The Business Owner’s Bookshelf: Built To Sell

Today’s blog post was written by Dan Kolanskey, from Virtual Administrator.

“How To Avoid The Pain All Entrepreneur’s Endure”

I don’t recall exactly what it was that sparked me to do this search, but it was during a class on company management. I had the sudden thought: “I wonder if anyone has ever written a book on how to sell a company.”

I didn’t own a company worth selling at the time, but I was interested in laying the groundwork in my fledgling business. Also, the thought intrigued me. Business, especially smaller businesses, are so personal. How could an entrepreneur like myself build a company that could even survive without my constant care and attention?

Ironically, my search turned up one book on Audible. “Perfect,” I thought to myself while failing to listen to the speaker at the front of the room, “I can listen to this on the bus later today.”

The book that turned up in that casual search has become my single favorite business read. Far from a simple book on how to sell your company, Built To Sell by John Warrillow, was a whole new way of thinking.

In similar vein to The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber (check out the blog post on that book here), Built To Sell is a book on establishing business processes told through a story. Warrillow had me from the first chapter in the book as he described the main protagonist, a struggling marketer who owned a moderately successful design company. Ironically, it didn’t hit too far from home as my expertise has primarily revolved around all things marketing. But the struggles this young designer was facing are something every entrepreneur can relate to:

  • Clients who demand more time than exists in a day.

The inability to pass off what seems like simple tasks to employees (who seemed quite capable when you hired them). And worse yet, clients who refuse to work with your subordinates and demand to work only with you, the owner.

Living right against the wall when it comes to managing your revenue and expenses. Just barely treading water and waiting for that one moment where you slip up or a client doesn’t pay on time and you drown in the bills.

Not being able to communicate the value of your business to new prospects interested in your services or products and also to people who might be interested in purchasing your company.

There is a lot more in the book, but issues like these rang true with me as things which I had experienced personally. I was enraptured with the book and listened to the entire thing in one go (it’s only like four and a half hours- I’m sure it’s a quick read in paper format as well). The book has a unique flow of allowing the protagonist to experience both the pain of business issues in various stages of transforming his company into one which can be sold, and also the great feelings of relief and joy as he overcomes them. Of course, the story ends with the protagonist selling his company for a health sum of approximately six million dollars, but it is obvious he doesn’t have to- the lessons applied just as well to someone who wished to stick with their company for the long haul.

Once you get to the end of a chapter the tips throughout the chapter are listed, totaling around 30 in all, there are some valuable lessons to running a smooth (and sellable) business, but I won’t give it away here. You really should take the time to read Built To Sell, it is a fantastic story which resounds with anyone who has any real experience as an entrepreneur. Even if you have already overcome some of the trials which characters in the book are struggling with it is still a great reminder on how to structure your business as a strict and well-defined set of processes instead of as a wishy-washy hash-mash of different half-services and poorly supported products.

Get it here.

Business IT Solutions

Network Depot has been providing professional IT Support for businesses in and around Reston, VA since 1991. We strive to give our clients Enterprise-level services and solutions at prices that work for small businesses.

Time and experience has helped us develop best practices and workflow procedures around a proactive philosophy designed to keep your focus on your business, not your technology.

Proven IT Experts

Our team of experts can become your outsourced IT department; responding to issues quickly, often before you even know about them. Your IT infrastructure is our priority!