Trending March 2024 # 8 Ways To Drive Local Business In Competitive Markets With Search # Suggested April 2024 # Top 7 Popular

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Local search marketing is key for any location but when faced with a competitive market, it’s essential that you have strategies to help you stand out.

The closer the user is to a location, the more likely it will rank. However, in denser areas, a location will face more competition.

By accelerating efforts around Google My Business (GMB) and location page management, a location’s relevance and prominence can increase a business’s rankings resulting in increased local visibility, especially in competitive markets.

In this post, we will break down strategies for both GMB and location pages to drive more local business.

How Google Ranks Local Results

Google states that “Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.”

Relevance is how applicable the result is to what someone is searching for.

Distance looks at how far the results are from the searcher for the location term.

Prominence refers to how reputable a location is in its local market. Plus, it takes into consideration factors such as articles, links, directories, review count, reviews score, and SEO.

A business can only directly impact relevance and prominence. Distance is determined by where the user is and cannot be optimized for.

Maximizing Google My Business In Competitive Markets

Having a successful listing on GMB requires leveraging all the different capabilities and features offered. Maximizing the use of each will allow your business to increase its presence in your local market.

Check out these opportunities to enhance your local listings.

1. Profiles

Google recommends that your profiles be “accurate, complete, and engaging.”

All Attributes should be updated so the listing is reflective of your current business operations.

Make sure to also add any links to your website, for reservations, your menu, or even appointments.

Hours of operations are also found within this tab and it is critical to maintain accurate hours every day of the year.

Special hours can be also added for holidays, events, or during a specific time period. Make sure to regularly check and update your listings so they continue to be accurate, complete, and engaging.

2. Google Posts

Another way to make your profile more engaging is through Google Posts.

Posts are a great way to keep your listings current and promote any key offerings. It also is a way for a business to share a quick update.

Google Post content can also impact rankings. For example, if a searcher’s query is for “expert wax grooming,” Google will look at the content in your listing and leverage the Google Post content.

As seen in the example below, those results are “related to your search” and therefore that location is being surfaced as the primary result.

3. Reviews

For more specifics on Google Posts, you can review How To Create Google My Business Posts That Get Results

Reviews tend to be an overlooked area of GMB, but Google clearly states in their description of prominence that “Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking.”

Maintaining as high a score as possible will be key while also looking to increase review volume. The more reviews you have, the better your listing will perform.

But how many will be based on your competition? Look at your competitor’s review volume and scores to get a baseline of where your location would need to be.

Receiving reviews on a consistent basis is critical. Implementing a strategy to solicit reviews can be helpful to increase review volumes and scores.

Google has a way of creating a short URL for you to share with customers to leave a review. Not only do you want to receive reviews, but you also want to respond as well.

As Google states,

“When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”

Leaving a high-quality engaging response that is unique to each customer is the best approach.

4. High-Quality Photos & Video

Photos and videos are a great way to make your profile more engaging and let a customer know what to expect when visiting your location. Photos that match a product or service query will help a listing stand out too.

Adding photos of new menu items, completed projects, items for sale, your store’s layout, or storefront will all increase a user’s engagement with your profile.

Consistently add new photos to keep your profile fresh and engaging.

Maximizing Location Pages In Competitive Markets

Location Pages are critical to any local search strategy, but how the information is presented and structured will dictate how it performs on Google. This is where prominence is heavily factored in.

Google states, “Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories.”

Also, “your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”

Many location pages normally only contain the business’ name, address, phone number, hours of operation, and a short description with a stock photo.

By enlisting the strategies below you will allow your location to stand out in a crowded and competitive market.

5. Hyperlocal Content

Hyperlocal content is a great way to create unique content that stands out locally. And, you don’t have to create long-form, time-consuming content. Content on a location page can often be boilerplate or rather generic.

By taking the following two different approaches, you can highlight what is unique about anything outside of the location and what is uniquely specific to the inside of the location.

Outside content ideas could include mentioning specific neighborhoods, nearby highways, schools or universities, museums, arenas, or other key landmarks.

Inside content ideas could include any events or promotions offered specifically in that location, such as a kids night, matinee offering, TVs for a big game or show, live music, even a list of staff members who work there with bios, and any other information that makes that location unique.

This allows a page to provide engaging content that helps increase relevance and prominence.

6. Schema Markup

Another great SEO tactic to implement is schema markup. When adding schema markup to a location page it allows for microdata to be included in a rich snippet since it “adds context and displays attributes that Google loves.”

These snippets help make a business stand out more prominently in the SERPs.

Schema Markup is not a ranking factor, but a sound tactic to make your location page more prominent.

If your links stand out more in the SERPs and lead to more engagement, that could impact your rankings as your result since the result is becoming more relevant, too.

7. Link Signals

Links are key to any SEO strategy. Links to your location’s page from another site pass PageRank.

The number of quality links to your site from others will determine how relevant a location is. Building citations through various directories has been a consistent way to build links relevant to local SEO.

The focus should also be on building local links through a site that is considered to be a local authority such as a local paper, the city chamber of commerce, or the city’s website.

8. Core Web Vitals

With a recent major Google update, Core Web Vitals are now a ranking factor. Businesses should be looking to optimize their page’s experience.

Google provides a tool to see page performance and then you can act on anything that is affecting your Core Web Vitals performance.

In some very competitive markets, businesses may not follow GMB’s rules. Keyword stuffing in a business name is the most common tactic used that is against the rules.

If you see a local business that is not following the rules you can report them to Google – here is what you can do.

By optimizing your GMB listings and location pages, your business can expect to drive more business locally.

By understanding how relevance, distance, and prominence factor into a result you can more effectively strategize on how to affect ranking.

The more you can do well and the more unique you can make your local marketing efforts, the more likely you will be to rank locally in a highly competitive market.

More Resources:

Featured Image: Sammby/Shutterstock

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2 Ways To Search A Business On Whatsapp, And Register In Directory

The most easiest way to search a business account on WhatsApp is via the WhatsApp Business directory. It sounds and works like the old telephone directory of your area, which we used to have a home. You can search the any business profile on WhatsApp as follows:

1. Launch WhatsApp on your phone.

3. Here you will see a new category, named “Find businesses”, under this category tap on More.

4. Now, in order to find businesses, you need to set the location:

You can either share your current location, either only while using the app or just once, or

You can choose the “Not Now” option, and manually select the region from the list.

5. After the location is set, tap on new chat again, and you can search for the business you are looking for. Alternatively, you can use the sub categories, to filter the search results.

7. Once you find the business you were looking for, tap on it to start the chat.

Note: As of now this feature is currently available only in São Paulo (Brazil), and will be rolled out globally soon.

Another way to search for the WhatsApp number of any business, is via the web search. You can easily find the WhatsApp number of most well known business, for example your nearby outlet of a coffee chain, hospital, multiplex, or even your bank. For example the screenshots attached. You can start chatting with the business profile, without even saving the number to phone, for this check out our guide to chat on WhatsApp without saving number.

Getting your business added to the business directory, increases the visibility of your business. The more information you list about your business, the easier it is for potential customers to find you and get in touch with you.

If you are wanting to get your business registered on WhatsApp Business Directory, then you need to make sure you fall in the eligibility criteria and follow these steps:

Requirement & Eligibility to Register Your Business on WhatsApp Business Directory

Download the latest version of WhatsApp Business on your phone (It is currently available only on the Android version of the Business App, iOS support will come soon)

Currently only Business from São Paulo (Brazil), can register (It will expand to more regions globally, in future).

1. Launch WhatsApp Business on your phone.

3. Now, you need to review and edit your business profile. You need to fill in your business details mentioned below. If you update any info about your business, then you need to resubmit the application.

 Name, Category,

Profile Picture,

Description about the business,

Address,

Business Hours

5. In case any further information is required then you’ll be notified, and once your application is approved it will be added to the directory.

If  you want to withdraw your application, from the WhatsApp Business directory, then it can be done as follows:

1. Launch WhatsApp Business on your phone.

3. Now, go to More Options, and select Remove from Directory.

So this is how you can search for any WhatsApp Business Profile, if you are located in São Paulo, or anywhere in the world. Any WhatsApp user can look for more similar business profiles, after opening more details about a business from the directory. We also discussed how you can get your business registered in the WhatsApp Business Directory, and withdraw your application if needed. Currently the directory is available only in São Paulo, but will be rolled out globally soon. I hope you found this article useful, if you did, make sure to like and share with who should know this. Check out more tips linked below, and stay tuned for more such tech tips and tricks.

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Top 8 Tips To Grow Your Business In 2023

Your business’ success depends on generating new business and growing your customer base. It can be difficult at times.

These are some tips that will help you increase your customer base.

Top 8 Tips to Grow your Business in 2023 1. Get to know your customers

Also read: Top 10 Best Artificial Intelligence Software

2. Offer great customer service

Your customer service should be exceptional. Go the extra mile whenever possible. Customers will remember you for your exceptional service and be more inclined to recommend you to others.

3. Remain loyal to your customers and seek out new opportunities

You should have strategies in place for nurturing existing customers. These could include staying in touch with them via e-newsletter or letting them be aware of promotional events.

You should also look for ways to earn more work and grow your customer base. You must find the right balance between finding new customers and nurturing existing ones.

Also read: The 15 Best E-Commerce Marketing Tools

4. Social media is a great way to communicate

Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your business to potential customers. You can also gain valuable insight through “social listening” Social listening allows you to find out what your customers think about you.

It also gives you insight into their behaviour and helps you identify keywords and trends that are relevant to your market. This will help you improve customer service. Social media can be used to increase your business profile, attract new customers, and improve customer service.

5. Participate in networking events

Spend time building your network – it’s not about what you know, but who you know.

Also read: Top 7 Best ECommerce Tools for Online Business

6. Host events

Hosting your own event is a great way for customers to meet you and to build relationships. Invite your top customers to attend and encourage them all to invite their friends.

7. Give back to your community

Also read: Top 10 Best Software Companies in India

8. Take note of what works, and adjust your approach as you go

To measure the success of your marketing efforts, you should track where your customers are coming to you. You shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things. If something doesn’t work, you can refine your approach and spend more time on activities that produce the best results.

How To Improve Seo For Your Local Business: 24 Tips

How to improve your SEO with keywords

We’ve talked about the importance of using keywords for your titles, meta descriptions, image tags, and content body — but exactly which keywords should you use? This section will cover how to choose keywords to improve your SEO and Google ranking.

How do keywords improve SEO?

Keywords are a crucial part of SEO. They are the words your target audience is typing into Google searches to find information, products, or services your business provides. In other words, keywords are the means by which search engines connect your business to customers.

Here are nine steps you can take to improve your SEO ranking through keywords.

1. Use keyword tools

While it is a good idea to brainstorm keywords for your business to rank for, this should not be your only approach. What you think your target audience is searching for online may not be what they are actually searching for. Keyword research tools provide real user data to help you confirm whether the keywords you have thought of will improve your rank on Google, as well as to identify additional keywords that you may not have thought of on your own. Google has recently placed restrictions on its free keyword tool, but there are many keyword tool alternatives that you can try.

2. Identify keywords that drive traffic to your website

Keyword tools can be very helpful for finding and suggesting keywords, but keep in mind that the data they provide is generalized for all websites and users.

If you want your website to rank on Google, one of the best resources for this is none other than your website! With an analytics tool such as Google Analytics, you can identify the actual terms people searched for that led them to your website. You can also see which keywords you are already ranking for, and build more keyword clusters from there.

3. Be realistic when choosing keywords

The key to improving your SEO is in being realistic. Yes, you want keywords with a high search volume, but keep in mind that these tend to be general. It is not realistic to think that everyone searching for a general term is looking for your specific service or information.

In addition, if the competition is also high for a particular keyword, it may not be realistic to think that you have a chance at ranking for that keyword. You may have a great blog post with keywords in the title tags, meta content, URL link, and alt tags, but if your expectations for ranking are not realistic, you may end up disappointing yourself.

4. Use long-tail keywords

Being realistic about keywords brings us to one of the most commonly overlooked ways to improve your business’s website ranking on Google — long-tail keywords. What are long-tail keywords? They are longer keyword phrases and the remedy for high volume and high competition keywords!

These longer phrases that incorporate keywords are less competitive because fewer people or companies are able to provide such specific information, and they are more targeted because the people searching those phrases have more intent to engage or buy. You can improve your SEO on Google by finding long-tail keywords for your business most relevant to your target audience and creating content from those.

5. Google search your keywords before deciding

Whether you’re using specific keywords or long-tail keyword phrases to get your business on Google, one very important keyword tip is to always Google search your keywords before using them. This is a way to check to make sure that the content you plan to associate with your keyword is aligned with the content Google associates with that keyword.

Perform a Google search for your keyword and see what other content it pulls up. If the search results don’t reflect the content that you’re writing about, you will either need to change your content or change the keyword you are using.

6. Scope out the competition

While you’re looking at the keyword search results, take an even closer look at your competitors who are already on that first page. Are they large businesses, news sites, or government sites? If these competitors are wildly different from you, or if they have been around for several years, it may be hard to improve your ranking for this keyword. Another observation to make is the form of the content in the results. For example, if the search results are mainly product pages, and you have a blog post, your content may be seen by Google as less relevant. Make sure that what you’re trying to rank for reflects what people are actually searching for online.

7. Check your results

How local businesses can improve their SEO

SEO is a must for any business looking to get found, stand out, and get chosen online. However, for local businesses especially, there are three particularly important points of focus.

1. Focus on your niche market

As a local business, it is important to identify and express that which distinguishes you from nearby competitors and/or larger franchises. Think in terms of the specific products, services, and conditions your ideal customer is seeking out. Do you provide same-day services? Are you the only environmentally friendly business of your kind within a 20-mile radius? Are you pet-friendly?

The more specific you can get about the products and services you provide, the better the chances are that you will rank for searches your ideal customers are performing. This is called niche marketing.

For example, does your health club or martial arts studio teach self-defense classes for women? Don’t just include “self-defense classes” on your services page. Get more specific with something like:

“We are a martial arts studio that provides karate classes to all ages. We also offer specialized self-defense classes for women of all ages, from teens to seniors!“

Your business will be more likely to show up when people search for things like: self-defense, women’s self-defense, and self-defense for teens.

2. Standardize your business name

When Google sees inconsistencies in your online content, it loses trust in you and will be hesitant to put it in front of searchers. Therefore, another quick and easy way your local businesses can improve its rank on Google is to ensure that your name is the same across all online channels — social media platforms, niche directories, review sites, map listings, etc. This might seem like common sense, but many companies do not obey this rule.

For example, if your business name contains the word “company”, do not use “co.” in some listings and “company” in others. Keep it consistent. Also, find one handle you can use for every social media outlet. This will improve your SEO and make it easy for people to find your business online.

There are many ways to optimize your business listings to improve your rank in online searches, but consistency is the most important.

3. Create a Google Business listing

Aside from having a website, the best thing you can do to improve your local visibility and Google ranking is to create and optimize your Google Business Profile. Google Business is making it easier than ever for potential customers to find, learn about, and engage with businesses specific to their needs. Complete with reviews, ratings, directions, posts, and other vital information, it is becoming the go-to directory for consumers. Create your Google Business Profile asap to improve SEO for your business.

Final tips for improving your SEO

So we’ve covered the tactical aspects of using your website, content, and keywords to improve your SEO. Now it’s time to finish off with three more general or strategic tips.

1. Think bigger picture

Knowing what products and services are most profitable and where you’d like to expand in your business is important for setting the foundation for a solid SEO strategy. Don’t think of keywords but of general phrases that make sense for your business, as it stands now and also where you want it to stand in the future.

2. Analyze your traffic

Doing all the above is great, but without measuring the right SEO metrics, you can’t know whether your actions are actually improving your SEO. Google Analytics is the industry standard and allows you to see where your website visitors are coming from and what they’re doing on your website. The insights gathered from this data will help to inform and refine your SEO tactics moving forward.

3. Focus on unique content

There is no way to create lasting SEO success overnight. This is by design from search engines, who are constantly pushing for websites to produce quality work on a consistent basis to get distinguished from spammy, low-quality sites. When it comes to improving your SEO, the importance of authentic content cannot be emphasized enough. Blog posts and videos are a great way for you to present yourself as an expert in the field, answer common questions and show prospects how you work. Releasing these pieces monthly shows both searchers and search engines that you’re a credible, trustworthy resource that is worthy of ranking higher on Google

Proper SEO takes time, so treat it like a 401k. Invest in it each month and over time, you’ll net fantastic results.

Related: Have more than one business location? Get tips to optimize SEO for multiple locations here!

Spotify Keeps Pausing? 8 Ways To Fix

Spotify is one of the best music streaming services available, especially if you’re into lesser-known artists. On the other hand, nothing ruins music faster than frequent pausing and buffering. This issue is common on Spotify and has many causes, but the good news is they’re all easy to fix.

If Spotify keeps pausing and interrupts your listening experience, here’s what to do.

Table of Contents

Also, be sure to check out our YouTube channel from our sister site where we made a short video to go over the different options mentioned in the article.

Turn Off Low Power Mode

This setting can interfere with Spotify on any device, whether it’s a phone or a tablet. If you find Spotify keeps pausing while you’re listening to music, try turning off low power mode and ensuring you have sufficient charge.

Turn Off Data Saver Mode

Spotify has a built-in Data Saver mode that reduces the amount of data the app uses when you’re streaming over cellular networks. This mode can potentially interfere with playback quality and result in Spotify pauses.

To access Data Saver mode, tap the gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen and then tap Data Saver from the list. Ensure the slider is set to Off.

Restart Your Device

One of the easiest ways to correct issues with Spotify pausing is to reset your device. You can perform a reset on a mobile device or select Restart from the Start menu on your computer, but it’s often better to completely power down the device for at least 15 seconds before restarting.

Doing this clears any data stored in temporary memory and is one of the most recommended ways to correct issues like this. Once 15 seconds have passed, turn your device back on and try Spotify again. 

Keep Your Device Up to Date

There are times when Spotify doesn’t operate correctly after an update, especially after OS updates. Make sure to keep your mobile device fully up to date with the latest version of the OS.

Sign Out Everywhere

Several Spotify users have reported that signing out of their accounts on every device before logging back in can correct issues with frequent pausing in Spotify.

To do this, go to your account overview page. Once on this page, scroll down to the bottom and select the Sign Out Everywhere button. Once you do this, you will need to log back into your account.

Keep in mind that this option doesn’t include Spotify partner devices, so it won’t log you out of your PlayStation or Sonos devices. 

If your Spotify account is in use somewhere else, it can result in choppy playback on your device. By signing out of your account from all devices, you’ll also eliminate the chance that another user may have unauthorized access to your account. 

Connect or Disconnect From WiFi

Spotify allows you to choose from multiple quality levels to stream your music. 

The base level for music is 160 kbps and requires upload and download speeds of 384 kbps. The next level is 320 kbps and requires upload and download speeds of 512 kbps. For lossless quality streaming, you need at least 2 Mbps down and 0.5 Mbps up.

These speeds need to remain at this level or higher consistently or the quality of your music will waver, often resulting in pauses. In many cases, 3G is not sufficient for lossless quality. 

If you are streaming music at the highest quality possible and you are not achieving the results you want, try connecting to WiFi. If this isn’t possible, lower the quality of your stream. You should also ensure that Spotify is not automatically attempting to stream at a higher quality than what is capable.

To do this, open Spotify and tap the gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Tap Music Quality and look under the Streaming header. By default, Automatic will be selected. Choose between Low, Normal, High, and Very high. If your app pauses often, select Low or Normal.

Reinstall Spotify

If you’ve tried these other methods and they do not work for you, remove Spotify from your device. On a computer, this means uninstalling the program. On a phone, delete the app. Remove all traces of Spotify and then re-download the app.

Errors can occur during installation that might result in playback issues. By removing the app and reinstalling it, you can work from a fresh, up-to-date install.

Check Your AirPods

If you use Bluetooth headphones, ensure that no setting may be affecting your experience. For example, Apple’s AirPods will pause the song if one is removed from your ear. If your Bluetooth device is malfunctioning, it may cause Spotify to pause.

How To Buy An Online Business: 8 Funding Options

Editor Note: we know that buying online businesses can be a tricky business. As Mark suggests below, make sure you educate yourself and only choose an option that will work for you.

While there are a lot of great reasons to buy an online business rather than starting from scratch, there’s always one major objection: buying an established website takes money. And the more established a website is, the more it will cost you.

Of course, you can sift through an auction marketplace looking for a bargain deal, but these marketplaces are fraught with fraud and snake-oil salesmen. Plus, many of the websites for sale through marketplaces simply don’t make enough money to justify the time you’ll spend building them. With smaller sites, you’re often better off starting from nothing.

So how can you afford to buy an established website? This article will cover 8 of the most common options we see buyers exercise to fund an acquisition. I’ll also review the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

1. Cash Reserves, Stock, Bonds

Not everyone has access to enough cash reserves to buy a premium website, but for those who do have enough value built up in savings, stocks, bonds, and other liquid assets, cash is a great option.

Benefits

Sellers Love Cash Buyers. Sellers love to work with buyers who pay with cash since cash buyers tend to move quickly and decisively.

Your losses are limited to your investment. Hopefully, your acquisition doesn’t fail, but if it does, you only lose the cash invested. While this isn’t a great outcome, it’s better than losing a home you used as collateral for a loan to buy the website.

Drawbacks

Do you have that much saved? Most people don’t use cash as an option because they don’t have that much cash or value in stocks and bonds to risk in an investment of an online business.

2. SBA Loans

During the great recession, suggesting you would buy an online business with an SBA loan was a great way to ensure no one responded to your requests. But SBA loans are becoming increasingly more prevalent.

Benefit

Let the business pay for itself. One of the greatest benefits of an SBA loan is that most loans only require a down payment of 10% – 20% of the purchase price.Let’s assume you buy a website that earns $100,000 per year and that you pay $300,000 for the business. Using an SBA loan, you’ll need to pay $30,000 – $60,000 at close while the rest of the payment is paid off over 10 chúng tôi means the business will actually pay for itself out of its own earnings, and you’ll earn back your original investment in less than a year.

Drawback

You are responsible for the loan. While getting an SBA loan significantly increases your purchasing power, you also take on the risk for that loan. This means you take on much more risk, and not everyone is comfortable taking on such a large loan that is dependent on the business remaining profitable for the foreseeable future.

3. Partner with an Investor

One of the more common arrangements we see among buyers are partnerships with an investor. There are many professionals who spent their careers in more ‘traditional’ business, who love the idea of the online business world, but don’t have the knowledge to venture out on their own.

Benefit

Access to significant capital. The benefit of this approach is obviously that you can access potentially large amounts of capital without risking your own personal equity (or at least not all of it). This allows you to buy more established, more profitable businesses. Why is this important? If you make a small, incremental improvement of 5% on a large business, that results in more real dollars returned than if you make a 5% improvement on a small business.

Drawback

You are tied to the investor. The downside is obvious: you will be tied to your investor. If they have trouble being ‘hands-off’, you’ll need to answer questions about what you are doing, how the business is performing, and what they should expect. In addition, as long as they have equity in the business, you’ll be paying them profits from your work.

4. Home Equity Line of Credit

Using equity built up in your home is an easy and natural source to access funds to buy an online business.

Benefits

Little restrictions, and low-interest. Interest rates on home equity are still extremely low, and the funds that you get from your home equity line of credit can be used in many different ways. Business loans often come with a number of restrictions that home equity loans lack.

Somewhat predictable. Accessing your home equity is much more predictable than applying for an SBA loan. If you have equity built up in your home, you are likely very aware of what you will be able to borrow. This makes it easier to approach sellers since the funds are somewhat certain.

Drawback

Do you want to risk your home? But the downsides to this funding option need to be considered: closing costs can be high, making the out-of-pocket expenses difficult to swallow, there may be tax consequences which make this less desirable, and of course, you are risking your home in the event of a default on the loan.

5. Roll Over for Business Startup (ROBS)

This option is a fairly obscure, yet attractive funding option to acquire a business. Using ROBS, you can tap into your retirement funds and use those funds to buy an online business without paying the tax penalty for withdrawing funds early from retirement.

Benefits

Similar to dealing in cash. For the person selling their business, using ROBS appears very similar to someone buying their website with cash. Accessing the funds in your retirement account only takes a few weeks and, once accessed, are easily transferable to the seller without any work on their side.

Options for your investment. Using ROBS, you can either treat your invested capital from retirement as an investment and grow your retirement portfolio in its tax-deferred shelter or you can convert out of the ROBS and benefit from any increase in the value of the business.

Drawbacks

More complex setup. Setting up a ROBS requires that you setup your company in the right way, otherwise you’ll risk having the IRS rule that you accessed your retirement funds in the wrong way, resulting in heavy penalties and back taxes.

Must use a C-Corp. One of the requirements is that your business be established as a c-corporation. While you can transition out of this formation at a later date, most Internet businesses won’t benefit from a c-corporation structure.

You risk your retirement. What happens if you buy a web business using your retirement account, but the business quickly fails? You lose your retirement.

6. Setup a Self-Directed IRA

Similar to using a ROBS account to buy a business, you can set up a self-directed IRA and use the funds to invest in an online business. But there is a significant restriction: you’ll need an investor to make the investment. The IRS has strict rules about self-dealing with a self-directed IRA, and one of those rules is that you can’t buy a business that pays you a salary with retirement funds (unless you want to use ROBS).

Benefits

Similar benefits to ROBS. Like ROBS, using a self-directed IRA allows you to access funds that otherwise are protected until retirement without taking on the tax consequences of withdrawing those funds early. It’s a great way to use an asset that otherwise would sit in the stock market growing 7% to 10% per year.

Great for silent investors. This is a great option for a silent investor as it allows them to tap a portion of their overall assets that they may think are not accessible.

Drawback

You need an investor. You can’t use your own retirement account to make this investment unless you use a roll over for business startup, so you’ll need to find an investor who is ready to take the risk with you (and stay silent).

7. Borrow on Life Insurance

Finally, many people don’t know that you can actually take a loan out of your life insurance, assuming it is whole life insurance.  As you pay into whole life insurance, you build up its “cash surrender value“, and amount of money that you can easily access.

Benefit

Easy access and friendly money. Generally speaking, accessing funds out of a whole life insurance plan is easy to do, and there typically isn’t a strict repayment plan. You’ll incur some interest, but this is often offset by the interest a whole life plan provides.

Drawback

How much is there? The problem with borrowing against a life insurance policy is that most people don’t build up significant “cash surrender value” until they are older. As a result, you may find that the amount of cash available is less than you need to complete a transaction. But using your cash surrender value can be a useful component of piecing together a financing plan.

8. Owner Financing a Deal

Strategizing how you can raise funds to acquire an online business is often like putting together a puzzle. One key piece to this puzzle may be to ask the person selling their website to finance a portion of the deal.

Benefits

A sign of good faith. When a seller is willing to extend a personal note on the business, that shows a strong sense of confidence in both the business and in their estimation of your ability to continue the business’s profitability.

Friendly rates. Because the loan is negotiated between you and the seller, you can usually negotiate simple, straightforward rates and repayment rules. This usually works in your favor.

Drawback

Sellers hate owner financing. Don’t expect the person selling their website to be excited about accepting owner financing. Most sellers will resist any owner financing since it delays the benefit they get from selling their business. And even though the loan is secured against the website, they are selling the website for a reason: they don’t want it anymore. They won’t want to take it back if you’ve run the business into the ground.

Owner financing won’t be available for every deal, and when it is available, you should expect only 10% – 20% of the deal to be wrapped up in owner financing.

Conclusion

There are a number of ways you can finance the acquisition of an online business, even if you don’t have the cash reserves for an acquisition. How you finance the business depends a lot on your personal assets, your creativity, and your willingness to take on risk.

Yes, buying any business is risky. Make sure you know the consequences you’ll face if you make an investment that fails.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to have the cash on hand to buy a business. There are a lot of options available.

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