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Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  4,342 ratings  ·  277 reviews
According to John Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. Thus, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren't confident that the company-even if it's 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 adver ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 28th 2011 by Portfolio (first published February 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  4,342 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This easy-to-read book covers roughly the same ground as "The e-Myth" but has a bit more detail that made it more useful to me as I build process and turn my work into something that can live without me. I'm naturally cynical of these just so stories, but I like to have an arsenal of stories from which I can pick a technique to use at any point in time.

Here are the tips from the book, which is structured as "guru helps novice to get shit together and build business sustainably":

1. Don’t generali
Jeff Peters
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here is what I got out of this book:

Step 1-4 focus on building value. 5-8 on selling the company.

1. Isolate a product with potential to scale.
- Specific offering. Not customizable.
- Develop a sales pitch for your product

2. Create a positive cash flow cycle
- Subscriptions
- Make sure no one customer makes up more than 15% of your revenue.

3. Hire a sales team
- Remove yourself from selling the product
- Hire 2 sales employees. They are competitive
“Your job as an entrepreneur is to hire salespeo
Paras Dahal
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Provides an actionable framework on building business which are not dependent on their founders to grow and operate, thus making them highly sellable.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My Definition of A Business Is:
Something That Earns You A Lot of Money While You're Away or Even Asleep!

This Book Lays Down How To Exactly Do That.

I See Self Employed Folks Calling Themselves Businessmen. In Reality They're Actually Labouring Hours For Their Clients Day & Night.

Forget About Selling Your Company, If You're Too Involved With It's Operations Esp Sales.

This Book Teaches You How To Transition From A Self Employed To A Proper Businessman,
Able To Sell His Company To The Right Buyer.
Andrew Milne
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-books
Amazing book. I was recommended to read this because it help shapes your head around what you are building in your business. Painful ( if you hate hearing I told you so ) to read if you are a business that is in the same industry as the writer, you feel his pain 100%. Really great lessons learned and makes the impossible seem possible. Well worth the time.
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ted's Tips:
1) Being a generalist forces you to hire generalist employees and your offering will be average at best. If you specialize, you can hire specialists and improve the quality of your work.
2) Make sure that no one client makes up more than 15 percent of your revenue.
3) Pitching a process you own puts you in control.
4) Make the business less dependent on you so you can reduce or avoid an earn out.
5) Once you've standardized your service, charge up front or use progress billing to create a
Yevgeniy Brikman
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Must-read for most entrepreneurs and founders. The key takeaway is that you should build your business as if you're going to sell it, even if you have no intention to actually sell it. That's because a business that is sellable is usually a stronger and more enjoyable business in general.

Instead of a list of advice to follow, this book is written in the form of a story, where you follow around a fictional entrepreneur who is trying to transform his business into something that can be sold. Like
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I’m positive this book is useful, for someone. But for me - it wasn’t. Hence the one star. I did like the story telling, them implementation guide and the points. However, it just went for me.
Ralf Kruse
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interesting perspective on entrepreneurship and running a company. Good compelling story. Resonates with my challenges and current focus, even if I not consider to sell my company ;-)
Ruslan Khalilov
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An ideal book to rethink your business model.
Claudia Anderson Scimeca
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
So, this was another book that I "read" as an audio book. And, while I have been very pleased with the narrators in most of the audio books that I have listened to, the narrator for Built to Sell was awful in fact that I was tempted to give up on the book. I am very glad I did not. Once I got "into" the book, I was able to almost forget how awful the narration was. John Warrillow wrote a business book in a fictional format...he created a main character Alex who was wanting to sell his ...more
Greg Albrecht
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must-read for every service-business owner

1. Easy to relate to, enjoyable storytelling
2. Clear step-by-step guide to turn a service into a replicable product
3. Inspiring, clear tips for any entrepreneur trying to turn his lifestyle business into a stand alone biz.

As an experienced entrepreneur who built and sold businesses in the past I regret I hadn't read the book a few years earlier.
Ellen Seltz
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
BTS was recommended by a business coach I'm working with. Very helpful information on assessing your business model, how service business differ from product businesses, and how to get the best of both worlds.

A good learning experience, and more accessible for this "flighty creative" than some others I've tried, like The E-Myth.
Thomas Umstattd Jr.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a a great book on business whether you intend to sell your company or not. Written as a story it follows the same plot of every business parable but the lessons are totally worth the somewhat cliche story line. Plus getting these lessons as a story always makes for a better read.
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
Good ideas, good story to hang them together. The detail makes this a really useful book for entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
Beth Sanders
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Great info presented well

The business advice is presented in the form of a story, which held my attention easily. Insightful information; well worth the time invested.
John Meyer
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This one got a lot of ideas going. This book started my marathon training audiobook binge.
Michael J.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A 5-star review because I found myself nodding in violent agreement the whole time I was reading. I definitely subscribe to Warrillow's underlying thesis about building a sellable business...and I also believe it's how to build a successful business in general. The author said it best "[T]he point is that the best businesses are sellable, and smart businesspeople believe that you should build a company to be sold even if you have no intention of cashing out or stepping back anytime soon."

This bo
Dave Summers
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Built to Sell | book notes

Run your business like it will be sold and run forever.
- systems + management teams

Possible exits
- sell it
- hire president and become chairman
- stay in it

Create a business that can thrive without you. Then, it's an asset you can sell

Story: Alex runs an ad agency.
- stretched thin doing all the sales. Customers want Alex personally

It's hard to imagine leaving the company, but it's important to think
of selling your company:
- option to sell

Chapter one - compa
Keshav Bhatt
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really practical & useful read that helped me continue to develop my skill as a business owner. It's similar enough to others I've read in this genre (E-Myth Revisited, Second Bounce of the Ball for example) to deepen & build on lessons I've come across before. The main difference here was the perspective of why you should build a business with an intention to sell & how you navigate that process when you get there.

My key lessons & fave quotes were:

- Make sure no one client is prov
Poyan Nabati
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Building a company you can sell is a useful proxy for building a healthy company

"Built to Sell" is a quick read about how to build a company that you can end up selling a few years down the line. Even though I don't agree with the author's sentiment that the main purpose of building a company is to sell it, I think that building a company that you can sell is a very useful proxy for building a healthy company.

Here some key take-aways:

1. Specialise in one product that your company executes well
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Business owners
Warrillow has written an excellent, story-driven business book on how to effectively set your business up for a future sale. Perfect for a small service or consultancy business owner looking to 'step back' or even a solo operator wanting inspiration on how they could expand.

Personally, I found this book to be a great read, with his insight helping solidify a lot of thoughts I'm tossing up around the future of my business.

Warrillow condenses his 'Built To Sell' process into 8 steps:

1. Isolate a p
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent business book that’s both fun to read and full of valuable insights. Whereas other business books are laden with jargon and often unattainable examples, “Built to Sell” is a practical and relatable read on how to grow (and sell) a successful service business. Part of what makes it so accessible is that the story is told in a narrative format, making it easy to follow and apply.

The fictional story follows Alex, who runs a marketing design firm that he decides he wants to sell. Alex
Angela Lam
This book uses a fable to illustrate what it takes to structure/build a business that can run without you and hence be sold. Basically, there are 8 steps and 20 tips of what to look out for along the way.

The 8 steps are (paraphrased) are:
1. Develop a Standard Service Offering
2. Build a Positive Cash Flow Cycle
3. Hire a Sales Team
4. Stop accepting projects outside of your Standard Service Offering
5. Launch a Long-Term Incentive Plan for the Management Team
6. Find a Suitable Broker
7. Inform your
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
It turns out that the same thing that makes a business efficient and scalable is also what makes it sellable. Do one thing really well through a repeatable process that can be sold and fulfilled by the people you hire and train and you have a business you can sell.

The "business parable" format of the book made it easy to listen to the audio version and especially easy to stick with the story. As someone who previously worked in an advertising agency, I first had to get past the fact that they we
Yves TheMist
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you're freelancing and/or building a business and you're tired of running around, whacking the moles as they show up, this book is for you.

This may sound like an intro to Sam Carpenter's "Work the System" review, and for a good reason; Built to Sell sharing a lot of common concepts with it, with the difference of being more romanced; more comprehensive, less instructional and guided.

The book tells the story of Alex, a marketing agency owner, struggling under the workload, that will eventually
Szymon Kulec
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
3 out of 5 I like it,

but I expected more. The book is a story about an entrepreneur that wants to sell their business. It starts in an uncanny place where the business means nothing more than running from a client to client, selling their services. The first step of evolution is defining the process, then moving towards a product, then building a sales team, then gaining momentum (interesting aspects of cash-flow) and then... selling the business.

I think that I might be a bit tired of the story
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this short book, John Warrillow explains a process for how one can organise their business in order to make it as sellable as possible. However, he does so by way of storytelling.

The story follows Alex Stapleton, who owns his own small-time marketing agency. It's operational, but Alex is unhappy: it seems that he needs to be involved in every part of the process. He's always out meeting clients, selling his services and communicating with all his employees.

At a certain point it becomes too m
Doug Hill
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty good listen (audio book). Author used the story of a business to apply the principles/tips of the book. Story moved along, setting up the situations to apply the principles/tips, then applied the principle to the benefit of the business and owner. Unlike many authors that use this approach, the story kept moving, did not take bizarre off ramps simply to setup a situation, and the general business/story was compelling and believable so continued listening was pretty easy.

The author did a g
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This book definitely held plenty of value, but the majority of it was within the Implementation Guide, found only in the last 40 pages of the book. If I were reading the book to enjoy a fictional story, I would have rated it one star.

Thankfully, I was reading it for helpful and useful business tips and information. Ted's tips and advice to Alex can definitely be applied into real businesses, and these were the snippets that kept me reading.

The dialogue and description throughout this book was s
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