10 Best Marketplaces for Buying an Online Business – Shopify

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Entrepreneurship isn’t always easy. Starting a business from the ground up can be challenging for new small business owners.

There’s a lot to think about, from developing a product and choosing a business model to finding your audience—not to mention startup costs and the huge time commitment necessary to make it work. If you want a business but don’t want to start from scratch, there’s another option: buying an already established business. 

Caveat: This doesn’t mean buying a business is less work, it just means you don’t have to start from ground zero. Here are the ways soon-to-be business owners can buy an existing business that’s ready to go. 

10 best marketplaces for buying an online business

Searching for a profitable online business for sale? Look no further than these ten platforms that let you browse, evaluate, and compare online businesses to buy. 

  1. Flippa
  2. Empire Flippers
  3. Side Projectors
  4. Niche Investor
  5. Motion Invest
  6. Business Exits
  7. Latona’s 
  8. Acquire.com
  9. BuySellEmpire 
  10. BizBuySell

1. Flippa 

Screenshot of Flippa’s website with navy blue background and white text

Flippa lets you browse SaaS companies, ecommerce brands, blogs, and affiliate sites that are up for sale, showing you their monthly revenue and how they make their money. 

2. Empire Flippers

Screenshot of Empire Flippers’ website, with blue background, orange buttons, and an image of the marketplace

Empire Flippers is a cross between a marketplace and a brokerage. You can explore businesses for sale in different niches, filtering by monetization style and price. 

3. Side Projectors 

Screenshot of Side Projectors’ website with checklist and listings for small online businesses

Side Projectors specializes in sharing side projects, from SaaS businesses to ecommerce brands and mobile apps. Prices are on the cheaper side, because the projects tend to be smaller. 

4. Niche Investor

Screenshot of Niche Investors’ website with a dark blue faded background and white text

Niche Investor focuses on listing blogs and profitable websites that are up for sale. Listings provide background information about the business, as well as monthly revenue and the monetization method in place. 

5. Motion Invest 

Screenshot of Motion Invest’s website with a black background, white text, green buttons and a graphic of the listings

Browse websites in a variety of different niches and industries and get hands-on support from the Motion Invest team before, during, and after your purchase. 

6. Business Exits 

Screenshot of Business Exits’ website, featuring a pale blue background, navy text, and a birds-eye-view video of a boat circling a luxury house

Business Exits showcases highly profitable businesses for sale in a variety of niches. Compare revenue and yearly income across a range of industries. 

7. Latona’s 

Screenshot of Latona’s website with a filterable search option

Latona’s is more of a brokerage than a marketplace, but it still lets you browse listings that are up for sale, with a range of detailed filtering options. 

8. Acquire.com 

Screenshot of Acquire.com’s website with pale purple background and navy text.

Acquire.com helps connect buyers and sellers in the SaaS and startup spaces. Through the platform, you can track startup metrics and evaluate future potential to help make a decision. 

9. BuySellEmpire

Screenshot of BuySellEmpire’s website with a pastel geometric background, navy text, and hot pink buttons.

Browse hundreds of listings on BuySellEmpire in various categories, from ecommerce stores and SaaS membership businesses to affiliate sites and Amazon FBA businesses. 

10. BizBuySell

BizBuySell homepage showing user searching for online businesses in New York

BizBuySell is the internet’s largest business for sale marketplace. You can browse specifically for online businesses or franchises. Search by city, county, or sale and checkout the hundreds of thousands of established businesses ready to be sold.

Is it a good idea to buy an online business? 

If you’d rather leave the ideas side of things to others, buying a currently thriving business can have plenty of benefits. 

  • Stronger foundation: the initial stages of getting the business up and running (which are often time-consuming and thankless) are already done
  • Easier funding: it can be easier to secure financing for a business that has a proven track record 
  • Pre-established customer base: if it’s been generating revenue for a while, it’s a safe bet that the business has an existing customer base and a proven product market fit
  • Pre-existing brand awareness: there’s less effort needed to raise awareness of the brand and build its reputation
  • Ready-to-go team: if there are existing employees, you have a premade team ready and waiting to go 
  • Solved problems: the original owners will have discovered many of the businesses’ problems and friction points and (hopefully!) solved them, so you don’t have to
  • Reliable income: there’s already the potential for a reliable income to capitalize on if the business is doing well 

What are the cons of buying an online business?

  • Large upfront sum: you often need to invest a large amount of money upfront to buy an existing successful business. While prices vary, you can safely assume that an existing business that’s doing well will require a chunk of cash to buy
  • Renegotiated contracts: depending on the type of business and contracts the previous owners have signed, you may need to renegotiate any outstanding deals with suppliers, vendors, influencers, and other key stakeholders
  • Unknown reason for sale: Why is the existing owner selling? Will this impact what you can do with the business or its future? 
  • Difficulty making a mark: it might take some work to turn the business into your own, since it will already come with a reputation and existing preconceptions 

What should you look for when buying an online business? 

There are 33.1 million small businesses in the US alone and an estimated 26.5 million ecommerce businesses around the world. That’s a lot of established businesses and a lot of choices.

So what should you look for when choosing a business to buy? 

Consistent financials 

You don’t want to buy a dud. Ideally, any business you’re looking to buy should be able to show consistent month-on-month revenue or at least the potential to reach a consistent level. The seller should have no problem sharing the business’s financials with you—in fact, this is a must-do before you even consider putting pen to paper and signing a contract. 

Existing reputation

It can be difficult to turn around a negative opinion of a business, which is why it’s a much better option to go for a brand that has an existing positive reputation. Check out reviews on sites like Trustpilot, scroll through the brand’s social channels, and listen to what people are saying about it online. 

Current operations

Take a look at the business’s current operations. If they look rusty or outdated, it could spell a problem—it can take time and resources to change things around. Smaller businesses will have less established operations, but they should still have processes in place for key parts of the workflow, like shipping and integrated tech stacks. 

Consistent traffic

Online businesses rely on website traffic to stay afloat. The more traffic a site has, the more potential customers it has and the more money it can make. When choosing a business to buy, look for steady growth and consistent traffic from multiple sources. The last thing you want to do is rely on traffic from one source that will dry up as soon as algorithms change. 

Future potential 

A business might be thriving right now, but what about in a few months or a few years? It’s important to assess the future potential of the business—for example, look at whether its bestseller is a seasonal item or whether the products it sells are a current craze that will go out of fashion soon. 

Future customer base

While a business’s current customer base might be very healthy, take a look at where there’s room for expansion. Who exactly is it targeting and is that market close to being maxed out? Consider if there’s room to move into different markets and locations too. 

General feedback

Knowing what customers think about a business can make or break your decision to buy it. Consider the kinds of positive feedback it gets, as well as common complaints. Basically, what do existing customers like and dislike about it? And, when it comes to dislikes, think about what it might take for you to turn that around. 

What types of online businesses should you buy? 

The term “online business” covers all manner of business models, but the most common types of businesses you can buy include: 

  • SaaS brands 
  • Ecommerce companies
  • Dropshipping brands 
  • Affiliate sites
  • Mobile apps
  • Productized services
  • Blogs/content sites 
  • Subscription businesses
  • Digital product businesses

How do you get a great deal on an online business? 

You don’t want your money to go to waste, right? Here’s how you can make sure you’re getting the most for your dollars. 

Look far and wide

Casting a wide net can help you find businesses you might not have considered. Use a mixture of the methods mentioned above to source potential businesses to purchase and compare prices, revenue, and other key factors. 

Rate opportunities quickly 

Use a set of criteria to measure the opportunity of each potential business without wasting too much time. For example, you might rate each of the following elements out of 10: 

  • Cashflow
  • Growth potential
  • The reason for selling
  • Hours needed to invest
  • Existing reputation and customer base
  • Longevity 

A business that rates high in all these areas will come with a higher price tag, but you’ll know that it comes with robust revenue and the potential for growth. 

Do your due diligence

Look into legalities around the business, including taxes and operations, and find any problem areas before you go into negotiation. The more information you have, the more informed you can be with your offer.

Negotiate

The listed price isn’t always set in stone for most businesses. Depending on the opportunity rating you’ve given a business and the information you found out during the research stage, you can go into negotiations with the seller to get a better deal. 

Tips for buying an online business safely 

Owners sell online businesses mostly through marketplaces, but that doesn’t mean there’s zero risk. There’s the potential for getting scammed and making the wrong choice. To make sure you’re doing things safely, consider the following:

  • Carry out thorough research beforehand.
  • Speak to past customers and employees to verify the business model.
  • Check financials and other key documents with a fine-tooth comb.
  • Consult a solicitor or lawyer to help you with the process and paperwork.
  • Ignore aspirational pitches and stick to the facts.
  • Find out why the business is for sale. 
  • Speak to suppliers to confirm existing contracts and deals.
  • Be cautious! 

Buying an existing online business can reap huge rewards. It means you don’t have to start from scratch and can piggyback off the success of a pre-established brand that’s already proven its audience, product, and market fit.

However, it’s important to carry out due diligence and create a business plan to make sure you get a good return on your investment.

Buy online business FAQ

How do you safely buy an online business?

You can safely buy an online business through the following marketplaces:

  • Flippa 
  • Empire Flippers
  • Side Projectors 
  • Niche Investor
  • Motion Invest
  • Business Exits
  • Latona’s
  • Acquire.com
  • BuySellEmpire 
  • BizBuySell

Can I buy an online store?

Yes, you can buy an online store. Platforms like Flippa and Acquire sell ready-to-use ecommerce businesses.

What is the fastest online business to make money?

The fastest online business to make money involves dropshipping or selling digital products. These business models require low upfront costs and can be set up quickly to start making money. 

Is buying an online business risky?

Buying an online business can be risky. To make sure you’re purchasing legitimate businesses online, carry out thorough research beforehand and check financials and other key documents. Make sure to talk to a lawyer to help you with the process and paperwork so you find the best business for you.

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