Your business is probably worthless

[Cache – #40]

Do you own a service business? Chances are, it’s worthless.

That’s just the first eye-opening fact in John Warrillow’s Built to Sell, possibly the most important business book I’ve ever read. Here’s another one: only one in 100 business owners is ever successful at selling it to someone else. And of that successful 1%, most are dragged through a painful buyout process – in which they work essentially as an employee of the buyer, and are at the buyer’s mercy to meet tough profit targets for up to several years, lest the deal be terminated at any time.

built to sell

Fortunately, there is another way. As Built to Sell tells us through the story of Alex, it is entirely possible to build your business in a way that 1. makes it sellable at all, and 2. makes it sellable without an agonizing buyout.

The fundamental requirement is that your business must specialize in a single, highly systematic and painstakingly documented process. The example in the book is of a graphic design firm that changes from being a soup-to-nuts operation to one that does strictly logos. The business is now worth something to someone else because it has a repeatable, scalable process to sell. It has productized, in other words, and therefore – crucially – can operate without you.

In the months before I read this book, I was developing my service offering on the assumption that I would provide a full range of branding services: strategy, copywriting, websites, brochures, advertising…pretty much everything. My website had even been designed on that basis.

After I read the book, I killed half the website and decided to focus on naming alone. I’m in the process of productizing, I have focus and the market clearly understands what I do, when to call me, and when not to.

I can’t stand the thought of working for years and having nothing of value left over.

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I see there is a great deal at www.builttosell.com at the moment – for purchasing a book through an online retailer, you get:

-a 12-month subscription to Inc. Magazine (12 issues) * US Residents Only – Not Available in Canada
-A one hour group teleconference with John Warrillow
-An exclusive e-Book from The E-Myth Worldwide on building a sellable business (not available publicly)
-The Freedom Manifesto: an 83-page e-book on building a sellable business by John Warrillow

Best and worst brand names of the week!

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Previous lists:

Friday September 16

Friday September 9

Friday September 2

Friday August 26

Friday August 17

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