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SELLING A BUSINESS

A Business Owner Learns a Lesson
 

Dividend.com founder Paul Rubillo liked his company, but dreamed of following his passion. As he learned, sometimes your dream business is totally overrated.
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When he first listed Dividend.com for sale last year, Paul Rubillo was intent on a career change. He hoped to sell the financial website, on which he covered dividend-paying stocks, and begin writing about sports through his other website, Hotstove.com. Rubillo had been writing about the stock market since 2008, and he was ready to follow his passion.

After Inc. published the "Business for Sale" article on Dividend.com in April, Rubillo says several interested parties came knocking, but no one made a firm offer. Meanwhile, Hotstove.com was struggling to draw a large enough audience to generate income. Unlike his highly-profitable niche business wesbite, Rubillo realized that any start-up sports site would need to draw millions of visitors each month to even begin earning any kind of revenue.

Worse, to attract those fans, Rubillo would need to keep up the constant stream of sports information—which would mean a work-life-balance-destroying regimin of blogging 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "I started asking myself, 'What am I doing?'" says Rubillo. "We were making good money with Dividend.com and it was growing. It gave me a much needed shot of appreciation for what we already had."

Meanwhile, Dividend.com continued to gain momemtum. The number of paid subscribers has nearly doubled to 2,600 since April, while the number of unique visitors per month has grown from 85,000 to 155,000. Even better, revenue is up by 51 percent due to the increased traffic as well as a $30 price hike that Rubillo put in place this past August.

Given his new appreciation for his business, Rubillo decided to take it off the market last fall, instead selling the Hotstove.com domain to the owners of a competing site called Mlbtraderumors.com. He also decided to become an author, writing a book called Be A Dividend Millionaire, that will be published in April 2011.

"Life is full of really crazy turns," he says. The business you have, it seems, may turn out to be better than the business you dream about.

Last updated: Feb 13, 2011

DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.




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