- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (December 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591845823
- ISBN-13: 978-1591845829
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: 556 customer ratings
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You Paperback – December 24, 2012
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—Bo Burlingham, author of Small Giants (from the Foreword)
“There is no tooth fairy for selling a business. It takes planning and a real understanding of what works. I bet you’ll find yourself (like me) recommending this book to your friends who want to sell their businesses one day but don’t understand what that’s going to take.”
—Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
About the Author
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In BUILT TO SELL, however, John Warrilow draws on his personal experience in starting and selling four companies to craft an entertaining primer. The "story" of Alex Stapleton and his marketing company compose most of the book. Frustrated, Alex decides to sell the company, and while discussing his lot with mentor Ted, he discovers (as many entrepreneurs do) that he has nothing to sell. To paraphrase Michael Gerber, THE E-MYTH REVISITED, Alex really has a job with a lunatic for a boss.
Through Ted's tips and coaching Alex eventually builds a business he can sell. The lessons Alex learns apply to anyone who owns a business.
Specialize, don't generalize
Create a scalable product or service that is teachable, valuable and repeatable
Don't concentrate more than 15% with one customer
The business can't rely on you, the owner
There are 35 wonderful pages that follow the fable, the Implementation Guide and Ted's Tips, highlighted and standing alone.
Since reading Warrilow's book...in one day...I have recommended or purchased it for a number of my customers and business colleagues.
It is super important to think strategically and start planning early for your exit. If your exit strategy is to liquidate assets and close up shop, then you don’t really need to read this book. However, if you want to sell your business and not just close your doors, then you’ve got to craft a plan and start early!!
Some key take always:
If you intend to put your business up for sale or position it to be acquired someday, you CAN NOT be the sole reason for the success of your business! If the success or failure is strictly dependent upon you and/or your partner working with your customers, then your sales multiple will be strongly discounted and you will earn a lot less at closing than is possible!! You need a strong management and sales team in place and you need a system for getting things done that is NOT reliant on YOU personally. You need to develop a specialty - being a jack of all trades, but master of none is NOT a recipe for success!
You really need to read this book! It's an easy read...very engaging and easy to understand. Written in a very conversational tone and just makes SENSE!
The fictional story follows Alex, who runs a marketing design firm that he decides he wants to sell. Alex seeks advice from his friend Ted, a serial entrepreneur with a few successful exits under his belt. Through their weekly conversations, Ted asks pointed questions to understand Alex’s business and his motivations to sell. Each chapter is then built around what’s happening in the business (ex: a lucrative client that soaks up all of Alex and his team’s capacity), Ted’s advice on how to solve the problem, and then Alex implementing said advice and making progress on turning around his business and transforming it into something much more valuable.
There are numerous lessons that Ted uses to lead Alex to a successful sale. All are valuable, but all are tethered to creating a standard offering and process that’s easy to control, price, and sell. In Alex’s case, it’s a 5-step logo design process that he offers and delivers to clients. It helps Alex to specialize his business which makes it easier to standardize his sales process, which leads to more recurring revenue, and align his company’s resources (e.g., staffing, internal operating model). It’s a effectively a system for turning services into products.
Not only does it very effectively demonstrate what to do VS what you shouldn't do, it shows that you can always implement these types of changes to make sure you're more prepared to sell and at the same time make your company more successful.
I also really enjoyed the way it was written, it was WAY more engaging and relatable than one of those books that just goes on and on about A-Z steps to take for your business. This actually sunk in, and showed real life application and advice all while in a fictional story! A must read for anyone looking to build a company and sell it.
He hardly ever described anyone else.
Top international reviews
It uses a fictional story of a design agency owner named Alex who is struggling with various issues and trying to grow his agency. He is mentored by Ted (the voice of wisdom) into changes he needs to make to improve his agency; specialising in one service, having detailed and easy to follow processes for staff to follow, generate recurring revenue, have a business that runs without your daily input etc.
Whilst reading this book I couldn't help but think of 'The E-Myth' book by Michael Gerber (another great book) and this book is like a fictional story of how a business owner who has read 'The E-Myth' might run an agency.
Having worked in design/marketing agencies for over 12 years my only gripe with this book is the author chose logo design as the specialism of choice for 'Alex' as it doesn't work with some of the excellent advice given in the book and this slightly lets the book down. Although I suspect the author is experienced at selling businesses I'm not sure if he's worked in a design agency.
- The book advises specialising in a service that generates recurring revenue (excellent advice) but how often does a client need a new logo? If the author had picked a marketing service that would create monthly recurring revenue this would have been a better choice (i.e. SEO, Facebook Ads, website maintenance plans etc).
- The book advises turning your services into products and putting your prices on your marketing collateral. You wouldn't do this for a 10k logo design service otherwise you’d scare potential clients away. I'm not disputing some companies will pay 10k for a logo, but this would need to be a bespoke service that would be tailored to that particular client and would be hard to ‘productise' for many clients. If you were selling logo designs for £100 a pop, then yes, the author's advice would work fine.
Don't let the logo design issue put you off as the general principles are sound, I just felt the service example could have been better thought out. It's still an easy to read page turner that delivers on the promise of the title and I highly recommend it.
The book gives a lot of great tips and insight into growing/selling a business. Even if I never end up selling my business, the book gave me lots of very good tips on managing staff, clients and growth of a business.
John's writing is easy to read. I took away a lot of value from this book, far far more than I paid for it!
This book spells out how to make your business focus on profit and growth.
I could see almost all of its points in my own business as well as mapping some of the tips to things I've already put in place, which is a great feeling to know I'm already doing most of it right.
This is the best light reading business book I've ever read and will recommend it at any chance I see. Grab a copy now!
Recommend it to my clients and now they're singing from the 'Built to Sell' hymn book too!