Book Review: Built to Sell by John Warrillow

How can you build a sustainable business that can continue after you leave? To what extent should this data be disseminated, and how exactly? John Warrillow used his years of experience working with entrepreneurs and the advice of his mentors to put together a theoretical story full of useful information.

Alex Stapleton, a fictional business owner from Built to Sell (2011), asks Ted Gorden, also fictional, for advice. Alex takes Ted’s advice to heart and turns his failing business into a lucrative $5 million enterprise. Warrillow includes a more conventional step-by-step guide at the end of the book to make sure his points are crystal clear.

You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Lesson 1: Selling the Process

Ted and Alex met again, and during this time Ted explained to Alex how learning and mastering a particular process can empower you. The five-step process should be the company’s main offering, not just an ancillary service. Once a product is offered for sale, a company can start requiring upfront payments. In addition, potential buyers would want assurance that Alex’s business would continue to be successful if he decided to sell. Alex would need to teach his subordinates how to achieve the same high-quality results.

Ted then gave him an assignment to document the five-step logo design process he had developed. If he could get it right, any of his employees could do his job. After completing the first design, Alex called his team together. He presented his guide and explained why they needed a niche strategy.

His junior designer, Elijah, disagreed with the plan. During the break between meetings, Alex had a conversation with Elijah, who lacked a business perspective. For Alex, it was a relief that Elijah had finally decided to leave. Unfortunately, that would mean he would have one less designer. Also, Elijah’s mother worked at MNY Bank, which could strain Alex’s relationship with the bank.

One morning, Alex received a letter from Urban Sports Warehouse. USW requested that all of their advertising be handled by the Stapleton Agency. This meant a steady income of $50,000 per month. Although Alex was initially excited, after consulting with his friend Ted, he ultimately decided against accepting the offer.

Larger advertising companies were interested in Alex’s business, but only if he committed to staying with them for the next five years. In order to receive full pay, he had to meet certain goals. However, Alex declined the offer and moved on.

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Lesson 2: Scaling Up

Alex told Ted the price he had come up with, but Ted remained vague and told him to write it down, seal it in an envelope, and keep it for two years. The Stapleton agency hired 11 people by December. Angie and Seamus’ work was delayed because they were so busy training the new salespeople.

Ted suggested forming a leadership group to run the company. If he promoted his current employees into management positions, he would have to fill those positions with new employees. He would not give stock to his managers because of the hassle of distributing stock. Ted countered with a proposal to increase salaries and implement a long-term incentive plan to recognize the team’s efforts and commitment.

Alex had a conversation with his MNY Bank account manager, Mary. She was willing to help him with an increased line of credit and high-interest CDs. Sales for the year were $2,715,000, a 5% increase over the previous year. Although Alex was ready to sell his business, Ted advised him to wait a few more years to maximize his profits. After careful consideration, Alex decided to sell.

Mark, a broker with Travers Capital Partners, was the first person he spoke with. Mark quickly suggested the sale to Multicom, a multi-billion dollar company. Peggy from EMG Capital Partners then met with Alex; she recommended two smaller technology companies but asked for more time to consider them.

She asked for an advance, but Mark did not. Alex was encouraged by Ted to approach Peggy. In other words: If you accepted the first offer from a major company, there was no other option, and you may not have gotten the best possible deal. If you sold to the right person, an advance was worth it.

Lesson 3: Drafting Growth

Alex was tasked with developing the strategy of Peggy’s business for the next three years. This included his steadfast adherence to a 20% pre-tax profit margin. Ted encouraged him to model his approach on that of a large company like Starbucks. He hoped Alex would become risk-taking and resourceful.

For the second, more confident design, Alex increased his revenue projection to $12 million over the next three years. Peggy was then to write a teaser for the company and present it to about twenty potential strategic buyers after receiving the draft. Strategic buyers differed from financial buyers because they had the resources and expertise to keep the business running smoothly and profitably after the sale.

Alex used the term “customer” to describe Natural Foods when he updated Ted on his progress with Peggy and the numbers in the office. Ted corrected him and told him to use the term “customer” instead.

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Lesson 4: Breaking the News

At their next meeting, Peggy informed Alex that prospective buyers would like to meet with his management team. Alex had not yet informed them of the news. Everyone on the team worked hard and had a positive attitude. Alex was conflicted about selling because he would be the one to benefit financially from the sale.

Ted proposed giving his employees a one-time bonus after a sale. If they were given stock options, they would only complicate the selling process. Alex’s revelation came as no surprise to his coworkers. They recognized his entrepreneurial spirit and approved of his decision. He would give them each a $10,000 bonus if they met their sales targets.

Lesson 5: Final Step

Alex and Peggy met with Alistair and Simon from RTX Printing, the largest division of RTX Global, a multibillion-dollar corporation. They expressed an interest in purchasing Alex’s company. The meeting went off without a hitch because Alex was able to answer all of their questions. Finally, Alistair asked Alex why he wanted to sell the company.

Alex was hesitant at first, but eventually revealed his true desires: financial security and quality time with his family. Peggy informed Alex after the meeting that his response had scared off potential buyers. Attracting buyers required the owner’s motivation and willingness to assist in the transition. In their next meeting with Marcus from Print Technology Group, Alex aced the same question.

Peggy informed Alex a few weeks later that Print Technology Group was preparing an offer. After some time passed, they returned with a $6 million offer. Alex was giddy with excitement. Ted, on the other hand, clarified that this was only a letter of intent and not a binding contract. This development disappointed Alex, but he remained optimistic.

Print Technology Group’s inquiries into Stapleton Agency were irritating Alex. The length of time it took to complete the transaction was unacceptable. He went about it in a unique way. He warned them that if they didn’t make serious and prompt efforts to close the deal, he was ready to move on. Marcus assured him that they would have their final discussion in a few weeks.

Marcus informed Alex and Peggy two weeks before the deal was set to close that the offer price would be reduced to $5.2 million due to some concerns about the company’s scaling strategy. Peggy called a meeting break because Alex was becoming increasingly agitated.

He eventually tracked down Ted, who instructed him to reveal the contents of the envelope he had hidden after a year and a half. Alex deliberated over the five million dollars listed on the paper and made a decision. The sale was completed on November 30 after the parties reached an agreement on the terms. Alex’s requirements were eventually met.

Built to Sell Quotes

“Alex had built a marketing agency, and he wanted to sell it. He met with his friend Ted, who was also a successful entrepreneur, and told him about MNY Bank and the company’s lumpy cash flow. Ted said the business was virtually worthless. “


“Alex had to make some tough decisions and make changes to his business. He had to prepare himself to follow the advice of his business consultant. “


“Alex had a difficult time finding a writer who could write copy for a credit card campaign. He eventually hired Elijah, who wanted a raise because his mother worked at MNY Bank and was given a starting salary that was 10 percent higher than was typical for a junior designer. “


“The first step in logo design is to establish the client’s goals. The next step is to ask the client to personify their product. These questions force the client to think about the personality they want to come through in their logo. “


“The second step in designing a logo is to freehand sketch a bunch of ideas. We’ll use the business the client is in along with their vision and the personification exercise to come up with a few icons that represent their product. “

View our larger collection of the best Built to Sell quotes. 

How To Get Rich By Reading and Writing?

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