How to Build to Sell

It's crazy how keeping in the forefront of your mind that "the only reason I am building this thing is to sell it" can cause you to strategically position yourself to build in such a way that increases the odds of said outcome.

How to Build to Sell
Build a side project with the end goal of selling it

Hey, Stephen here from Tiny Acquisitions.

I have been in my own head lately running tiny acquisitions and have somehow gotten into the rut of just lurking on twitter, checking emails often and just doing little tweaks in the backend. This has caused my creative juices to stop flowing a bit and this has taken a toll on my communication with the community. So I am starting this blog with the first post on "building a side project with the end goal of selling it in mind."

It's crazy how keeping in the forefront of your mind that "the only reason I am building this thing is to sell it" can cause you to strategically position yourself to build in such a way that increases the odds of said outcome. Maybe some of you are reading and thinking well, how do I build something with that goal in mind?

I have seen a whole bunch of projects get sold on Tiny Acquisitions and have helped a lot of sellers with the hand over process, so I have picked up a few tricks here and there so that I can put together some tips on how to get this done. Also I sold a project myself and it was fairly smooth because I had prepared myself days before in case someone were to just come with an offer to purchase it.

So here it is, I'm gonna give three (3) simple points:

1. Use a Custom Domain Email Address for all your Utility Accounts

Most side projects (apps) are comprised of a combination of tools tied together to achieve a particular goal that solves a problem. There are a few basic functions that are carried out within most apps:

  1. Creating user accounts
  2. Collecting data via forms
  3. Storing data in a database
  4. Displaying the data on front end
  5. Payment processing
  6. Email marketing
  7. Code repository/No code platform
  8. Social media

We tend to use established services that are already optimized to accomplish these functions. Some of these services include gumroad, memberstack, airtable, webflow, bubble, stripe, paddle, sendgrid, & github etc.

Generally what you want to do in setting up user accounts with each of these services that you use to put your app together, is to set them up with an email address that is not linked to any other personal project or used for any other purpose. You want to be able to transfer every utility account linked to your side project to a buyer by transferring the domain name to them and the corresponding custom domain email address.

Say for instance your project is built on tinyproject.io, you want to maybe create an email account called support@tinyproject.io and use that email to sign up with all of your utility accounts. That way when you transfer the domain name, tinyproject.io to the buyer, they will be able to access all the accounts in one go by virtue of acquiring the host custom domain for the email address.

So setting up your project utility user accounts with a gmail email address that's tied to several other projects would be messy and would give you a lot of headache in the transfer process.

This sounds simple, but it is very important for a smooth handover of a project.

2. Have a video walk-through of how everything works

A buyer coming along may have a preliminary look at your project and could immediately decide to purchase it just based on the value proposition.

This is a good time to give them a walk-through of all the features you built out and a basic outline of what each page, popup, button and form etc. accomplishes. Having a pre-recorded video of this comes in really handy. You save time in just sending that link to the buyer so they understand exactly what the app does.

Taking this further, you could have a video walk-through of what's happening in the back-end that maybe an engineer could review before the purchase (of course, you would keep proprietary stuff hidden). This saves you a lot of time.

I have seen some of our sellers on Tiny Acquisitions have a text file checklist prepared before hand for the buyer to have a smooth project handover. The buyer then follows the instructions to receive the project; whether it is receiving a custom code pushed to their github account, transferring the domain name from one registrar to another or taking control of a utility account. This checklist would go well with that walk-through video and gives the buyer confidence that they will have a good experience picking up from where you left off.

3. Build In Public from the very beginning

Building in public creates an audience that becomes familiar with the updates you provide on the side project that you are building to sell. What happens sometimes is that your buyer may come from this audience as they have really been interested in what you have been building.

You always want to keep that side project maintained until you are ready to sell. Ensure that there aren't any broken links or major bugs that would turn off a buyer. Keep building the project until that buyer comes along or at least keep it functioning to a fair degree. This is very important as this can delay a possible acquisitions as the buyer may request fixes before they take the project over. Sometimes the buyer is willing to pay for your time to conduct these fixes but any delay in selling the project would be undesirable.

Well those are a few points I wanted to leave with you, I hope this is helpful. Please let me know what you would want me to touch on next.

My email: stephen@tinyacquisitions.com

Have a good one :)