Built To Sell Chapter 3: Putting the Process into Practice
In his new book, "Built To Sell," John Warrillow tells the tale of a fictional business owner who discovers no one wants to buy his business and provides a framework and action plan for ensuring your company is sellable. In Chapter 3, business owner Alex Stapleton seeks to productize his business services.
John Warrillow is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker. Throughout his career, John has started and exited four companies. Most recently he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy specializing in studying and reporting on the small business market into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which he sold in 2008 to Corporate Executive Board.
"Built To Sell" is about how to create a sellable business. It's the story of an imaginary business owner named Alex Stapleton who wants to sell his service business but discovers that nobody wants to buy it because he is the business. While the story is fictional, Alex's experiences are very real for many business owners. There are approximately 23 million businesses in the United States and only a few hundred thousand are able to sell their company each year. That means for every small business owner who creates a business that someone will buy, there are about 100 businesses that do not sell. This book provides a framework and action plan for ensuring that you are the one in a hundred who has a sellable company.
Alex scanned the mail—still no check. He closed his office door and considered his cash position. The Stapleton Agency had a payroll of $43,000 per month and monthly rent of $4,000. He needed to come up with at least $47,000 by month's end. There was $68,000 that was 60 - 90 days in arrears, $52,000 of which was one large unpaid invoice issued to First National Bank 65 days ago. The bank usually paid in 60 days. They weren't that late, but Alex's margin for error was slim.
Alex turned his attention to his suppliers. He could delay his trade vendors for an extra 30 days. The phone company would give him an extra month or so. His email to Ralph Stone in the strategic sourcing department of First National Bank was brief, cordial and, Alex hoped, fruitful.
I hope you're well. I'm inquiring to ensure you received invoice #12-673 in the amount of $52,000. If you have a moment, could you please drop me a note to confirm it's being processed?
Thanks in advance,
Alex hoped for a speedy response.
Having done what he could think of to improve cash flow, Alex mulled over his recent conversation with Ted and his outline for the Five-Step Logo Design Process. He had five days to visit 10 prospects. He quickly mocked up a one-page sell sheet and had Chris lay it out and print 10 color copies.
Alex reviewed The Stapleton Agency's Christmas card list and highlighted names he had not spoken with in some time. He fired off two dozen emails and hoped to get at least 10 meetings to pitch his new process.
Alex's first two meetings were somewhat awkward as he refined his pitch. His third meeting of the week was with Ziggy Epstein. Ziggy owned Natural Foods Inc., an organic food company that made specialty yogurt and cheese in small batches. Her company supplied most of the specialty food stores in the surrounding area and had used The Stapleton Agency to build a website a few years ago.
Alex met Ziggy at a small office attached to her production facility on the outskirts of town. After getting the pleasantries out of the way, Alex started to probe for a need for his new Five-Step Logo Design Process.
"So, Ziggy, tell me about the new products you're working on."
"We're launching a low-fat version of our yogurt and we're really excited about a new line of organic ice cream we want to launch in the spring."
"The ice cream line sounds like a great extension of your business. Have you come up with a name?"
"Natural Treats Organic Ice Cream."
"That's a great name. Do you have a logo for Natural Treats?"
Alex spotted his opportunity and launched into his pitch for the Five-Step Logo Design Process.