Ep 265: How To Sell Your Business For The Highest Multiple with Ron Stefanski

Selling your business can be challenging but rewarding. So how do you sell it for the highest multiple?

Today Ron Stefanski will be joining us to share his insights about selling an online business. He is an internet entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses. You can learn more about Ron by visiting onehourprofessor.com.

Jaryd and Ron have discussed building a portfolio and AI content. They also talked about when to sell your website, selling sites (what to do to get set up for a great sale), financials, add backs and content expenses and listing fees.

Lastly, Ron gave advice for staying in the game of business and not burning out.

If you want to sell your online business, check out this episode to find out!

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Episode Highlights

05:30 Should you worry about AI?

13:00 Why do you need to be cautious when owning multiple sites?

20:30 What are the content website expenses?

34:30 How to be a successful business owner?

41:30 What’s next for Ron?

Courses & Training

Courses & Training

Key Takeaways

➥ Jaryd Krause and Ron Stefanski discuss the growing importance of authority in 2024, emphasizing the significance of quality content and strategic site structure. They touch on AI content creation, acknowledging its potential but cautioning that it requires careful prompting and extensive editing to ensure quality. 

Ron shares his perspective on content expenses, considering them as past investments when selling a site. He suggests transparency in communicating with buyers about the site’s history and the flexibility they have in making decisions regarding content expenses. 

Ron stresses the importance of avoiding selling on a downward trend, emphasizing the need for solid financials and trimming unnecessary expenses. He suggests that reducing costs can lead to a significant return when selling a site.

 

About The Guest

Ron Stefanski is an internet entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses. You can learn more about Ron by visiting OneHourProfessor.com.

Connect with Ron Stefanski

Transcription:

Jaryd Krause:

How do you know when it's the right time to sell your business? Hi, I'm Jaryd Krause. I'm the host of the Buying Online Businesses Podcast. And today I'm speaking with Ron Stefanski, who is an internet entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses.

Now, Ron has made a bunch of money in this space. He has built many sites. And in this podcast episode, Ron and I talk about the portfolio of websites that he has actually built. We talk about why he hasn't bought any sites before, why he's gone the building route. Then we talk about AI content, the revolution of AI content and how it's not as gnarly as most people think it is.

We also talk about how you know when it's the right time to sell your website? We talk about the 11 websites he had in his portfolio, what he learned from having a portfolio of 11 websites, and what you should be doing to get your business set up for selling a business at the highest possible multiple.

We talk about things like understanding finances and what you should do with your finances. We talk about add backs and content expenses and the arguments on both sides of content expense, SEO, add backs and whatnot. We talk about listing fees with different places you can sell your sites, what might be right for you in terms of selling your own business.

And we talk a lot about Ron's experience owning 11 website businesses and what he would do again if he were starting from scratch. We talk about what you can learn from him as well to stay in the game, the online business game, and earn great money without getting burned out.

Now, there's so much value in this podcast episode. Before we got stuck in, I did talk a lot about buyingonlinebusinesses.co/sellyourbusiness. There'll be a link in the show notes. And if you're buying a business, make sure you don't go away and do it yourself.

Get some help. Get the framework that I and all my clients use that takes the guesswork out of buying businesses. It’s very well known. It's an industry standard. A lot of people use it. So you can get that at buyingonlinebusiness.com/freeresources. Now, let's dive into the pod.

Do you have a website you might want to sell, either now or in the future? We have a hungry list of cashed up and trained up buyers that want to buy your content website. If you have a site making over $300 per month and want to sell it, head to buyingonlinebusinesses.co/sellyourbusiness. Or email us at [email protected], because we will likely have a buyer. The details are in the description.

Ron, welcome back to the podcast.

Ron Stefanski:

Jaryd, thanks for having me. Appreciate it. I'm happy to be here.

Jaryd Krause:

Oh, I'm excited. I'm excited to chat. It's always good to talk to somebody that you have connected with many times, have very familiar journeys with, and do similar things in the space. So it's going to be a good chat. And everybody that is listening, go back to Episode 89, where Ron came on to talk about how to run, manage and grow content websites.

We talked about a bunch in that, which is very valuable. I even came to your YouTube channel. We talked about money mindsets and stuff, which I'm sure we're going to dig into today. But yeah, welcome back.

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah, no, thanks. Like I said, thanks for having me. I am excited to be here and catch up.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. So I wanted to get you on to talk about selling sites because I know that you've sold a bunch in the last year—websites. Eventually, we'll get to mindset stuff as well for new beginners getting into the space. But have you bought sites before? I don't think I've asked you this before.

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. No, I'm really weird about buying sites just because you don't know where they came from. So I'm always one of those that I've always wanted to build from scratch. Honestly, I think that's to my detriment. I think that it would probably be a good idea to buy sites at times.

But I never took the leap just because I had a lot of sites that I grew and the ones that I was slowly growing were growing as the bigger ones as I was optimizing them. So I didn't really need to because I kind of filled up a whole portfolio, if you will.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, yeah. And so, up until this point, let's just give a quick cap of your growth strategy. What's 80% of what you've been able to do to grow your content sites before selling them?

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. So, I mean, it goes back to what everyone says; I feel pretty much. Well, I didn't actually write the content, but I've had a lot of people just create content and I would focus on some backlink campaigns here and there. It kind of depends on what the niche is. I feel like for some of them, you need a lot of links. For some of you, you don't need any links. So I'm doing a lot of things around that.

Now, I still have two websites that I'm actively working on and I'm getting knee deep into all the AI content, edited with people, but AI content production, and we're churning out a lot more content that way. It's a lot more cost effective, but it's just kind of a different beast.

But yeah, I have two sites that are doing that now. So it's all about creating the content first. That's important. Making sure that the content quality is there. And then I don't care what anyone says. You always have to get some links. You just have to, especially nowadays.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, absolutely. We've seen that more than ever now, coming into 2024 with authority and stuff like that. It’s been so, so important. Now, quickly on the AI content. It's awesome. It's really cool to use. A lot of people get really, really worried about it.

And you should be worried about it if you don't know how to prompt it right and get it edited in a format that is really awesome for people. I think a lot of people are worried about it, like, “Oh, no, we can do more scale and everybody's AI is just going to write it itself.” The reality is, it's not as hands-off as people believe to get the quality that you want.

Ron Stefanski:

Yes. I absolutely agree with that. So my strategy, for the most part, we're producing 15 to 20 articles per week for each site that we have. And the prompting—I think you hit the nail on the head. That's the biggest thing.

I mean, I create extremely in-depth outlines and I prompt every set of that outline and everything I could possibly do within that outline, including telling the AI, “You have to include external links, this, that, and the other.”

There are a lot of things. I mean, I don't even know if five to 10 hours go into each template, I'd say. And then basically I take that particular template and I say, “Okay, now that we've created a template that'll work, here's the 200, 300 pieces of content that will fit into this template.” And then we're basically off and running with AI with that.

And then, like I said, I mean, some people are just like, they type something into ChatGPT or whatever they copy and paste, they put it in. That's not what this is. So we do the template; we put a lot of work into that. After the output comes out, I have a virtual assistant that then takes it and puts it into an article.

And then I have a human editor go through and make sure all the links are right. Because half the time they aren’t. Make sure all the statistics are accurate. Because most of the time, those aren't. Adding images, all that kind of stuff.

So there is still some heavy lifting that goes into it. It's more cost effective, but at the same time, it's not hands off. I don't think it ever will be. But yeah, because we've been able to scale up content so much, I've been doing a lot more around site architecture, like silos and really focused on that as well. That's been a really, really big thing that I've been focusing on, and we'll see how it goes. But so far, it's been pretty good. One of the sites is doing really well. The other site is doing okay.

Jaryd Krause:

I like that you mentioned two things. One being that it's never going to be hands off in terms of content creation. Think about somebody who produces not just content but also a product; it could be a physical product, a service or whatever it is. The best ones typically have the most human touch and thought process behind them.

And then you also said, when you're adding more volume of content, to have the site structure the right way, so you'd not just create so much content that Google's like, “I don't know where to find it or how to find it.” And humans don't know either. So I think it's really cool that you've said you've been working on that site structure to ensure it can be found and that it's content that's worthy of being found and ranked.

We don't need to make this an AI content discussion. There's 7 billion of those around with the FOMO link to it, which we're not going to do. So I'm really curious to hear about your thinking process and decision-making around selling a site. Because there are people listening that they either own sites or like, “When's the right time for me to sell?” And there's people that are buying and they're thinking, “Do I sell it in one year, two years, or three years?

Or are there certain metrics I should be looking at within my site to sell it? ” Or is this a matter of personal preference? It could be the environment as well, what's happening in the landscape of the digital space with content sites, and all the types of businesses that they own. But for you, Ron, what has helped you? How do you come to the conclusion on when to sell some of your sites?

Ron Stefanski:

So for me, I had a situation where I essentially built a whole portfolio of sites. And while that is nice and glamorous at times, it also becomes kind of a nightmare to focus on. So I got into a situation when AI entered the chat, if you will, and ChatGPT kind of got mainstream.

It really scared me. Because I thought, “Hey, the writings on the wall. Websites are dead.” I probably overreacted, to be honest. I think that there is some danger ahead, if you will. But I definitely overreacted at the time.

And that said, I still had a portfolio of sites. Last year, I had two sites that I sold off, and the reason why, and the timing, was that I just wasn't working on them anymore. And I found that when you're not working on sites, they just tend to die.

Regardless of what you want, they just tend to die. If you're not publishing new content, going through revisions or having a team do it, they tend to die. So I thought, “You know what? I'll get rid of these two.” And a part of it is, really, focus for me.

So, like I mentioned, I still have two sites that I'm actively working on. And I kind of wanted to pare down my focus too. I mean, at one point, I think I had 10 or 11 sites and I had people working on all those sites. And I sold both of those sites for good money. But at the end of the day, it's time to let these go and not let them die when they become useless and not worth anything.

So for me, that's when I did it. Everyone has their own reasons, though. But it just wasn't a focus anymore. And I knew someone else would take it and the two people who have bought them have. And everyone's happy.

Jaryd Krause:

I think it's a really good reason when something doesn't become a focus anymore and you shift your focus to something else, which takes a little bit more priority. It's the same with anything in life. You're not putting your resources into it. Meaning that it's going to get neglected. And it depends on how long it's going to take for it to just die.

I've seen that with sites as well, where I've just left them and neglected them and just haven't fared well because of my own fault. I'll take full responsibility. And I'm not just talking about content sites.

I'm talking about e-commerce businesses that I bought that I was working well with and had people managing them. And obviously, at times, it needed a bit of work, but it got to the point where I was making far more money or had a higher priority somewhere else. It's like, this is pointless holding on to these.

I think it's good to identify that as soon as possible. I don't know. For myself, I went and bought heaps. You had 11 sites in your portfolio. There's more than most people are going to want to manage.

And undoubtedly, I was running four businesses at once as well. I had a couple of e-commerce. I just realized that it's just not the right thing to do resource wise for me personally, even if I do have team management.

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. No, I agree. So for me, the biggest problem is that when you have 11 sites, something goes wrong with every site every day. So I was running around, literally putting out fires constantly. Or this thing or this site needed restructure; this site needed this. And it just became too much.

So I've been paring that down. And like I said, last year was the second. And then I just have two left. And I feel like I'm now in a good place. Both of these sites can go really wide. I can create thousands of articles on both of them. I've got a good team in place.

Everything's moving forward. But at the time, it made sense to sell them. And I don't regret it at all. Now we have the money in the bank and we're comfortable, which is the key to the whole thing.

Jaryd Krause:

Congrats.

Ron Stefanski:

Thank you.

Jaryd Krause:

So you've cashed in some of the fruits of your labor, really, and you can do what you want with it now, which is a really cool thing. I think that's a really good stage for people who are listening. They're wanting to buy businesses and they want to get to the point.

I mean, you don't work a regular job. You work for yourself from home. And you choose your own hours and how many hours. That's where most people are wanting to get to—get a couple of businesses, build them up, sell them off. Maybe buy one or two larger ones and just cruise. That's most people's goal here.

So when you decided to close down some sites, what was your process? Did you go to brokers? When you said, “Oh, I'm going to sell something,” what did it look like from there? And the reason I ask is how can somebody benefit from the process that you took and what you may have learned from listing sites and selling them?

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. So the first thing I'll say is that I sold when they were both on a downward trend. I do not recommend that if you want top dollar. But again, it became really passive income and something that I just honestly didn't pay attention to. So if you're buying with the intent to sell, don't do that. Get six to 12 months of solid earnings that are consistent and go from there.

In my case, like I said, they were kind of getting neglected anyway. And I was like, well, I guess it's just time to sell them. And they both had pretty much steady traffic numbers for a good six months when I was listing to sell. It wasn't like they were on a downward trend. But from previous numbers that were the highs, they were in the downward trend.

So when I did it, you know, both of these sites were under 100 thousand. So I think that's important to note. Because if you go on really high end, you might want to list. It depends on where you want to list it.

There are a lot of places. In my case, where they were, I listed them on Flippa. And basically, talk to them. I actually had some contacts because I sold a site there previously. So I basically talked to them and said, “Hey, I want to sell my sites.”

One of the reasons why I go with Flippa, especially for a site that size, is that they have a lower commission. I shouldn't say that. I should say that at the time, they had the lowest amount that they took from you, if you will. If it converts or if it is successful, I don't remember what they call it—the success fee or whatever it is—they had the lowest success fee.

So they had the lowest success fee compared to others. I don't know how it is now. I can't speak to it now, if that's still the same. For me, that was a big thing. So it's like, well, all these different brokers are going to sell my site. When you're talking about tens of thousands of dollars, it's like, well, why am I going to pay this other one five grand more to do the same thing? So that was my thought process there.

That said, I mean, it was a challenging listing. I actually listed three sites. One was a much higher number and a multiple. That one, actually, I didn't get rid of. It never got the asset I was looking for, but the other two did. But it was kind of a lot at the time because listing three sites at one time is difficult.

I got all the financials for the last 12 months, which, for the first two, was fine. It became a little problematic for the higher end site, the more expensive one. Because if people want financing, usually it's 24 months. So they want two full years.

So that was a little bit difficult with that one. I did end up getting that. But just getting those numbers was difficult because you had to go through all the different, you know, where you're pulling profit from, all the different affiliates and all that.

So that was, honestly, a headache. That's the biggest part. I do all that myself because I know my books aren't perfect. I have one QuickBooks account that collects all the data from all the sites.

So if you want to structure it and you want to really be smart about it, you have one site, one QuickBooks account for one site and one where you're logging all your expenses in one area for that one site. That would be the right way to do it. I didn't do that. I have a portfolio of sites, so it's hard to do it. But yeah, so I did that.

Jaryd Krause:

I've got multiple businesses, and they all go under one umbrella. And it's easy for us to say in theory, “Hey, make sure you do your P&L for each one. So you know how each site is performing.”

But when you've got your finger on the pulse and you know how each site is performing based on where it's at, because you know it so well, it goes all under the one umbrella. You know it's doing well, and you know what's not doing so well. And then it comes time to say, Ah, damn, I've got to go back a year or two and create a P&L that's actually digestible by a human being.

And it's easy for us to say, “Guys, if you're going to sell a site, just have that in order or just keep doing it while you own it.” But if you don't have that, like Ron and I, and probably you as well, let's be real, just carve out some time to get it nailed.

And the better that is, the more digestible it is. And don't just make it look good; make sure it is good. And it's real data. It's not just you manufacturing it. But if you have that in a presentable fashion, it's really a big tick from a buyer when they see that, right, Ron?

Ron Stefanski:

Absolutely. And I think it's one of the hardest things. So if you're buying a business, it's easier to have that P&L from the start and to keep track of things as they're going. If you're buying a business with the intent of selling, if you think, “Well, I'm going to buy this, and in two, three years, I want to sell it and double the amount of revenue, etc.,” that's a good thing. That's easier to do.

In my case, it's difficult because I started a site. I don't know how big it's going to get. I don't know when I'm going to sell it. And the last thing I want to do every month is do a P&L of the $3,000 in content losses that I have every month for the first year. You know what I mean? So that's kind of the issue.

So I just figure, “Hey, since I'm building these from scratch, I'll just deal with that headache when it's time.” And last year, I had to deal with three headaches at once. I was able to get rid of two of those headaches. So it all worked out. But yeah, that's the hard part about it. Because when you build, you may think, “I'm going to keep this thing forever.” Well, forever isn't forever in the website world.

Jaryd Krause:

And when you do build it from scratch, you're running at a loss for a certain period of time because you've gotta put your resources into it. So trying to put that in a P&L, if you're going to try to sell super early, it's not something that's super sexy for a buyer. But I want to talk about the expenses as well. Content expenses. Did you have them as legitimate expenses or did you have them as add backs?

Ron Stefanski:

So when I sell my sites, when it gets to the point where I'm ready to sell, basically I haven't even produced content on them for six months. I mean, that's really, usually. So I look at it as, “Hey, these were expenses in the past.”

And I know that's a murky thing too. Some people say, “Well, it's not really an expense. It's an investment into the business,” which it is. It's like an inventory, almost. So I know that there are two schools of thought there.

For me, we used to produce content on the site. Here's how much it used to cost. I haven't done this for six months. And truthfully, I tell people, because I think this is the best opportunity. I say, “Hey, I don't think you need to produce a bunch of content. I think that you need to revise the current content. I think that would serve you better.”

On most of my sites, one of the reasons I sell them is because I've exhausted the topics. I don't even know what to write about anymore. So it's like, “Hey, this is probably a good time now for you to revise it.” If you want to do it yourself, great. If you want to hire someone for $1,000 or $1,500 a month to do it, you can do that. It's kind of up to you. So the two buyers that I had this year were fine with that answer.

If I were investing, if I were creating new content and I was actively creating it and selling a site, I would list it on the P&L as a content investment, if you would. But I don't think I'd say it's an expense. Because it's completely something that is variable. You can make your content expense $5,000, or you can make it zero from month to month. It's up to you as the buyer.

So it's really hard to justify that as just an expense. So I would list it out so that they knew the way I was doing it, but I'd say, “Hey, this is the reality of the situation. You don't have to keep doing this. You can keep doing it, whatever you want to do.” Because it's going to be their business effectively anyway.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. It really is subject to what the previous owner would do. And then what the new owner would do and spend and how they would spend it. It's just a very interesting topic to bring up because when you don't neglect a site, like we said before, you don't do anything to it. It's going to die off.

And that's where some brokers will be like, “Hey, there's no content expenses. We don't need to publish content.” But not just publishing new content, but if you either a) don't publish new content or b) don't update content or even have some expenses or resources put towards changing things on the site SEO wise or updating and whatnot, you don't have any expenses for that, then the site's going to die.

So on that side of the argument, it's fair for it to be like, okay, you've got to have some expenses there to make sure a site continues on the same path that's already there without it even growing. So we need to have some sort of level of expense in there.

And then the other side is like, well, it's been pretty passive for a long time, and it sort of stayed stable, but it's only a matter of time when does the environment cause it to change or either go up or go down?

So it's a very tricky one and there's no right or wrong answer. I'm heavily on the buyer's side. But now that I am moving to the seller side, I understand. And we list actual sites for sale, and we add expenses for either management, updating content, creating new content, or making some changes to the site in the P&Ls with our sellers.

And it doesn't need to be exhausted in a massive way. And it shouldn't be so little that you're just taking a mickey. It's what we believe is fair on both sides.

Because we've got buyers, we've got mostly buyers. And that's why we decided, “Hey, let's start finding some good off market deals for people.” We only list good ones. And we do it for a 5% success fee. So if it sells, you have to pay 5% versus some other places. So we're just trying to make a really fair market.

Ron Stefanski:

That's a good success fee.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. I don't know what Flippa is at the moment or when you sold it but I mean, they've got a lot.

Ron Stefanski:

I actually don't remember myself.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. I do know that we are lesser, and I can say that.

Ron Stefanski:

I assume that you are, yes. But I know it was more than 5%, at least at the time. I don't know what it is now, but yeah, it definitely was. But yeah, I mean, everyone's doing the same amount of work, so it'd be nice to not have to pay a crazy amount. And I mean, 5% is definitely good. I can vouch for that.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, thanks. I mean, we like money. Everybody likes making money. That's why we're here. It's great to do so. But we started this mostly because there were not that many good sites or off market deals available for sale. And we wanted to provide them for our members. So that's why we started as a service—to make our service even better.

But aside from that, now we've started to list great sites that people—not just our members, but our audience—are buying and it's a huge win. And I just like to have these discussions around the selling of the sites because we're learning to be better listing agents, I guess.

And there's no perfect way to sell a business. Sometimes you have your content expenses in there, sometimes not, depending on where the business is. What are the lessons you learn, Ron, through the sale process for somebody else who's thinking about selling?

Ron Stefanski:

I think the biggest thing is, again—I don't want to say keep your books clean at all times. Because I don't think it's worth keeping your books clean when you have no intent to sell. Why waste your energy there?

I mean, as you're doing things, think about it and think, “Well, am I going to be able to kind of segment this out?” You don't have to segment it out at the time, but at least know that that's a possibility.

Again, I wouldn't sell on the downward trend when it's really, really going down. That doesn't work out well. I've had sites that have kind of been on that and I didn't really get much for them. Make sure that you're looking at all your expenses.

And if it makes sense to trim anything down, do it. Because you're going to get a big return on that. Just getting rid of certain expenses if they're there and saying, “You know what? I could probably reduce this.” Even hosting.

I mean, $100 with a 30x valuation turns into three grand when you sell it. So it's like, do I want to reduce the cost of $100 to make this $3,000? Yeah, that math makes sense. So really look at your books and make sure that that makes sense.

And then, I mean, those would be, I think, the biggest thing now. I mean, I'll talk to content sites specifically because that's what I've done. But just make sure that you haven't done a bunch of shady stuff. That's never a good thing.

I've never been a proponent of that. I've always stayed mostly white hat. I've gotten a little bit grayer with time because Google's kind of irritating me. But I've never gone like a full black hat doing really dodgy stuff. I've never gone down that route.

So just make sure it's a solid business with a solid foundation. Having your team, having SOPs is a lifesaver because it's really nice to say to someone, “Hey, with the sale of this comes this virtual assistant that I have who costs this amount of money, and they'll do this whole task for you.”

I mean, it depends on the buyer, but a lot of times they don't want the headache of certain things and they want someone else to go with it. And I also always offer, and I say, “Hey, when we sell this, if you want to get any consulting, we can work that into the price. Or you can have the option to purchase more at this rate.” I just make it as easy as I can for the buyers when I work with them.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, I love it. I love it. It's a really good way to think about it versus some people may be thinking, “I just need to sell this business for as much money as I possibly can.” Being a business owner and being an entrepreneur for a long time, you know it's about the relationships of like, “Hey, let's just make it super easy and good for them.” Because if you do that, they're going to win, and you are going to win. So help each other win.

And that brings me to my next question about relationships. How did you identify who to spend more time with in terms of being the seller and answering questions and providing details and information to, versus some people that you may just be tie kickers? Did you have a process where you’re like, “I'm going to have a call with this person”?

For me, I normally have a vetting process for different things that I do in business and life. It’s like if they get a certain amount of information, they need to call; it's worth it for me. I'll do it.

If they don't, I'll present “Do this first, and then we could have a call and answer a couple of questions first.” But was there a bit of a vetting process for you on who you would speak to and when you would speak to them?

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. So the two smaller sites, not a ton. I mean, I use Flippa, so they have portfolios of people that have done stuff before. And looking for someone who's ever put a dollar in or out on that platform is a good thing. Because you know that they're not just an account created last week.

Usually what I'll do, to be honest, is sell a site, because when I sell a site, I have the mentality that it's gone. I probably leave it in my head a little bit faster than I should. But I'm like, this is gone. It's not mine anymore.

So if somebody asks for analytics access, I'll give them that. If they ask for Google Search Console access, I usually want to have a call first to make sure that they're really serious. Because that's a deeper level of data, and I'm not all that comfortable with giving that to people. So I usually will have a call first.

And those were the two smaller sites. With the bigger site, I required that they do an NDA prior to even looking at it. And then, if they wanted to jump on a call, I unfortunately had a lot of tire kickers in the last one with this big site, which was very difficult to deal with.

I wish that it was a little bit better, but I was dealing with people who had history on the platform. It just didn't work out. So whether they're total tire kickers, I mean, I had a number of offers, but they weren't as high as what I was looking for. So it's not like no one ever offered anything. It was just, eh. Yeah, I think it's worth more. I think it will be worth more.

So I had that. But yeah, I mean, aside from a letter of intent and then when it got to the point where people were looking for a call, I figured if I were a buyer of a site, I would never put on a letter of intent before actually going on a call.

So I have to attend that first call, especially since the site that I was selling was in the mid six figures. So you're going to want to get on a call and I understand that. You have to understand if you're a seller. The other side of the coin is would you buy a site if someone wouldn't want to jump on a call?

So I just had to eat those hours and deal with it. But I don't think it's necessarily a terrible thing because, as I was jumping on these calls with these people, I was kind of honing my own answers. Because a lot of the same recurring questions come up.

And the first few, they kind of hit you with a surprise and you're like, Oh, I didn't think of that. And you don't have a great answer. And then once you get on more calls, it's like, Oh yeah, someone's asked about that before, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And then if they ever wanted a second call, I had a few people that wanted second calls, and then I was like, “Well, we're not going to do that unless there's a letter of intent.” Because you already know the site, assuming that all the revenue and expenses are accurate, which they are. But I just want some type of letter of intent at that point. So I did get a couple letters of intent on this. But yeah, it never came through with this one—the bigger one.

Jaryd Krause:

Wow. There is so much in there for people to listen to and sell a business. I love the shares, Ron. Before you go, I want to talk about money mindset, staying in business, the long game and some other things. What's worked for you? I know for myself personally that what's tripping me up is trying to rush things and trying to force things into existence and make money a lot faster and get out of my job a lot faster.

And it caused me some damage, to be honest. I built out a portfolio that I'm glad I've learned from, but if I did it again, I wouldn't run towards that sort of goal of having a lot of sites and doing what I did.

So one thing for me was rushing and then also focusing, chopping and changing on different things and staying on the path for a long distance. That's been the most helpful thing for me in terms of getting out of my previous job and growing even now with where my business is—staying focused and letting time do the work and the compounding of it.

What are some of the things that you've learned along the way in terms of good principles or philosophies that you've stuck by that have helped you be successful in this space, whether you're a successful investor or a successful business owner?

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah. I mean, there's a lot to unpack with that. Because I've learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes, my God. But yeah, so I would say first off, one thing that was always really important to me, and I thank God I did it, was diversification.

With content sites, I was always really big on diversification. Because you have one site that can get hit, but the other three go up from an algorithm. So I was really, really big on that for a long time.

And I think that's good to a certain point. I think I might have diversified a little too much over time. I think that there is a sweet spot with the number of sites. Maybe for me, personally, five or six at the most is probably where I should have stopped.

I went to like 11 or 12, I think, at one point. So five or six, I think, is probably the absolute most. Now I'm down to two. So that should tell you something.

But I was really focused on diversification. I mean, I had one pretty good exit, but a lot of my sites weren't really big exits. I shouldn't say really big, but just over 100,000 or under 100,000, between 50,000 and 100,000. So I had a number of those exits. I didn't have the $1.4 million exit. I never had that.

I had a lot of littler, I should say, exits. But all those littler exits across the whole portfolios of sites obviously add up to a bigger number. And then I had one pretty good size exit. So when you add those all up, it's actually quite a bit.

So diversification was the key, I think, definitely in the past. I think now to talk about that, it's a little bit more difficult now because you have AI content here. You have Google having these algorithm changes all the time. You have Google AI becoming a thing.

So I think actually honing in now is probably more important than it was in the past, at least with content sites. E-comm and all that is a totally different piece, but I'm talking about content sites here.

So that's one thing. The second thing would be that I'm always really, really quick to hire and slow to fire people. So I'm quick to hire; anytime I have a position, I hire three or maybe four people every single time as quickly as possible to do test tasks—two, three, four or five different tasks.

And I then compare them to each other to see who's the best. Out of those three to four, maybe five, I guess that's quick to fire. At that point, I'll get rid of all but the one that I think is really good.

And then, if I have that one person that I've kind of entrusted over that little cohort, that little group, I'll go with them. And then if they make a mistake a month down the road, that's a pretty bad mistake.

I'm not going to fire them because instead of yelling at them or getting frustrated, my approach is, okay, I screwed up. Because usually it is on me. I didn't tell them the right way to do this, or I didn't give them the right procedure. What did I do wrong here?

So I go to them, and I ask them, “How did this happen? How can we prevent it from happening again in the future? How can I assist you? What was it that went wrong?” So I don't yell at them. I have them explain what the thought process was and why they did what they did. And most of the time, it's a misunderstanding. Some of the time it's just me straight up screwed up.

But yeah, so that's one of the biggest things too. Because I mean, if you can have someone on your team for two, three, or four years, it's way better than having to just go through all these different people.

And especially when you have a portfolio of sites, one person can go from one site to another and do these tasks. And then you say, “Hey, you know what? I actually need that same help over here. Can you help?” because of the same transferable skills, if you will.

So that's actually been really, really big. And just know that unless they're brand new and making a ton of mistakes, if someone on your team fails, it's your fault. It's not their fault. Something went wrong. And if it does end up being their fault once or twice, that's reasonable. If it continues, you have to find a new person.

So that's been a big thing. And then, like I said, the procedure thing. My business has so many procedures, just SOPs that we do. I use Trello. I was at one point working at Google Folders and Google Docs for a very long time. And I refused to change my ways. And then I changed to Trello, which is free. And I was like, I'm never looking back. I can't believe I didn't do this before.

So yeah, just building that out. So there are dependencies so that the team can communicate with each other. Things like that definitely shouldn't be understated. I mean, the people—it's the people that you have and treating them right and not treating them like garbage.

I mean, they are people on the other end, and they are the lifeline of my business. I can't tell you how many thousands of hours I've saved because of the people that I've hired.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. It is a people's game. It really is. And building the right relationship with the right people and harnessing the right relationship with the right people is so important. And I agree with you. Supporting them, setting them up for success.

At the end of the day, if there's some major stuff up in the business, typically it's going to be the person who sets the task. Because there's chinks in the armor or little gaps that could be worked through that they may have missed. And it's my fault for not having a very structured and good SOP. So I love that.

Ron Stefanski:

And I would also say, in that same vein of thought, make sure you make it really clear to them. I mean, I think I've told all the workers I've worked with that I'm leading the ship, but I'm also your colleague.

I'm not this very scary boss that you can't ask questions to. So I'm very much about making sure that you ask questions if there is a doubt. I will get frustrated and yell at you if you don't ask questions. That, I won't accept.

You need to ask questions if you have them. And I will happily answer those as long as I'm not always repeating my answers to the same questions, which you don't. So I would just say, open up that line of communication and make it really clear.

You're not going to get in trouble for asking questions here. I need you to ask questions because if you have a question, I didn't do something right. So I need you to ask that.

And now I'm with a team. I mean, there's people that I've been with for five, six years at this point, pretty much since I started my business. So I've managed that way. And it's worked out pretty well over time. And then, even when I've lost people that I liked, I have tried to get them with someone else because I'm like, This is a good person. They know what they're doing.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I love the philosophy there. So what's next for you, Ron, in terms of online businesses? What do you want to do with your portfolio? Do you have goals or are you just pretty happy with where you're focusing on something else? I don't know.

Ron Stefanski:

Yeah, it's been interesting. Like I said, I'm very nervous about the AI revolution. This stuff is exponential. It's going to learn quickly. I don't think sites are dead, to be clear. I think that sites now, if you're just creating a content site, relying on Google for traffic, are going to suffer big time. And specifically, not paid traffic, but just organic traffic, which is how I've made a lot of my money and the businesses that I've run for a long time.

So I'm seeing, in my opinion, that that is going to get hit hard. And there are two ways that you can do it. You can say, “Okay, well, let's create a true brand, dive really deep, diversify your traffic sources, etc.” Honestly, at this point, I've been doing sites for such a long time. I'm tired of always trying to catch up with Google and trying to just avoid this thing to go to this other thing.

So we're still creating content on two sites. I still have them going because I have a lot of skills and everything in my head. So I am building those out. I'm excited about them. I may be diversifying those into YouTube.

Unfortunately, it's all under the Google umbrella. What are you going to do? So I'm doing that. I'm doing completely offline business now, mostly focused on real estate stuff, some flipping, etc. One of my neighbors is a general contractor, which works really well for me. So I'm doing a lot of that. That's actually going really well.

And I mean, we tried; I don't know if you heard about the Amazon Influencer Program. We tried that. It's done, okay? A few little things are here. We're thinking about a YouTube channel. We've got a lot of things that we're, again, diversifying, but I'm trying to get away from my business model of completely relying on Google Organic and trying to get into other things.

Because I mean, the nice thing about me, like I said, is that I've sold a lot of sites and I've got a comfortable nest egg now to where I can afford to say, “Hey, well, let's try these other things. Let me try these other interests now.”

So I'm doing a lot of that. I don't know where I'll end up in a year, a year and a half, or two years. We'll see what happens. The sites are still doing okay. The real estate stuff is doing really well.

All these other things are doing okay. So we'll see where I go. I don't 100% know, but that's part of the journey, I guess. It's just to keep going forward and see where the cream rises to the top and then I'll go that way.

Jaryd Krause:

Yeah. Awesome. Well, Ron, thanks so much for coming on and sharing so much of what you've done up until now. I'm sure you're going to be hanging around and doing some good stuff. You're too knowledgeable in the space to not stick with it., for sure, I reckon. And I have no doubt that we'll be speaking in a year or two again and hearing some really good stuff from you. So thanks for coming on. Where can we send people to hit you up?

Ron Stefanski:

Oh, gosh. I've been on this social media detox thing. I mean, my main site is still onehourprofessor.com. I'm not actively doing a ton there, but I'm still around there. And then also, I would say Twitter, X, whatever you want to call it. If you look up onehourprofessor.com there, I am there and I still log in daily, but I'm not posting as much, but I'm always there lurking.

Jaryd Krause:

Love it. Love it. Thanks so much for coming on, Ron. I appreciate your time.

Ron Stefanski:

No problem, Jaryd. See you later.

Jaryd Krause: Hey, YouTube watchers, if you thought that video was good, you should check out this video here on the 2 Best Types of Websites Beginners Should Buy. Or check out my playlist on How I Made My First $100k Buying Websites and how to do due diligence. Check it out. It's an awesome playlist. You'll enjoy it.

Want to have more financial and time freedom?

We help people buy established profit generating online businesses so the can replace their income and spend more time doing what they love with the people they love.

Host:

Jaryd Krause is a serial entrepreneur who helps people buy online businesses so they can spend more time doing what they love with who they love. He’s helped people buy and scale sites all the way up to 8 figures – from eCommerce to content websites. He spends his time surfing and traveling, and his biggest goals are around making a real tangible impact on people’s lives. 

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