high-interest loans, you can start buying digital assets that would usually be out of your budget in a partnership with investors. Entering this kind of arrangement accelerates your journey to start flipping online businesses for a profit.
Whether you build a website to grow your online presence for your offline business or you build your personal brand as an online business operator, building a website and developing those skills can help you grow your wealth.
If you decide to sell your offline business, your website is an additional asset that can increase the sale price of your business. While building and selling websites in and of itself is a way to create a second source of income, building your own brand is a way to leverage that success to enter the big leagues of online business.
To learn more about the Handshaking Partner Program, read this blog.
Visit Empire Flippers to learn more about how to invest in online businesses passively.