Thinking of Selling Your Business? Read This


The perfect book for a small business owner who wants to build and run a business that can roll with life's surprises.

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Selling a business is never easy. It can be an emotional process, and without the proper guidance it could end up costing you more than you bargained for. That’s why John Warrillow wrote The Art of Selling Your Business: Winning Strategies & Secret Hacks for Exiting on Top. This book will help you enter into this transition with your eyes wide open and avoid the common mistakes that many business owners make when selling their company.

Warrillow is the Warrior of Selling Your Business

John Warrillow has become a go-to expert on designing businesses to be saleable. After being through the process himself, he created The Value Builder system for selling your business quickly and easily and wrote a book about it back in 2011 called Built to Sell. Since then, he’s refined his process in such a way that speaks directly to small business owners who you can relate to — those with sales from $1 million to $50 million.

Why? What makes these types of businesses different from larger businesses?  

As it turns out,  larger businesses (those over $50 million) are often sold at auctions and disclose the details of the terms to potential buyers. This isn’t true when you’re selling a  smaller business.  Smaller businesses are often sold privately with negotiations taking place behind closed doors. 

This is what makes The Art of Selling Your Business stand out from other books. Warrillow tackles all sorts of topics; from what you should do before deciding whether or not to sell your company (and how to know when you’re ready), through establishing value for your business, structuring a deal with buyers and finally closing it out successfully.

What if I Don’t Want to Sell My Business?

You should read this book even if you aren’t ready to sell your business just yet. Warrillow recommends you start your exit process about ten years before you actually intend to sell.  He gives the example of a very young entrepreneur, Shaun Oshman, who built and ran a fairly successful IT services company. 

Oshman did something few small business owners do at 30.  He set a vision to live on a Yacht by the time he was 40.  It’s this vision that pulled him forward in his entrepreneur journey.  Having a personal goal allowed Oshman to design his business for sale and then sell his business for a healthy sum in order to achieve his goal.  

Early in the book, Warrillow warns against having your business and its performance drive your decision to sell.  Instead, he encourages business owners to set a bold vision, based on what you want and what will bring you joy and then build your business toward that vision.

An Apology to Mergers & Acquisitions Experts Not Required

Warrillow acknowledges that his advice may rub some mergers and acquisitions experts the wrong way. The fact that he does this actually makes me love the book even more. While I have nothing against M&A folks, this disclosure tells me, as the reader, that I’m going to get plain talk from this book. And  I like that.

So, what kind of plain talk should you expect?

The first three chapters are all about wrapping your head around selling your business and how to prepare to sell your business and the best time to sell your business. 

Chapters 4-12 are the meat of the book and will walk you through the minutiae of preparing to sell:

  • The process
  • Positioning your company for sale
  • Different types of buyers
  • How to find the right buyer
  • What to charge
  • Why keep your sale private and when to share the news

The last five chapters take you through the negotiation process, terms of the deal and all the ins, outs, and pitfalls to prepare for as you near the end of the selling process.

“The Art of Selling Your Business” is a Toolkit for Any Small Business Owner

At first, I thought this book wasn’t for me because I’m not really thinking about selling my business. But I was wrong. Just like in Warillo’s two previous books; Built to Sell and The Automatic Customer, I’ve found insights and advice that are extremely valuable forr any business owner; whether or not you’re going to sell your business.

In fact, I’d put any book by John Warrillow in the same category as The E-Myth because they are written with a specific purpose in mind — to design a business that runs like a profitable machine.  Every small business owner will benefit from this advice.  As an added bonus, if you follow the process in this book, you’ll also have the option to sell your business as a profit and move on to your next entrepreneurial journey.

Ultimately, The Art of Selling Your Business is the perfect book for a small business owner who wants to build and run a business that can roll with life’s surprises.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."