Getting a startup off the ground is a tremendous undertaking. There are so many things to consider, and each one can have a major effect on your business. Some things, such as building a personal brand, are no-brainers, but there are plenty of other questions that do not have such clear answers. And to make things tougher, the stakes are often high, the margin for error is usually small and many of the resources available to help you just inundate you with information, making things more confusing than they need to be.
But there is hope. By thinking critically about what you can do and how it will affect your business, you can sift through a lot of the noise out there, helping you determine the best course of action for you and your startup.
The topic of buying a website falls firmly into that gray area. Many people rave about it, saying it is something you need to do, while others caution against spreading yourself too thin.
We’re here to help. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine if buying a website is the best thing for your startup.
What do we mean by buying a website?
Before we go too far, it is important to clarify what we are talking about. Some people confuse buying a website with buying a domain name. It’s important to know they are not the same. A domain name is simply the URL address. Sometimes this can be valuable. Perhaps someone already owns the domain you need for your business and it is worth it for you to buy it from them. But that is all you will get: the name.
On the other hand, you should think of buying a website more as buying a business. A well-run website will have a solid revenue stream, accurate records, and systems and processes in place to help it run. Sometimes these can be fantastic investments for startups. Let’s take a look at how you can decide if it’s worth it.
Does it align with your business goals?
This is probably the most important question to ask. If you are going to invest time, money and labor into a website, you need to make sure it will help you achieve some of your business goals.
For example, if you are running an eCommerce store, it might make a ton of sense. Buying a website will help you expand your reach and it can also help you grow your brand. However, if your company has designed an app that helps make exchanging international currencies easier, buying a website that sells camping gear isn’t going to make a lot of sense.
This might seem obvious, but startup owners can sometimes be too easily drawn towards the potential revenue streams, and this can get you into trouble, quickly.
Remember, though, that the function of the website doesn’t always need to be revenue. You can use it to expand your audience and to generate new leads. But no matter what, it needs to support your core business functions in an effective and efficient way.
How much work is required to maintain it and grow it?
This is another big one. As a startup, time is limited. Everything you do needs to be somehow related to your core business functions so that you can continue to grow. So when looking at buying a website, it is important that it doesn’t take away too much of your time, or if it does, it needs to provide you a significant enough return so that its worth it.
For this, you will want to dig into the website’s metrics. What are its operating expenses? How does it make money? Then, imagine yourself running it. Will you be able to grow it and still focus on what’s most important?
Sometimes these websites can virtually run themselves, and this can turn out to be a great boost to your business. But do your homework to make sure you don’t get stuck with something that will take away all of your precious time.
What is its SEO potential?
Search engine optimization (SEO)—the process of setting up your site so that it shows up in Google search rankings—is such an important tool for any business. It helps generate new leads and brings traffic to your company’s website. But it takes time and effort to have success with this.
So, when looking at buying a website, do some research into its SEO potential. Look at its backlink profile and find out who has been linking to it and why. Avoid sites that get lots of spam, and look for ones that are frequently mentioned by high-authority sources. Of course, there will be more expensive, but the ability to capitalize on this link profile might be well worth the extra money.
What do you want to do with it?
One of the last questions you’ll want to ask yourself is about your plans for the site. Do you want to turn it into the website for your business? Are you going to keep it separate and use the revenue? Or are you going to build it up and sell it, something that can be very profitable if done correctly?
As with anything in running a business, everything you do needs to have a purpose. And this is even truer when running a startup since resources are tight. Try to map out what the website will be used for a few years down the road. If you’re going to sell it, how much do you want to get from it? And how will you build that value? If you’re going to keep it, how will you run it and use it so that it is most effective? Answering these questions will give you a much better idea as to whether your startup should buy a website.
As you can see, making decisions doesn’t have to be so stressful. If you take some time to methodically think through the different options, and you consider what will be the impact on your businesses, you can pretty easily figure out what is the best move. Buying a website is often a fantastic move for budding startups, but take some time to determine if it is a fantastic move for your budding startup.