Every Entrepreneur Should Read the Book Built to Sell

By July 30, 2020 June 3rd, 2023 Small Business Planning

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

John Warrillow’s book Built to Sell is a must-read for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, whether thinking about starting a business or in the early stages of business ownership.  There are many elements of a brand-new business that you must put in place if you intend to make a profit by selling the company later on eventually.

A photo of the book Built to Sell on a table overlooking a park

Built to Sell covers these elements and provides actionable wisdom for anyone who wants to build a business to sell.  The book itself is not about selling your business per se but establishing a structure to help you grow your business into a profitable, valuable company while allowing you an exit strategy.  Here are a few important takeaways.

How to Prepare Your Business to Sell

The main idea behind Built to Sell is that whatever product or service your business provides, you won’t succeed long-term unless you have a robust system in place from its origination.  I’ve chosen 6 tips from the Built to Sell book to help small business owners improve their processes and strengthen their foundation. 

  1. Don’t generalize; specialize.  You can’t be everything to everyone, so don’t try to cast too wide a net with your offerings.  It’s much better to be the best at something specific than average at something widely applicable.  Find a niche in the market and own it yourself. 
  2. Keep a narrow focus, and don’t wander out of your lane.  Don’t take on work that isn’t part of your specialty.  You will block your capacity to perfect your specialized work and confuse your prospects. 
  3. Develop a defensible proprietary process that you can productize and promote.  This is about uniqueness.  It would be best if you avoided being seen as a commodity.  Commodities lose their pricing power and are easy for competitors to replicate.
  4. Future buyers want to believe that you have a vision and strategy for the long-term success of your business.  Unfortunately, most start-ups underestimate the need to think this through and clearly define their documents early on.  Your cultural statement and guiding principles are great places to start.  You can’t build a business without a clear, understandable vision.
  5. Your business must have the potential to attract repeat customers.  Repeating business is the easiest way to ensure future profits.  In addition, positive cash flow is vital to the longevity of any business. 
  6. Your business needs to be sustainable and must be able to operate without you.  The maximum value of a future sale requires that you are the strategist and not the lynchpin.  Plan and manage your business as if it will run forever, with or without you on board.

Built to Sell contains actionable tips that would benefit any entrepreneur considering selling a small business once they build it up.  Read the book, and when you are ready to plan, organize, and implement these ideas, you will need a business coach to help.  Click here to fill out my contact form, and let’s set up a complimentary coaching session to discuss your next steps.  Oh, by the way, read this book! 

Coach Dave


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