Is your company built to sell?

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I have been in business for myself for fifteen years.

I can’t count the number of fun projects, amazing clients and life-changing opportunities this path has provided for me.

But it wasn’t until yesterday, when I was reading John Warrillow’s Built to Sell, that I got the profound feeling that I was a total beginner in the world of preparing businesses for sale. I had never really asked myself the question “Do I want to stay in this business for the long term, or sell it and move on to something totally different?”

If I were to try to sell it today, I learned from the book, there would not be much tangible value in my business. It is much too dependent on me personally.

John Warrillow has started and sold four companies, and now lives a semi-retired life in France with his wife and kids, writing books, drinking wine and writing columns for Inc. Magazine. Yes, it is fair if you are all jealous of him. But he really knows what he is talking about when it comes to preparing businesses to sell.

In our 30 minute conversation, we walk through the critical steps you need to take to prepare to create an asset of true value.

If you are hot to buy the book, John has a special promotion until April 30 — buy one copy, send in the receipt and you will get $65 worth of goodies, including a one year subscription to Inc. Magazine, a BuyBizSell valuation report (where you can get a clear picture of the market value of your own business), as well as access to a 2-hour group conference call with John. He wil also donate $25 to in your name. He is really a fantastic resource – I encourage you to jump before the end of the week! See promotion details here.

Buy Built to Sell at any fine retailer, including Amazon (my affiliate link).

Enjoy the conversation! Download the mp3 here.

You can find John at, at or on Twitter @JohnWarrillow

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13 Responses to “Is your company built to sell?”

  1. Judy D says:

    I have an action figure toy idea (good guy and bad guy). My goal: sellable business. I know to focus on what runs without you. But how is bringing a toy to market (like Wal-Mart):

    Repeatable: (recurring revenue)

    How do I figure out what my product’s competitive edge is?
    I just can’t charge upfront or have a subscription.

    • Judy:

      My kids love Go Go’s Crazy Bones. They are constantly using their allowance to buy a new pack because each design is different and they have done amazing job creating a culture around each figure.

      Instead of a one time purchase, the company who makes Go Go’s get my kids allowance every week.

      That’s an example of recurring revenue. Is there a way to rethink your idea from being a one time purchase to something that is consumable?

  2. […] Interview with John Warrillow author of Built to Sell – great interview Pam! […]

  3. Tiger Beer says:

    Business ventures involve a continuous process and you need to continue working on it to make sure that you will be able to prevent the onset of unnecessary problems.

  4. Richard says:

    I was influenced years ago by the E-Myth and think selling your business is a major weakness of “solpreneurs”. For years I hesitated to start many businesses because they were dependent on me. I succumbed to the urge and started on which is dependent on me but has potential to scale and sale should I decide to. Yes, I have created a very low paying job for myself. However at this point in my life I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Do you have any studies on 1 person companies selling their business?

    • Richard:

      Most of the one person companies who sell their business are selling an asset other people can monetize without you. For example, a customer list in a very specific niche (e.g. gardening enthusiasts in New England or rugby players) can have a lot of value if you can prove it is responsive to offers. Also, a URL can be attractive if the website address is unique. I know a solopreneur who sold her URL for $50,000 so there are certainly *parts* of a solopreneuer’s business that can be valuable. Best of luck!

  5. fas, yes, your goal should be to eventually be able to take a 3 month sebbatical without your business losing ground. That’s when you’ll know you have a sellable business. Start small by taking a day off and seeing what gets screwed up. Fix that and then take 2 days off. Keep plugging the wholes until your business can operate without you. Then you’ll have all kind of options including selling if that’s what you want to do. Good luck!

  6. fas says:

    So basically operate as an entity!?

  7. Great Daryl, thanks!

    Please don’t forget to send rachel at built to sell dot com your amazon receipt by this Saturday so we can get you your free gifts!

  8. Daryl Gerke says:

    Just ordered the book.

    Thanks Pam for publicizing, and thanks John for writing.

  9. Darren:

    Yes, working on the business, not in it is a big part of becoming sellable. I’m a huge E-Myth fan.

    Peter Drucker said that any business has only two core functions:
    1. Sales & Marketing
    2. Product innovation

    I have found the key to making your business is sellable is to get both of those functions into someone else’s hands. Easy to say, tough to do!

  10. Ann says:

    I agree that “working on” versus “working in” seem to sum up the talk.
    I can also see how documenting processes allows you to have other people doing the work.
    Thanks for the great interview.

  11. Darren says:

    This reminds me of the need to plan for the long-term.

    I think this is related to the phrase, “Working on your business instead of working in your business.”

    Working “in” your business may include the day-to-day activity.

    Working “on” your business would consider the future value of your business if you decided to sell it.