My name is Evan and this story begins with losing my job at a tech company in April of 2019. After decompressing for a few weeks, I jumped on LinkedIn and Glassdoor, searching for new full-time opportunities. While browsing the listings, not exactly smitten with any of the potential positions, that familiar entrepreneurial itch, the one that’s lived towards the back of my head for years, began to scratch away at me.
I had started companies before, and although it had been a while, I began to think about how I could do again. This time I considered entering the eCommerce space. A few things were beckoning me to this digital, startup lifestyle. First and foremost, the thought that I could work from the comfort of home, along with my three dogs who would keep me company all day felt like a dream. Secondly, I would be my own boss. I wouldn’t have to report into an overbearing manager, deal with the typical, corporate company structure and office politics, or waste my day sitting in meetings, tapping my pen on the desk when I could be home doing the things that I love. Finally, if my wife and I wanted to move out of Los Angeles at some point, these online businesses could move with us!
Out of curiosity, while continuing to peruse the job ads on Indeed, I started searching online for businesses that I could either start from scratch or purchase from another entrepreneur.
The Hunt For An Online Business
I quickly discovered several sources for acquiring existing businesses: Flippa, BizBuySell, Empire Flippers, even Shopify has its marketplace for buying existing Shopify stores. Meanwhile, my wife, Dawn, who has a full-time job in entertainment, was getting excited when I showed her all of these unique little businesses for sale. She is a huge horror movie fan and we just so happened to stumble upon an 18-year-old WordPress website listed for sale on Flippa. Michael-Myers.net, a website dedicated to the HALLOWEEN franchise and the sale of Michael Myers masks and costumes. Silly perhaps, but this really piqued our curiosity.
My wife and I were both unsure about what we were doing. We had plenty of business and technology experience, but had never wandered down the road towards buying an existing online business and all of the sudden we found ourselves driving down that road, full speed ahead.
We read more about Flippa and how it all works. We liked how they had a lot of safeguards in place like escrow accounts, so your money is safe until you are sure that everything has been transferred. They seemed to have a long track record of successfully assisting and facilitating the sale/purchase of businesses and transferring the assets, so we set up an account. Once we had an account, we were able to read more about the site and dive into the numbers. It was fairly simple process and it was oddly exhilarating. It harkened to that day in elementary school when your teacher took you to the library for the first time. You’re toured through the seemingly endless aisles of colorful books, given a laminated card with your name on it, and given permission to take anything that you want, right off the shelf, home with you to enjoy.
Making Our First Digital Acquisition
While this adventure started as my own, it was my horror film loving wife who wound up making the first move, reaching out to the seller directly, having a great, in-depth conversation about the business. She took a couple of days to consider the opportunity and ran some numbers to forecast what the costs and revenue would be going forward. After careful consideration, she placed an offer. A brief negotiation followed, and several hours later, the business was hers!
The process of transferring all of the assets and paying for the business was very straight forward. The hardest part was transferring all the accounts into her name, but nothing was outrageous, it all just took time. The hosting service, domain provider, email provider, social credentials, PayPal account, and vendor accounts all needed to be updated with new contact and payment information. We were incredibly lucky as the previous owner was absolutely amazing and helpful, being sure nothing was left undone, walking us through the processes when needed. Dawn has even continued to stay in touch with the original owner and speaks with him for advice from time to time. At this point, she has expanded the product line on the site and maintains a robust user base in the forum she acquired as part of the deal.
Addicted To Digital Entrepreneurship
Excited by the thrill of the hunt, we kept browsing these sites to see what else we might find. Then, just a couple of weeks later, we came across Tailthreads.com on Flippa. This is a site that sells custom clothing with your pet’s face printed on them, as well as other great pet-themed clothing and accessories. As animal lovers, we couldn’t stop ourselves from snagging it and making it our joint venture. We purchased it from the founders and, with their help, slowly learned the ins and outs of the business. We are now launching new products and expanding some marketing partnerships in order to grow the business model.
Soon after that purchase, even with all of the new responsibilities and stresses that come with business ownership, and while still working a full-time job, Dawn decided to double down and expand her business to other franchises with a brand new Shopify store, Classic Horror Shop. Both horror shops are a ton of work, but so much fun. Dawn runs the business, deals with the suppliers and customers, ships orders, and does all of the social marketing. I lend a hand on the tech front and add some muscle for moving inventory in our garage and with setting up trade shows. She is incredibly proud of her 100% woman-owned and operated business and tries to work with other women with small businesses to help promote one another.
My Own Acquisition of an Online Business
A few weeks later, I was having lunch with a friend, complaining about the job market and how I couldn’t find anything that I was interested in pursuing. He mentioned that he was looking to sell his online web design and development business, Designpax. I was immediately intrigued. I’ve owned a design agency in the past, but that was more of a B2B company and didn’t sell services online. After thinking about it for a few weeks, having been striking out on the job hunt, and not to be outdone by my wife, I decided to buy it.
The business has been a labor of love. I immersed myself in getting to know the existing clients and employees and understanding the inherited workflows & service offerings. After getting a better handle on things, and with a vision on where I wanted to take the business, I launched a completely new website on Shopify. The prior site was on an ancient code base and not maintainable. I kickstarted my marketing efforts, focused on SEO, and expanded our services – specializing in design and coding for Banner Ads, Email Newsletters, Landing Pages, Shopify Sites, WordPress Themes, Logos, and more.
Now that we seem to have a handle on our multiple storefronts, I’m looking at purchasing two online training businesses. This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. Buying and running an online business has been incredibly stressful, takes up all our free time, has sucked money out of our savings, and it certainly hasn’t netted us millions of dollars…yet.
In the end, is it worth it?
If you love being challenged; if you like learning new things; if you like the high of getting traction and sales, then yes. It has been incredibly rewarding. If you are averse to risk, don’t like dealing with customers, and don’t want to get your hands dirty on almost every level of business, then this might not be for you. And that’s okay. It isn’t the life for everyone.
If you do decide to make the leap, make sure you use a reputable business broker like Flippa. I’ll even help you out with a quick search of some affordable eCommerce stores like the ones that we’ve purchased ourselves. Our purchases were relatively modest, but if you’re looking at purchasing a more expensive business, you want a service that looks out for you and has a history in doing this successfully. Questions about our journey? Drop us a line: Designpax or Classic Horror Shop