Book of the Month: Built to Sell

built to sellAccording to John Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. Which means that when the time comes to sell, buyers aren’t confident that the company – even if it’s extremely profitable – can stand on its own.

To illustrate this, Warrillow introduces us to a fictional small business owner named Alex who is struggling to sell his advertising agency. Alex turns to Ted, an entrepreneur and old family friend, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable:

  1. Teachable: focus on products and services that you can teach employees to deliver.
  2. Valuable: avoid price wars by specialising in doing one thing better than anyone else.
  3. Repeatable: generate recurring revenue by engineering products that customers have to repurchase often.

In pursuit of these three criteria, Ted asks challenging questions and gradually share his “Tips” throughout the book. These 17 gems are really a roadmap for taking a service business and treating it like a product business, then selling it off for the best price achievable. Secret #1 revealed: Product-based businesses carry more value than the owner in the marketplace and are easier to sell.

Each of these 17 points is followed by case studies he calls “Lessons from Experience.” These short anecdotes put the lessons into a perspective that any reader should be able to relate to.

This book is easy to read, easy to understand and easy to apply for those service business owners who want to sell their business, can commoditise their service, and are willing to follow the formula.