Built To Sell Book Summary: How To Sell My Business

by Accessory To Success December 23, 2020

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How To Build & Sell Your Business

Business books are usually full of practical advice and, as such, a bit dry. This book is different. It is easy to read and Warrillow has written it in a story format. The story that he tells carries many simple and practical tips. And he has included an executive summary at the end of the book, to reinforce all his points.

I recommend the audio book, because the easy style makes for comfortable listening and you can finish the entire book in a few short hours. It is written based on the author’s first-hand experience and these kind of books always make for knowledgeable and interesting reading.

Entrepreneurs make many mistakes as they evolve. The prime mistake is to build a business that relies heavily on them. This erodes the sale value of the company, as buyers are not confident that the company can survive on its own, without its founder.

John Warrilow says that every business should be built to sell, even if you have no intention to sell it. If you own a business, if you are higher up in the operating process of selling a business and are on the same page with those involved in selling a business, and if you have interest in the sale in some way, you must read this book. You will learn how to create a sellable business.

Tips For Building A Business To Sell

  • How to create a fantastic sale value for your business keeping in mind buyer perspective
  • How to avoid potholes in business sale
  • How to structure your company to get the best valuation
  • Products to sell and how to position products
  • If in the service industry, how to package your services as a product
  • How to build systems operable by anybody
  • How not to rely on one big client. No single client should account for more than 15% of your revenue
  • How to create a positive cash flow cycle
  • Focus on your area of specialization. Refuse projects not in your scope
  • How to hire and retain good employees

Built To Sell

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Built To Sell


Learn to grow a system that drives revenue, set goals, and sell a company for millions. Stop relying on one massive client and build a real business.


Built To Sell Book Summary

Warrilow tells this story about Alex, who wants to sell his marketing agency. He approaches Ted, his friend and a serial entrepreneur, for help. Ted informs him that his agency is worthless. It is overly reliant on Alex, heavily dependent on one client and has no unique feature to speak of. Alex is shocked and decides to take Ted’s help in making his business sellable. Throughout the book Ted gives him these insights and practical advice.

An invested entrepreneur will run his business with all his efforts, believing that it is going to last forever. However, a shrewd entrepreneur will also keep adding value to the business so that it becomes magnetic to others, or acquires an immense market value.

The focus should be to build a business that can run without you.Create processes and systems which ensure smooth functioning, even in your absence. It is then that your business will become a valuable asset. Develop a Standard Service Offering (SSO). An alternative to this book is E-Myth Revisited.

Built To Sell Book Summary Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You Quote 1

Specialize – Focus on doing one thing well. Hire specialists in that area, improve, be different from competitors, and the best in your niche. Own a process.

Be smart about your products and how you position them. Packaging is important. Even if you are selling a service it needs to be packaged as a product, so that any potential buyer can continue to sell the same. For even more detail on structuring the business read the book Traction.

Do not rely heavily on one client. This will scare away potential buyers. No one client should be giving you more than 15% of your revenue. This is something that Jeremy Miller talks about is Sticky Branding as well.

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The book makes sure that you remain separate from your business. It should always remain an entity separate from you. Do not become synonymous with the company. Buyers should feel confident that the company can run without you.

Built To Sell Book Summary Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You Quote 2

Try to get cash upfront as against running up billing arrears. Charge upfront, use progressive billing and establish a positive cash flow cycle.

Turn down work that falls outside your area of specialization. This way you will attract people who need your expertise and develop a reputation of being a specialist in your niche. This concept if written about in great detail in the book The ONE Thing.

Figure out how many pipeline prospects actually convert to sales. This number will show the buyer what market opportunity exists.

Hire at least two sales reps. It is competitive and indicates to the buyer that you have a scalable sales model. The sales reps should be good at selling products, not services. They should help your customers realize how your product is the solution to their needs, and not try to customize the product to suit the needs of the customer. Other books on this would include either Ready Fire Aim or Predictable Revenue.

Built To Sell Book Summary Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You Quote 3

The book says that cash flow statements should be consistent and strong. Ignore your profit and loss statement if your cash flow is strong. You will hit that sweet spot eventually if cash flow is good.

Two years of financial statements, reflecting use of your SSO, is needed before you can sell your company.

Offer good incentives and build a strong management team.

The book recommends finding an adviser from your industry. Ensure that you are a mid-range client for him. The adviser should fix discussions with many buyers for you, so that you can avail of competitive bids. Avoid advisers who push you into discussions with one buyer only.

Built To Sell Book Summary Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You Quote 4

Think big and make out a three year business plan. The added resources of the company which acquires you, will propel you ahead.

Do not offer stock options to retain employees after an acquisition. Offer them a stay bonus instead.This stay bonus can be a cash reward given in installments to ensure that your key people stay on with you through your transition.

About The Author John Warrillow

John Warrillow is the founder of The Value Builder System and the Sellability Score. His company helps business owners improve the value of their company. Prior to starting The Value Builder System, he started and exited four companies, including a quantitative market research business that was acquired by The Corporate Executive Board (NYSE: CEB) in 2008.

Warrilow is the author of the bestselling book Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which was recognized by both Fortune and Inc Magazine as one of the best business books of 2011. Built to Sell has been translated into four languages.

Warrillow has been recognized by B2B Marketing as one of the top 10 business-to-business marketers in the United States.

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