I’ll take two!: How to buy (or sell) a job board

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By now you’ve crawled out from the piles of emails and messages accumulated during the holiday break (I hope), so it’s a great time to talk about buying and selling. As recent headlines have shown, there is still money to be made in the job board business (how can 100K job boards be wrong, after all?). So let’s say you have a spare $200K to $5M that you’re just dying to invest in the job board industry. What do you need to know?

  • Niche matters: Unless you have a limitless supply of capital, you’re best off investing in a niche site. The days of launching a generalist job board on a wing and a prayer are long gone.
  • The right niche matters: Is the target market growing? Underserved? In high demand? Well, you might have found your job board. On the other, if the site targets a market that is shrinking or stagnant, is tiny, or is flooded with competitors – umm, you might want to take a pass.
  • A new can opener: Technology doesn’t usually matter – unless the job board offers something truly new under the sun. How many times have I actually seen sites like this? Maybe a dozen times in 15 years. So go ahead – be skeptical. But if you find one – it might be worth grabbing.
  • Stuck in the 90s: Let’s be honest – 95% of job boards contain the same functionality. So differentiation is more about the site’s focus – and how it looks. Does your potential acquisition look like a throwback to this? Keep walking.
  • Metrics, metrics, metrics: You’re buying a business – so the numbers matter (unless, again, you have a potful of cash – in which case, give me a call!). What are the number of registered candidates? Resumes? Clients? Average revenue per client? Site traffic? Mobile traffic? Etc. And don’t forget – how are those numbers trending?
  • Technical stuff: Are you going to have to replace the site software? Are you going to pay a 3rd party to support it? Are you inheriting a revenue-sharing agreement? Ask first. Don’t get surprised.

There are many more factors that go into buying a job board, of course – but this will get you started. Thinking about selling? Just flip these on their head, pretend you are buying your own site – and see if you’d actually do it. (Of course, if you need help buying or selling, you can always ask your Doctor!).

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