1646 – Digital Businesses vs Brick and Mortar Businesses with Nate Lind

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Broker & Business Advisor of Website Closers, Nate Lind.

Nate Lind is not your average broker. He started his career in real estate, transitioned into e-commerce entrepreneurship, and eventually found his calling as a broker and business advisor at Website Closers. His diverse background and wealth of experience make him a valuable resource for entrepreneurs looking to sell their digital businesses.

Nate shared his experiences in selling service-based and content businesses. He revealed that Website Closers has built a buyer's network with over 100,000 buyers and has sold over 3,000 companies. According to Nate, digital businesses' appeal lies in their ability to be operated remotely, which significantly broadens the buyer market.

Interestingly, Nate mentioned that even institutional investors recognize digital businesses' value, especially in the e-commerce and tech sectors. Despite the current economic climate, digital companies are in high demand. However, valuing these businesses can be complex, with multiples varying wildly depending on growth, earnings, and industry factors.

Nate emphasized that selling a business doesn't have to be complicated. He shared his experience of selling a $25 million company with the help of virtual assistants. Nate offers free consultations, including a business valuation and sales plan, for businesses at least two years old and making a quarter million dollars in profit.

He stressed the importance of determining the worth of a business before deciding to sell, as it motivates the seller and attracts potential buyers. Nate also mentioned that Website Closers is a leading marketplace for digital companies, selling around 300 businesses per year.


Key Points from the Episode:

  • Nate's experiences in selling service-based and content businesses
  • Market demand for digital businesses and the appeal of operating them remotely
  • Recognition of the value of digital businesses by institutional investors
  • Valuing digital businesses and factors that affect multiples
  • Nate's own experience of selling a $25 million company with the help of virtual assistants
  • Free consultations, business valuation, and sales plan offered by Nate
  • Website Closers as a leading marketplace for digital businesses
  • Importance of confidentiality in the selling process


About Nate Lind:

Nate Lind is an accomplished American entrepreneur, triathlete, author, and business broker. Inspired by the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” he aspired for financial freedom and passive income. In 2016, he successfully exited his first venture, an e-commerce technology company that transitioned into a shopping cart platform.

Recognizing the benefits of selling a company and reinvesting in passive income, Nate embraced the role of a business broker. Working with Website Closers, the largest marketplace for Internet, Technology, and E-commerce businesses valued between $1 million to $150 million, he adeptly handles transactions akin to how Realtors sell homes.

Currently, Website Closers boasts an impressive 103 client businesses for sale, with 167,000 potential buyers actively seeking investment opportunities. Their impressive track record has facilitated over 300 company sales within their private network in the current year.

Nate Lind's diverse expertise and experience make him a key figure in entrepreneurship and business brokerage.


About Website Closers:

Website Closers, LLC operates, a full-service brokerage that assists online and internet asset entrepreneurs. Their highly experienced team goes beyond essential buyer-seller connections, offering personalized sales strategies tailored to each business owner's needs. They provide comprehensive services, including a detailed analysis of the mergers and acquisitions marketplace, business valuations, and coaching on business growth strategies.

Specializing in selling website properties, Website Closers excels in representing sellers of online assets and ensuring they connect with the right buyers at the right purchase price. Their strong relationships with various lenders nationwide enable smooth financing solutions for buyers, including expertise in successfully guiding transactions through SBA financing. With over 20 years of experience, Website Closers has earned a reputation for navigating the complexities of government-backed lending, making them a reliable choice for business owners seeking a seamless and profitable sale of their online businesses.


Tweetable Moments:

04:18 – “These businesses are the way of the future and even these old and institutional investors are like dang I need to get something that's digital or that's like growing and the pandemic put you know e-commerce and anything around e-commerce on the map as like the savior of retail so everyone's looking at it right now if you've got an internet tech digital saas company or software company you're actually in high demand you may not even know it.”

10:02 – “I sold a $25 million company, it was two founders and 15 virtual assistants, 25 million bucks. It doesn't have to be that complicated.”


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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Website Closers website at

Check out Website Closers on LinkedIn at

Check out Website Closers on Facebook at

Check out Website Closers on Twitter at

Check out Website Closers on Instagram at

Check out Nate Lind on LinkedIn at

Check out Nate Lind on Facebook at

Check out Nate Lind on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Nate Lind. Nate, you are a broker. You're a business advisor. You help create amazing exits. You are found on the web at Nate Nate, it's great to have you.

Nate (00:01:15) - That's me. Thank you so much for having me on here.

Josh (00:01:17) - Josh Yeah, absolutely. So kind of did a somewhat mediocre attempt at introducing you.

Josh (00:01:24) - Let's let's kind of hear the full story of what you do.

Nate (00:01:28) - Yeah. So I've got I'm on my third career. First career was in real estate buying and selling houses and mortgages. I learned a lot about transactional work as an intermediary there and also an investor. Then I spent about a dozen years as an e-commerce entrepreneur. I sold $109 Million worth of vitamins and supplements to consumers around the world. And I met the founders of website Closers at a mastermind I was hosting, and I was just in love with the idea of the mergers and acquisitions space. At that point in time. I'd already exited a couple of different ventures and I thought, Well, shoot, maybe I should. And I had this massive network of entrepreneurs that were joining my masterminds. I was thinking, Man, the deal flow here would be incredible from my own network. So I joined them as a broker. I ended up buying the Puerto Rico franchise. I moved to Puerto Rico, and now I'm one of the rainmakers. I've got two associate brokers on my team and we're wheeling and dealing lower middle market and small business, e-commerce, digital marketing, podcasts, anything, digital tech, software, you name it, we sell it.

Nate (00:02:32) - And yeah, we're one of the we're one of the largest franchises of the firm and we're shaking a bacon all day long.

Josh (00:02:38) - Yeah, you know, a lot of time. And you know, when you think of M&A, you know, you might think of more established legacy brick and mortar type businesses. You know, they have assets and that sort of thing. But, you know, when you start talking about service based businesses, content, you know, business. Tell me more about some of those use cases or experiences you've had in those areas.

Nate (00:03:00) - Yeah, that's all we sell. We we have built a buyer's network. We've got over 100,000 buyers. We're signing up 500 to 800 a week to our email list. The firm's founders, Jason and Ron, started the company 13 years ago. We've sold over 3000 businesses. We've got 100 for sale right now. There's a lot of market action going on for these businesses. And every time we have a new listing, it's kind of like the the McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King effect.

Nate (00:03:26) - Anytime someone comes to one of them, they're looking at one or the others. So I was just on the phone with a guy who had a water bottle company, e-commerce company. And we've got a we've got a stainless steel water bottle company for sale. Right now. It's making $1.5 Million worth of trailing 12 months earnings and it's for sale for 7 million bucks. And I told him we've already got that one listed. If we get you listed like the 150 buyers that have signed an NDA to that one are surely going to be interested in yours too. So it's really just been kind of a slow push, slow grog over the years. But we found that our buyers love these digital businesses because most of them are able to be operated remotely. And so that opens the buyer market. You know, if you compare this to to the brick and mortar universe in Houston, your pool of buyers is Houston buyers. But for us, we have, you know, US based companies that are selling to people internationally or to anyone anywhere in the US.

Nate (00:04:18) - So it really opens the pool of buyers. And I think a lot of digital software, tech, Internet based business founders are oblivious to the market right now. And even though there's all this doom and gloom and inflation, this and, you know, recession that, I'm still getting 150, 200 buyers for every listing. And we're getting a huge influx of interest because these businesses are the way of the future. And even these old and institutional investors are like, Dang, I need to get something that's digital or that's like growing. And the pandemic put, you know, e-commerce and anything around e-commerce on the map as like the savior of of retail. So everyone's looking at it right now. If you've got an Internet tech, digital SaaS company or software company, you're actually in high demand. You may not even know it.

Josh (00:05:08) - What sorts of exits are you seeing in specifically? Obviously, you use the term multiples as, you know, a term that's used quite a bit. So with those types of companies, what can the range be on multiples? And, you know, maybe some are going to be smaller, some are going to be a little bit larger.

Josh (00:05:25) - What what are some trends you see around that?

Nate (00:05:27) - Yeah, it's that's a really tough question because it's so unique per company. I on our marketplace we've seen everything from one X to ten X of trailing 12 months seller discretionary earnings. What does that mean? That's what you're making what you as the owner what are you actually pocketing? We're not talking about taking out the expenses of your Tesla or your cell phone that that's not real income to you. We're actually adding that back in. We're adding in your salary. This is before taxes. This is before interest. If you've got a loan, we're not counting that against you. So I literally have just done a video on my YouTube channel about what the heck is seller discretionary earnings, because most people have no idea. They keep asking me what's their multiple? The better question to ask is what's your earnings? Because your multiple means nothing if you don't know what your earnings are. But we'll see anywhere a business that is really stagnant and stale. It's having a hard time like actually getting any sales going on right now.

Nate (00:06:24) - It's not worth very much. But businesses that are growing, man growing businesses, you're talking four X to six X of trailing 12 months earnings. So if you're making a million bucks now, you're a 4 to $6 Million company. If you're making 10 million bucks now, like once you're getting like bigger and bigger, your your multiple starts to go up as well. There's 27 factors that go into what your multiple is. And I've got a seven video series on my YouTube channel that's coming out. The first video is going to drop in the next week or so. And then I've got subsequent videos where I break down your financials, your marketing and your operations, and and I also provide a self assessment Excel file that you can download and then you can kind of watch these videos and then assess yourself on what your multiple is. The short answer your question is, I got no clue because I don't know which company I'm talking about, but generally speaking, my companies that I'm selling or my clients companies, I'm tending to sell most of them in the in the 3.5 to 6 x multiple range.

Nate (00:07:23) - I've got a podcast right now for 15 million bucks. That's A7X multiple. And we've got people like, like the haters out there. Like there's no way it's worth that much. But I have in my inbox a full price. LOI We haven't closed yet now so I'll, I'll state that. But there is active buyer interest and they are willing to put the farm on the line to, to, to buy these digital businesses.

Josh (00:07:45) - Mm hmm. For someone that's listening to a conversation and there are a few years out before their exit, what are the kinds of things that they should be doing now so that they can get that exit that they're looking for?

Nate (00:07:58) - You soft balled my book. So literally to all of your audience, I'm giving away my book for free. It's only about 130 pages, but I get into that. What's your multiple? Who's buying? How much do they pay? And the answers to 12 other critical questions you need to know to sell your business for top dollar. This is an exit planning book in 130 pages.

Nate (00:08:19) - There are people that that are charging ridiculous retainers. I do this for free all the time. It's not that complicated. Some simple things that you want to do is you really want to focus on your profit. I just had this conversation with a guy the other day. He's got a $12 Million gross sales company and almost no profit. I'm like, Oh my God, you need to get profitable. Like cut any excessive headcount that you've got, cut any excessive expenses. He's like, Well, I've been building for growth. I've been putting money into technology. I'm like, okay, that's great. And now stop it, Now make yourself profitable. So the first thing you really need to do is you need to focus on your profit first. The second thing that you should that you should be doing to is thinking about how to create some barriers of entry between you and your competitors and do that. If you're an e-commerce company, go ahead and get some design patents, get some trademarks, get something that will create some defensive ability for yourself.

Nate (00:09:14) - If your business to business, if you're a service company or service agency and I sell digital marketing agencies all the time and other business to business agencies all the time, you're some key things that you can do is start to put in place longer term contracts with your clients. So you've got a contractual relationship for your services as opposed to just month to month and go back and look at your client. So who's been with you for a year or two? Who's been with you for a while? Go back to them first and say, I want to put you on three months and three month contracts or six month contracts. Grow those things out as much as you can. A couple other things that you can be doing to is start to think about how are you going to transition the company to somebody else? Are you going to be working in the business long term, or do you want to like step away? If you want to step away, start delegating things now, start hiring the people that you need to.

Nate (00:10:02) - And I'm not talking about $150,000 Yale grad. I'm talking like virtual assistants, for crying out loud. I sold a $25 million company. It was two founders and 15 virtual assistants. 25 million bucks. It doesn't have to be that complicated. So there are some quick things and I get into a bunch of stuff like I can talk about that. I mean, you can read the book. It takes an hour to read it. Like I've got an hour's worth of conversation just going on there. Or I'm on audible too. You can listen to me on Audible.

Josh (00:10:26) - I just saw that. So yeah, at Nate, you just click on the red button, get your copy right now. Takes you in to Amazon. If you've got Kindle Unlimited, I just I just downloaded it for free. Audiobook is 599, so not a bad investment in its own right. You know, for someone who has that on their radar, um, what is the process like when someone starts getting pretty serious about, okay, time to feel like we've got really good bones, we've got good framework here and they want to begin that process with you.

Josh (00:11:00) - Like what are those initial conversations sound like?

Nate (00:11:03) - The first step is like what you would do with real estate. How much is your house worth? Know So we do the same thing here. How much is your business worth? I do free consultations, which includes a business valuation and a sales plan all day long. You can book a call with me on Nate Land. That's what I do. So if you've got a company that's two years or older, it's making at least a quarter million dollars in profit. I can do a free business valuation for you If you're not there yet, you're feel free to submit a form. I'll probably have one of my associates help you. I tend to focus on the larger deals, but everything starts with how much is the company worth? Because that's really what inspires. Like, okay, am I motivated to actually sell this thing? Like, am I going to get some some dollar bills to make it worth my while? And usually I'm involved in the largest liquidity event of my founders lives, my clients lives.

Nate (00:11:48) - And this is you have to be really tender and careful with this because if you go out with them crazy number, you're going to get completely ghosted by buyers. And if you go out with too little like you're you're shortchanging yourself, you're just blowing away cash. So it's is just like in real estate. It's a broker's price opinion. I'm giving you a valuation that's I do an assessment of your seller discretionary earnings which talked about a little bit ago. And then also compare that to other businesses like yours that have sold. That's if you're not talking to somebody who's doing comparables based on like sales, you're talking to the wrong person. And we're the £800 gorilla for these digital businesses. We sell so many of these 300 a year we sell. So there's really nowhere else to go. If you're in this space, some folks will go to like, you know, investment banks or some will go to smaller brokerages out there. You're really doing yourself a disservice because you want to be on the biggest marketplace, just like if you had a, you know, a half $1 million or $1 million house or a $3 million house, are you going to list it for sale by owner or are you going to like do some self listing thing or do you want to use the person who's already selling your houses in your neighborhood for the most amount of money on the MLS where that MLS.

Josh (00:12:57) - Yeah. You know, so kind of interesting. So you have obviously the association with website closers. And so just at their website too, I clicked on businesses for sale business listings and it's kind of interesting, just kind of flip through just to see kind of what's going right now or what's being sold or what's being listed. Kind of give you some ideas. But I see a lot of, you know, cash flow anywhere between, you know, just under $200,000 to 2 million. And you can kind of see exactly these. These are going to be likely priced pretty accurately. So this might give you some ideas to our friend that's listening or a conversation. Yeah, that's the kind of things that you might expect.

Nate (00:13:41) - Yep. Yeah. You can go on there and look to see what's already listed and then you can copy and paste that into the contact form to me and ask for more information. Usually that's where we go. Like we're, we, we're a performance based sales firm, so we just like a realtor.

Nate (00:13:55) - If we don't sell it, we don't get paid. So it's not really in our interest to listings that are like crazy high priced or to try to list stuff that's like basically not going to sell or will only sell with like some sort of a seller finance situation because we're incentivized to get cash for our clients. That's what our clients want. They want a big a big exit event. They want to put some money in the bank and I don't know if any of your audience members out there have listened to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That's where it's all started for me. I wanted passive income and boom, 20 years later it's like, dang, I don't have a passive income portfolio the way that I would like it. So let me focus more of my attention on it. And you need to have some some dollars to be able to put those those to at work for you. And having a big exit event like this is the best way to put to create a war chest of money to go out and buy those passive investments.

Josh (00:14:45) - Yeah. Just out of curiosity, Nate, in your experience, what do your sellers end up doing after they sell? What, like, you know, if you have obviously keep tabs on them, but you what is that first year like after exit?

Nate (00:14:59) - Yeah, they usually take a sabbatical or a vacation for a while. It may be one of the biggest or longest vacations of their lives can be anywhere from like 3 to 6 months and then they typically are back at it. Oh, yeah. If they have if they have an exit that's under ten. Are usually building another business or they've already thought about that before they've sold. And I get a lot of people that they're selling. There's three big reasons you're bored, you're burnt out, or you've got a burning passion and you want to go focus on it. And so for that third group, you want to sell the business, you want to get some good money for it, but you're you are dying to get after something else. Like there's something else that's driving you.

Nate (00:15:36) - And for them, they're there right after it. And, you know, it's really inspiring to see what people are doing because they definitely take some time off and a lot of people will pay off their houses. Someone, a couple of them I've heard about some exotic sports cars and and then the majority of them get back to work or they've or they've already started it and they just now are focusing all of their attention on it. When you've got an over $10 Million deal, typically you were involved in that transaction for a couple extra years. It's pretty tough to sell over $10 Million and not be involved for 2 to 5 more years. Those big businesses in the private equity and hedge funds and family offices that buy those, they want a commitment from the seller to ensure that that business is successful and they're not going to put eight figures on the line unless they've got that commitment in the form of multiple years from the from the owner.

Josh (00:16:26) - A transaction like that, you're likely not just, okay, here's the key.

Nate (00:16:29) - You know, I've done a couple of them, but yeah, those are rare. The majority are. You've got to be involved for a while.

Josh (00:16:36) - Um, what does that involvement? I mean, I mean, I guess the involvement can look like anything but what, what are some common, like, how does, how does life before and after that transaction changed for the seller?

Nate (00:16:48) - That's a great question. A lot of people are concerned that their work life is going to get skewed more towards work. That's never the case. The the buyer wants you to work only on what is the highest and best use of your time, and usually they will have already some back office support for accounting and for technology and for other aspects of the business that maybe are consuming some of your time. And they're not particularly your passion. A lot of my founders, they're real creative and they want to spend money doing new product development they want or they love the sales cycle. So on the service and agency side, they're involved in the sales process still, or at least in the strategy of that.

Nate (00:17:29) - And they tend to focus more on that and most of the time they're able to carve off or peel back some of their work efforts. So if they were working 40, 40 hours a week before they're within a month or two, they're working 30 hours a week and then down to 20 hours a week. And depending on what their agreement is with with the buyer, they may end up moving into a board of advisor sort of role and just be strategic. Some of them end up only having conference call every quarter and then they're just involved like literally on the quarterly meetings for, for the meeting of the board members. And but you're right, it can look a variety of different ways. If I can't think of a single story where someone said, I'm working harder now than I was before, I've never heard that from any of my clients that have exited.

Josh (00:18:17) - Yeah, nor have I, as I've talked with folks in exit. So yeah believe you your website Nate the book is maximum exit You can grab it for free just click on the red button That'll take you immediately there you can grab it.

Josh (00:18:32) - You know, like I said, I've done it's gone to my device right now. Can't wait to read it. Nate, this has been fantastic. Did I cover everything? Was there something else that you know, someone that's listening should do? Take action. Obviously book with you if they ready for that serious conversation.

Nate (00:18:47) - Yeah, definitely. If you have an interest in what is your business worth? I don't have any obligation. I love doing business valuations and getting to know what businesses are out there. But if you want the free copy, you can for sure I'll take all your money all day long. You can go to Amazon and pay them. I don't really get much money from it, but if you want a free version, go to Nate forward slash gift G. There we go. My gift to your audience members for the small price of an email address and a couple of follow up emails and to get to know you a little bit, the book is free. If you never want to hear from me, then go on over to Amazon and you can buy it from them.

Nate (00:19:19) - They don't share any information from me. I'll never know who you are and when the time is right, you can reach out to me. If the time is never right. I'm hoping you get a little bit of additional information that can help you on your journey.

Josh (00:19:29) - I have no incentive in doing so, but there is a I'm just looking at that right now. There is a little form field to our listener. Do me a favor, let Nate know that podcasts like this do matter. They're great for connecting people. There's a form field that says, Which podcast did you hear me on? Go ahead and put the thoughtful entrepreneur in there and I'd consider it a favor.

Nate (00:19:51) - Yeah, that would be awesome. I've gotten quite a few people that do are thoughtful. They they type it in and now I know exactly which one. And that encourages me to reach back out to the host that had me and say, okay, well, we had 20 submissions. We probably need to have you back on there.

Nate (00:20:04) - There could be some more questions here.

Josh (00:20:05) - Yeah. Nate Land, again, author of the book Maximum Exit, the website. Nate Lindley. Get the free book maximum exit. Nate, it's been great having you.

Nate (00:20:18) - Thanks, Josh.

Josh (00:20:25) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right. Seven days a week.

Josh (00:21:20) - You are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed. I promise to bring positivity and inspiration to you for around 15 minutes each day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the thoughtful entrepreneur movement.

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