John Warrillow’s “Built To Sell” Book Review

Built to Sell by John WarrillowMy readership is primarily young professionals so you wouldn’t expect them to be building businesses with selling as the end goal, but with an economy that’s currently crippling recent graduates you might be surprised.

Combine that with the fact that I’m a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and it’s filled with peers who own their own businesses, and reading John Warrillow’s “Built to Sell” starts to make sense.

[Full Disclosure: Built to Sell Marketing Manager Megan Harris reached out approximately two weeks ago to see if I’d be interested in receiving a copy of the book in exchange for a candid review.]

I was worried I might not enjoy this book because I felt it was a little out of my range/expertise, but I found myself enthralled, finishing the book (150 pages) in merely two days.

Warrilow illustrates how to build a business that can thrive without it’s original owner (i.e. built to sell) by telling the story of a fictional business owner, Alex. I’ve seen this approach in the past, and I hate when the protagonist is so naive and clueless that everything is a revelation. That’s not the case here, Alex, and his business, are both totally realistic.

The book talks about the three key criteria to transforming your business into one you can sell, but it really teaches you so much more than that.

There were things I already knew:

  • How and why you should fire clients that don’t make sense for your business, even if they’re highly profitable
  • Implementing processes to ensure that your business is capable of running without you

But then their were some key things I had not really thought about:

  • Don’t generalize; specialize. – Most businesses will do anything they can to get more clients and more billable work, but Warrilow shows you why that’s counter productive.
  • Do not customize each solution for every client. – I’ve been so guilty of this in the past. My desire to want to please everyone often means I’m doing some tasks (SEO) that I’m not as strong at as others (community management) where I’m well versed.
  • Two sales reps are better than one. – Inherently, this makes perfect sense, I’m not certain I’d thought about it the way that John lays it out.
  • I love, love, love John’s recommendation regarding long term incentive plans for key employees. Before reading this book, I suspect I would’ve offered my rockstars a share of the equity instead.
  • His foolproof strategy for answering the question “Why You Want To Sell?

For the business/entrepreneurial savvy, you could probably read the implementation guide and the sixteen tips that make up the last 35 pages of this book and get your money’s worth, but for most of you I recommend reading the whole thing.

If you want to sell a business, please pick up this book. If you know someone who wants to sell their business, or a boss who could use a gentle nudge from the tips in this book you should also pick up this book. Finally, anyone entrepreneurial who suspects they might one day own a business, you’ll find this a useful and intriguing read.

Thanks John (and Megan) for sharing “Built to Sell” with me!

Check out my other busines book reviews.