Invest in (Online) Businesses Instead of Traditional Investments

One thing meditation has helped me do, is step a bit outside of the narrow line of thinking that is ingrained in us.  I do think a lot about investment and something just doesn’t sit right with me.

Recently I opened up an online investment account, fully intended to do the “recommended” thing of buying several diversified index funds to “track the market”.  This would be money that I would put away and basically never touch again.  At best I could hope for about 5-7% return per annum.

This is what we are supposed to do.  People go to university and study for years how to properly do asset allocation.

The thing is though, the world has changed.

Once, it was very difficult to start a business.  You needed a lot of capital, you’d need to beg a bank to lend you money.

These days you can start a business from your laptop, run it from anywhere in the world and hire an army of freelance workers from sites like Upwork, while you rake in a passive income stream.

Nowadays, I’m fully involved in growing our social casino business, Megarama.  But a long time ago when I was just starting out in business I created a couple of interesting little experiments that have returned an amazing ROI (small amount of cash, but nice return).

One was a website I created which was really an effort to SEO another site.  It’s basically an informational site for doctors in Israel who are interested to learn aesthetic medicine and in particular Botox administration for cosmetic use.

The site looks like the most crappy site you’ve ever seen, built on Google Sites.  I can’t remember how long it took me to create, but it wasn’t a massive effort (couple of days??).  I spent a bit of money on SEO for the site – can’t remember how much but probably around $200.

It didn’t take too long before my site was ranking #1, 2 and 3 for the key very niche search terms (in hebrew) for “botox course for doctors”.  I put a crappy email form on the site and started to collect leads.  Then I reached out to a number of people who were running such courses and came to an agreement regarding selling leads (again, wasn’t hard).

This was about 4 years ago I think.  Since I signed the lead selling agreement the site has consistently been making over $500 per month. Again, not significant. But the effort that went into it was not huge, the cost was minimal.  Lets say I spent around $500 and my time was worth lets say $100 per hour at the time (3 days work lets say), that’s a cost to launch the site of about $3,000.  The return on this is $6,000 per year, or 200%!!!! 

That is a hell of a lot better than a 5% return per annum.

(Oh, and BTW, the ONLY work I do on this site is send a monthly invoice. I LITERALLY do no other work).

It’s my personal experience that these online, passive sources of income can have tremendous longevity. Obviously each business is different, but there are ways to maximize longevity and minimize risk.

I’m just using this as a case in point.  I had a similar outcome with another small website I created around the same time.

 

The concept for these online business investment vehicles would be as follows:

(1) It needs to be TOTALLY hands off. i.e. I need a team of people who can execute on my ideas. Obviously there will be initial set up costs. But imagine that you could put together this team… To use an old cliche, “where there is a will, there is a way”.

(2) The system needs to be able to scale.  You need to find a repeatable business model that works and then be able to pour lots of money into it and see commensurate returns.

And there are two ways you can go about it:

(1) You can start a business from scratch. 

OR

(2) You can buy existing businesses (hopefully undervalued) and then uncover value to further improve the ROI.

Consider for a moment that you are able to build the team and system which can execute this with minimal or no daily involvement from yourself, in terms of ROI you can’t even compare it to any other asset class.

Especially if these are businesses you understand and have a degree of control over, the risk as I see it is minimal compared to riding the waves of the market.

Here are some interesting articles for further reading on the topic:

“Why a Website Should Be Your Next Investment”

“How To Invest In Websites In Your Spare Time”

“I was given $25k to invest in websites; here’s what I did : Entrepreneur”

“How to Sell an Amazon FBA Business”

Marketplaces or Brokers

Here is a list of some marketplaces and brokers for buy and selling various types of online businesses. Mind you, probably the best deals would be found “in the wild” and not on these sites.  It is doable for sure.

Fliptopia

App Business Brokers

Flippa

FE International  (This company also offers management services…)

Empire Flippers

Jungle Flippers

 

Author: David Janner

David Janner is a former M.D. and the Editor-in-Chief of MAKE APP Magazine. His passion is app development and app marketing. You should follow him on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ in order to get the most important industry related news, hot off the press. If you would like to arrange a 15 minute app marketing session to discuss your App Store Optimization strategy, contact him here.

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