Built to Sell

John Warrillow

Built to Sell



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Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, by John Warrillow, is a handbook disguised as a short story. Written in a direct and flowing style, the author illustrates the crucial steps that a business owner needs to take to unshackle themselves from their business so that it can stand on its own when they are looking to sell it to an interested party. Warrillow uses his personal entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of the business world to provide concrete examples. The reader follows the story of fictional character, Alex Stapleton, and his advertising agency, as he goes through the eight-step process, towards his final goal: a company that is not dependant on its owner, that is specialised in a service or product, and that generates fantastic profit – a company that is sellable.

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Analysis and key concepts


Everyone wants to sell, but only a few know how: why many companies can’t find a buyer


Specialise in a product or service, offering the highest possible level of quality and so, able to charge clients more


It is not healthy for an agency to rely on a single customer: why buyers prefer lower-risk businesses


The shift from service to product: why it is better to focus on the things that we are accustomed to paying for up front


Choose a scalable product, that customers will repeatedly need to buy


Use a sales team to find new clients: why companies benefit from investing in these types of resources


Stop selling other products, even when this means parting ways with a long-standing client


Take care of your team: why it is a good idea for managers to introduce an incentive plan


Set the wheels in motion and find an intermediary that will take care of the sale: how to choose the right person


Involve the managerial team, informing them of your intention to sell, and discuss what will happen


A “tidy” business that is ready to be put under the microscope: preparing for the last steps before the sale


From the offer to a deal: how to manage due diligence and finalise the sale


Making a business sellable: John Warrillow’s 8-step process




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Revisit your company’s product and service offerings.
  • Develop the resources that can help grow your business to make it increasingly independent from the owner.
  • Understand what factors make a company sellable and what changes can be made to this end.

John Warrillow is an entrepreneur and founder of the Value Builder System™, which supports the growth of thousands of businesses around the world through a network of certified consultants. His book, Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, was included amongst the best business books in 2011 by Fortune and Inc magazines. In the podcast, Built to Sell Radio, he has interviewed entrepreneurs from all over the globe. Other books he has written include The Automatic Customer (2015), and The Art of Selling Your Business: Winning Strategies & Secret Hacks for Exiting on Top (2021).

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