#80/111: Built To Sell

What is it about?

It took me fifteen years to build this service company, now I want to retire and spend more time with my kids. But how? Even if you aren’t going to sell your company immediately, John Warrillow will show you how to make your company sellable and your job as a CEO more comfortable. I will focus a bit more on service companies because for most products companies these things are obvious.

What can I learn?

Recurring revenue and a repeatable sales process: A main key to increase the value of your company is to create recurring revenue. It could be subscriptions, consumer goods or long-term contracts. This helps you to create a more consistent cash flow and less short-term liabilities. Furthermore, your sales process should be repeatable. Try to create a product which could be sold without (much) customization and hire at least two sales people. Why two? Because they love competition! In the book, the owner of a creative agency, created a simple five step process to sell and create logos.

Hire managers: If you created your product, you are probably going to scale your business a bit. Besides the two sales people, you may want to focus more on your product and hire more people how are awesome at creating your product. After some time you may increase your sales force and the amount of creators. Instead of managing them by yourself, hire/promote people to managers. Your goal is to sell this company or at least make you dispensable. 

Sell big: If you finally decided to sell your company, you should look for brokers which help your sell your company. Later when talking to the future owners you should emphasize on the possibilities your company offers. You created a great management team, a repeatable sales process and product and it could be scaled to the unlimited. Sell big and sell a superb vision of what could be.


Built To Sell is an awesome book! I love the story about the agency owner who wants to sell his company. It reminded me of the E-Myth but here’s the story is a bit deeper and more interesting. The second part of the book explains each principle again in detail. Awesome book and clear recommendation!

How to create advertising that sells (by David Ogilvy)

Read: How to create advertising that sells

What can I learn?

Make your product great and beautiful: A great product allows you to promise great benefits which the product can actually deliver. In addition, your product should look beautiful. Man is a visual animal. If you product looks awful, they conclude that you product is awful.

Sell in the headline and caption: The most people scan pages. They see the headlines and captions. Don’t miss these opportunities to sell your product.

Use news: Often marketers neglect this opportunity (however bloggers often get it). How can you react to topical news? Imagine that there is big news on digital data theft. Depending on what you are selling, you could write an article about preventing data theft, release an ad that your servers are more secure or, if you have deeper knowledge, giving interviews to journalist.


This is a pretty remarkable ad. Firstly, Ogilvy & Mather understood in den 70ies that you can increase your sales if you give away valuable information. Secondly, the last paragraph is brilliant. They show you their 38 principles of successful advertising but say:

Ogilvy & Mather has developed a separate and specialized body of knowledge on what makes for success in advertising food products, tourist destinations, proprietary medicines, children’s product – and other classifications.

That is, you can tackle the problem on your own or hire experts who are specialized into these sectors and who can afford to give away valuable information for free.

(via 1,900 word ad “How to create advertising that sells” written by David Ogilvy)