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How to buy an online business in the UK

Buy online business uk

Buying an existing online business in the UK may provide you with a better chance of success than if you had to start your own business from scratch, and that is why buying online businesses is so popular for many entrepreneurs, and not just in the UK!

Online businesses also offer a range of businesses over brick-and-mortar businesses. In this article, we’ll discuss some of these benefits as well as some of the ins and outs of buying an online business in the UK.

What is the definition of an online business?

An online business is a business where most if not all of the business proceedings are done online through the internet. This means online advertising, a great website that has e-commerce facilities, business meetings that are done through Zoom, and speaking to clients online.  Some of the most popular and most successful online businesses include Amazon, Facebook and Netflix. While these businesses may have headquarters and offices, most of their business proceedings are done entirely online.

How to buy an online business for sale in the UK

Buying an online business in the UK is relatively straightforward, and many online companies are sold in the UK each and every day.

Know what you are looking for

Before you start looking into purchasing an online business, it is important to have an approximate idea of what you are looking for. Investing in a business is quite a big decision, so you should take the time to do some research before you start looking. You may want to speak to trusted business consultants and/or other professionals when seeking advice.

Know your budget

Some online businesses are very affordable but even so, it is good to know what’s available and comfortable to spend.

See what is out there

There are literally thousands of online businesses for sale in the UK. You could go to a business consultant to ask about opportunities or browse sites like and to find potential businesses that you may be interested in.

Speak to sellers

Don’t hesitate to speak to sellers to gain further details about these businesses. Ask questions about their monthly turnover and what exactly is included in the sale of the company. Asking for paperwork and ensuring that the business is fully registered with the HMRC will also help ensure that you aren’t buying into a scam site. Remember that just like the purchasing of any other business, you are able to try to negotiate the deal.

Obtain finance if needed

Perhaps the business that you are interested in is a little out of your budget. Then you may need to get finance. Most banks and private lenders should have no trouble lending for an online business, although you’ll need to bring along your credit history as well as the business specs and other documents and information if you want your finance to be approved.

Buy your online business

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Even if you have come to an agreement with the seller, the sale could still fall through. Conditions to finalise the sale include:

  • Verification of all financial statements
  • The transfer of all contracts and licenses
  • Transfer of the finance
  • Transfer of VAT registration if applicable

The sale of an online business should also include the login details to the website as well as social media accounts, and access to the business’s databases.

Why buy an online business for sale?

There are many reasons why an entrepreneur may be interested in an online business over that of a brick-and-mortar business. Online businesses are more resistant to things like the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected hundreds of brick-and-mortar businesses in the UK. Furthermore, many online businesses are easy to manage from the comfort of your home, and many more business owners prefer to work from home.

While an online business may not be for everyone, there are many benefits that come along with this type of business model, which we’ll discuss later on in this article.

What are some of the types of online businesses for sale available?

When you start looking for an online business to buy in the UK, you’ll realise that there are so many different types available, and there should definitely be something that is within your budget and in line with your interests and skillsets. Some of the most popular types of online businesses include:


A successful ecommerce store is always a great investment when considering what type of online business you’d like to buy. Ensure that you fully understand the manufacturing and delivery process before investing!

Virtual services

There are so many different types of virtual service businesses available. These can include virtual assistant services, copywriting, graphic design, app development, and so much more. Look for a virtual services business that already has a great reputation and many loyal clients.

Affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing is a rather complex marketing network but can be incredibly profitable and easy to run once you get the hang of it, making affiliate marketing programs a very popular choice.

Owning an application

Did you know that the average person uses 9 mobile apps on their phone every day? Application development has become a booming industry, and owning an app of your own could prove to be extremely profitable so long as you fulfil a gap in the market that has not already been filled. There are so many different already established apps that are up for sale. Look and find one that you believe in and that appeals to you!

Online course website

Online courses are becoming more and more popular, and the online course business model provides many opportunities for business success.

Online auction business

The world is going further and further into the digital sphere, and this means that even auctions are being done online. An online auction business could be a very exciting business model for you to try out and would definitely be something different from the norm.

Online directory

Having an online directory is a very easy way to make money through an online business. Other businesses pay you to have their businesses listed, and the process is exceptionally simple. That being said, respected online directories can be sold for a fair bit of money, and the new owners can expect to make their money back through advertising.

What are the benefits of owning an online business?

Buying and owning an online business comes with many exciting benefits, and this is why so many business owners are looking to online businesses instead of brick-and-mortar businesses. Some of the benefits include:

Affordable prices

Online businesses are often a lot more affordable than brick-and-mortar businesses as they don’t have as many physical assets. This means that even those with small budgets and who do not want to take out business finance have the opportunity to become business owners through owning an online business.

Built-in customers and database

Most online businesses come with quite a large built-in base of customers and leads, making it easy for you to retain customers, follow up with leads and make those all-important sales! The previous business owner would have done a lot of the groundwork for you, saving you a lot of time, effort, and expertise.

Low running costs

Running an online business is often quite cheap in comparison to a brick-and-mortar business. Depending on the type of business, you may be able to handle a lot of the tasks yourself and be able to work from home, meaning that you don’t need to pay wages or rent. Online businesses are known for being very affordable to run, and the low running costs make them less of a risk.

Flexible growth

Online businesses allow for flexible growth. If you start making more sales than usual, it should be significantly easier to handle than if you had a brick-and-mortar business or physical shop, as there are fewer processes involved in making a sale.

International audience

Online businesses open you up to a massive international audience to whom you can sell products and services. You are not simply limited to customers in your local areas, as you would be with a physical shop.

Less waste

Online businesses are surprisingly sustainable. Because everything is done online, there is less waste in terms of paper, electricity, water, and other resources. This is another reason why online businesses are becoming so increasingly popular.

Easy to resell

If you ever get bored of your online business or want to go into something else, it should be relatively easy to resell it. And you can potentially turn quite a large profit when you resell if you have upgraded your business and put time and effort into making it better than it was and obtaining more customers.

You can travel

Keen on travelling, well with an online business, you can operate your business from anywhere in the world. You needn’t be in the office all day long, and you are able to live the much-coveted digital nomad lifestyle and travel as you please, with your only need being a reliable internet connection.

[Sub-Header] What are some things to avoid when buying an online business in the UK?

When buying an online business in the UK, there are a few things that you should avoid, including:

Not being aware of online business laws

As a business owner, it is up to you to be aware of the business laws in the UK. Just like other businesses, online businesses need to pay taxes, be registered and have certain licenses. Depending on what type of business you buy, different laws could be applicable to you. You’ll also need to look into payment gateways, age restrictions, shipping restrictions, and business insurance. Believe us; you want to ensure that everything is completely above board when buying a business. The previous business owners may not have done everything by the book, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t!

Buying into a scam

Unfortunately, there are many scam artists out there that will do their ultimate best to get you to hand over your money to them. While some may be selling an actual business, they may be faking some of their sales data to give you the impression that the business is more successful than it already is. Trust your intuition, and do not fall for these scams. Some red flags include:

  • A price that is too good to be true
  • Bad communication
  • Not being able to present certain documents

If something feels off, then it probably is. Do not hesitate to turn to a business consultant when trying to ascertain whether the sale of an online business may be a scam or not.

Buying a business that you know nothing about

While you don’t need to be an expert in technology to purchase a smartphone application, you should at least have some sort of idea as to how the application works and a basic understanding of the technology used in the app’s functioning. This will allow you to solve problems that you experience along the way and not have to call in an expert every time something goes wrong. Buying an online business within an industry that you’re interested in is also more likely to keep you engaged and excited about your business, and always look for new ways to improve and adapt it.

Not making the most of online marketing

Just because an online business is an already established business does not mean that you have the luxury of being lazy when it comes to online marketing. If you really want your business to thrive, you’ll have to make the most of the online marketing channels available to you, such as Google ads, display marketing, and social media marketing.

It is important to do your research when buying an online business in the UK, and this article is a great start! If you come across a quality online business, it could be a great investment that could make you a lot of money.


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