First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Joe Magnotti : So far my family and friends are all doing fine. I’m over living in Manila, Philippines at the moment and things did get a bit crazy for a moment with the lockdowns. Thankfully, we’re coming out of that though and things are hopefully going to get back to some level of normalcy over here.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Empire Flippers
Joe Magnotti : My business partner Justin Cooke and I started Empire Flippers way back in 2011. It initially was just a side project for our outsourcing company we had at the time. We lost a key client and we needed something for our team to do, so we built out very small websites and sold them. We decided to blog about the journey, as the process was pretty fun for us. The blog picked up steam, and soon our readers were asking if we could sell their sites. This was our lightbulb moment for Justin and me. We started selling other people’s sites and we started growing exponentially. Back then we were selling little $3,000 sites, but fast forward to today we are regularly selling 7-figure online businesses from e-commerce to SaaS and breaking into the 8-figure level.
How does Empire Flippers innovate?
Joe Magnotti : We have a very systematic approach to everything we do. We’ll create a system, see the result, and iterate on it. A lot of the innovation comes from our management team and employees nowadays as we’ve grown so large. But everything is related to systems. We ask ourselves how can we repeat this? How can we repeat this success even better? Will what we’re doing work as well at scale as it does now?
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Joe Magnotti : It was pretty touch and go there at the end of Q1 for us. There were several tough headwinds we had to pull through between e-commerce supply disruptions, Amazon only allowing essential goods into their warehouse, and Amazon cutting their Amazon Associates commissions significantly. All of these, along with the coronavirus, really impacted us in just a 2-4 week time period all at once.
While it was tough, I can tentatively say we’re back and better than ever. In Q2 we had our best month in the entire company’s history, and things are starting to pick back up. We’re seeing buyers that at first were hesitant to deploy capital, now coming onto our marketplace and gobbling up a ton of different profitable businesses.
We hope the trend will continue, but we’re prepared if it doesn’t thanks to the work our team put in over the last few months.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Joe Magnotti : Difficult choices are just the nature of the game when it comes to entrepreneurship. Whether you’re in good times or bad times, difficult choices will always arise. We like to ask what is the worst thing that can happen if we make this choice? What does that scenario look like if it comes to pass? Then we make a plan to address that worst-case scenario. Why the choices we make might be difficult, it is very rare that the worst-case scenario ever will happen, and if it does we have a plan for it so we can approach our decisions with more confidence.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Empire Flippers in the future ?
Joe Magnotti : I think it’s important, especially as someone working and running a remote company, to take time for yourself. It is easy to be stuck at home and just working around the clock and it can drive you crazy. The thing is, working around the clock is often less productive than taking breaks and working at a more normal pace. But it’s easy to trick yourself into becoming a workaholic. Personally, I take breaks to go do something I enjoy unrelated to business. Our team follows this process too. If you don’t take care of yourself and do something you really enjoy from time to time, then your work is going to suffer. It sounds counterintuitive, but strongly emphasizing vacation and time off is one of the best things you can do to keep your team productive.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Joe Magnotti : Most of our competitors are one-person companies selling businesses. The majority of business brokers are made up like this. We have a few bigger competitors, but we’ve been able to become the largest curated marketplace in the world for online businesses despite them being good at what they do. While I’m often looking at competitors, I am always reminded by some of my team that the competition isn’t as big of a thing as you may think. If you want to beat the competition, just look to be more valuable to your customer, do a better job, and that market share and brand loyalty will be yours. When we think about the long-term, we are always asking how can we help our customers even more? How can we make their experience easier?
Your final thoughts
Joe Magnotti : Empire Flippers has seen explosive growth. Only 4 years ago our team was less than 10 full time staff, and now we’re above 60. The growth has been tremendous and I’ve learned a ton throughout the ride. Entrepreneurship is an amazing career path, it is not without the hard times but it is filled with amazing, life changing times too. I am excited for the future, as I believe not only will we continue to be the #1 largest curated marketplace for online businesses in the world, but we will also become the de facto business broker for 8-figure e-commerce and SaaS entrepreneurs when they decide it’s time to make a profitable exit.
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