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Built to Sell: Turn Your Business Into One You Can Sell Paperback – February 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 310 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“John Warrillow's story gets business leaders to focus on a critical question: If others wouldn't pay a fortune for your business, do you have a business worth growing? This is essential reading for owners looking to build a valuable business.”  —Verne Harnish, founder, Gazelles, and author, The Rockefeller Habits

“Your business just might be worthless if you don't read this book.”  —John Jantsch, author, Duct Tape Marketing

“Small businesses need this book. So many business owners have the dream of building a business that's bigger than themselves, and getting away from the tyranny of constantly putting out fires. John's book is an entertaining, to-the-point way of showing them how to do it.”  —Anita Campbell, editor in chief, Small Business Trends

“Having built and sold four successful companies, John knows the secrets to creating a sellable business.”  —The E-Myth Worldwide

“Covering every important aspect of the process, from attracting multiple bidders to getting the most for your business, this book easily explains what you must know and do if you want to create a business you can sell. “  —Steve Strauss, USA Today

“One of the strengths of the book is the continuity. It was great following Alex through his trials and tribulations. Very real life. I fully intend on sharing with my customers and TEC.  I'm sure it will be a tremendous success!”  —Bruce Hunter, chair, TEC (Vistage) Canada

“Any current or aspiring service business owner should read Built to Sell and take heed of John Warrillow's valuable lessons and Alex Stapleton's enriching and engaging experience.”  —Mike Handelsman, general manager, Bizbuysell.com

About the Author

John Warrillow is an entrepreneur, speaker, the founding producer of a nationally syndicated radio feature Today’s Entrepreneur and the author of Drilling for Gold. Bo Burlingham is the editor at large of Inc. magazine and the author of The Knack, Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, and A Stake in the Outcome. He lives in Berkeley, California.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Flip Jet Media, Inc.; 1 edition (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986480312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986480317
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,330,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The only thing wrong with this book is the title. "Built To Sell" is catchy but the book is really about how to create value in a business that's separate from you, the owner. Sure, if you want to sell your business, you need to do that, but you need to do it for the good of the business whatever your plans. "Built To Sell" is about creating business value, whether you're going to sell or not. It's also a great read. It's told as a story. That's not unusual today in a business book, but most are clunky efforts that make you wince. Not this one. I read it on a flight and kept reading at the airport when I disembarked, just to finish it. I have a little business now and during the 80s and 90s I ran a business that sold to little businesses around the country (we had a million customers). I know this market -- every small business owner should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing tool. Finally someone has cracked the code on what it takes to have a saleable business. I have created and sold 2 businesses - the hard way, without maximizing my return - I am now reengineering my current business with Warrillow's guidance, so I don't make the same mistakes again. This book is a quick, (who's got time?) fun, easy read, full of simple to GET principles. You can start to effect positive change the minute you put it down. My tip: Buy a few copies, for each of your senior people - you won't want to wait for this one to be passed around!
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Format: Hardcover
Built to Sell
by John Warrillow
flipjetmedia, 2010
160 pages, $25.95

This is a book every entrepreneur must read, whether or not they are going to sell their business. Years ago I read a book stating that there are people good at starting an enterprise, those who can make it profitable, others who excel at sustaining it and finally, a unique few individuals who can figure out how to profitably get out from under it. A business needs all four. This book dramatizes how one person can accomplish each of these steps. As someone who ran a small ad agency for ten years like the one used as an example, I didn't see the slightest misstep in this examination of the ups and downs of owning a business. We all need a light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the author the secret to business success seems to be to move from a service provider to providing a unique product (or product-like service). Two problems: 1) There are businesses that don't follow this model that are successful, 2) Things change and the context in which these products are offered is variable.

Oh, how I wish I could have had this book back then! These are the elements a business owner needs to come to terms with (and some of the reasons why he or she has a hard time doing that). $[...] is expensive for a little book, but it is the best business investment you will ever make.

Buy It: X Library: Skip It:

John Lehman, [...]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Built To Sell" is less a manual on how to sell your service business and more an examination of how you are operating on a daily basis. 'A check up from the neck up,' as Zig Ziglar would say. I came to this book not hoping to sell my business any time soon, but rather to find insight on ways to structure my company so that it is less dependent on me for day-to-day operations. This book hit the target. After reading the print version in one evening, I downloaded the audio version through my Audible account. My wife and I listened to it as we drove several hours to a conference. She normally does not enjoy audio books because they do not keep her attention like reading the printed word. With "Built To Sell," we stayed fully engaged, often pausing the recording to discuss certain points. This material became the filter through which we took in new information at the conference we attended. This ultimately led to some major business decisions that are changing the operations and direction of our firm.

BOTTOM LINE: If you own a service business, you owe it to yourself, your family and your employees to read this book. Yes, even it you have no intentions of selling. It will help you improve your company.
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Format: Hardcover
A long time ago I read a book that suggested that the key to achievement was to want something and strive for it with all your heart and will but to not be attached to the outcome. A similar paradox is at the heart of John Warrillow's book for small business owners, Built To Sell. The premise is that at the same time you are running your business as if it will last forever you should also be maximizing its value in a way that will allow it to be sold at any moment. It's all about keeping your options open. It's a simple premise but considering that only about one in one hundred small businesses are sold, it's one that few people are able to adopt.

To keep the premise interesting Warrillow relies on a fictional construct, a character, Alex Stapleton, who is the head of a successful advertising firm. Alex's old friend Ted Gordon, a successful entrepreneur, mentors him on how to create a business that can be sold and that instruction forms the core of the book.

Although 'Ted's tips' are aimed at small business owners many of them could also serve as career focusing tools for those who are thinking about making the entrepreneurship leap. Much of the advice is about assessing what your business does best and expanding and streamlining that offering. The major takeaway that might be hardest for small business owners to accept is that the business should be able to survive and thrive independent of the person who built it. Ted's lessons are also broken out into easy-to-understand concepts.

This isn't a particularly well-written book and the fictional story is too bland to be compelling but this book does its job effectively and easily, not requiring much of the reader who will likely be a stressed-out small business owner with little time for literary meanderings.
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