We start businesses for many different reasons. Some are creating a job for themselves. Some are good at plumbing, or baking, or speaking and think they can run a better business on their own rather than working for “the man”. We all are so busy getting the business up and running that we rarely think about the end of the business. It would benefit us, as Covey said, to “begin with the end in mind”. In other words, what do you need to do to build a sustainable business, one that can operate without you and is worth something when you want to sell it?
Lately, I have been thinking about just those questions. I am a seller-doer who has relied on billing for my time for the last 20 years. I have done alright, but having just turned 60, I started asking myself those questions. Do I really want to spend my life on airplanes? Do I want to be so busy “doing”? How do I build a business that can thrive without me?
I asked those questions of a good friend of mine, Ron Price. He said “Before we have the conversation, read Built to Sell”. I bought the book and listened to it the next day on a road trip. Wow. I was sold. Anyone that has built a business of their own can benefit from reading this book. This holds true whether you have intentions of selling or retiring next year or in 50 years. We all need to create businesses that can thrive without us. The good news is, it can be done.
Built to Sell is the fictional story of one financially stretched, over-worked and over-stressed business owner as he attempts to rebuild his company into a company that can run without him. The story is told through the business owner’s (Alex) eyes as he meets with his mentor Ted for guidance and tough discussions. This book is thoroughly enjoyable. I found myself rooting for Alex and his small marketing firm, turning each page to discover what happens next. You will need to read the book and find out what becomes of Alex. I won’t spoil that here.
Pay special attention to the “Ted Tips” sprinkled in each chapter. They are an excellent snapshot of what we should be doing to make our businesses more valuable and/or sellable. An easy, but power packed read. The E-Myth was a great read for building a business. Built To Sell is the next step in building a sustainable one.