Built to Sell
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 23 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by John Warrillow

Built to Sell

Create a business that can stand on its own

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.

Built to Sell
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 23 min.

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

What characteristics make a company enticing to potential buyers? John Warrillow has no doubts about what they are: firstly, it needs to be able to run smoothly and yield a return, even without the business owner that started it. To explain and support his thesis, Warrillow tells the story of a fictional character, Alex Stapleton, who is the owner of an advertising agency. Alex loves his work, however he wants to spend more time with his family, have more freedom, and economic security.

He starts entertaining the idea of selling his business, and to find out exactly what that would entail, he turns to Ted Gordon, a family friend with experience and a knack for business. They begin by looking the Stapleton Agency over, which is currently at a standstill: the majority of the agency’s income comes from a few, big clients, all of which are accustomed to having frequent contact with him (including the smaller clients) to manage their relationship. If things were to continue in this way, Alex would have no hope of cutting ties with his business, and even less of seeing it grow. Ted offers to mentor him and guide him through the necessary changes that need to be made to transform his business into a flourishing agency, ready to be presented to a potential buyer.


The key ideas of "Built to Sell"

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
4books preview

Try 4books Premium for free!