Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

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According to John Warrillow, the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. Thus, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren't confident that the company-even if it's profitable-can stand on its own. To illustrate this, Warrillow introduces us to a fictional small business owner named Alex who is struggling to sell his advertising agency. Alex turns to Ted, an entrepreneur and old family friend, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable: * Teachable: focus on products and services that you can teach employees to deliver. * Valuable: avoid price wars by specialising in doing one thing better than anyone else. * Repeatable: generate recurring revenue by engineering products that customers have to repurchase often.
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About the author

John Warrillow is the author of Built To Sell: Turn Your Business Into One You Can Sell. Throughout his career as an entrepreneur, John has started and exited four companies. Most recently he transformed Warrillow & Co. from a boutique consultancy into a recurring revenue model subscription business, which he sold to The Corporate Executive Board (NASDAQ: EXBD) in 2008. He is the author of Drilling for Gold and in 2008 was recognized by BtoB Magazine's "Who's Who" list as one of America's most influential business-to-business marketers.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Apr 28, 2011
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9781101514115
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Entrepreneurship
Business & Economics / Small Business
Self-Help / Personal Growth / Success
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The lifeblood of your business is repeat customers. But customers can be fickle, markets shift, and competitors are ruthless. So how do you ensure a steady flow of repeat business? The secret—no matter what industry you’re in—is finding and keeping automatic customers.

These days virtually anything you need can be purchased through a subscription, with more convenience than ever before. Far beyond Spotify, Netflix, and New York Times subscriptions, you can sign up for weekly or monthly supplies of everything from groceries (AmazonFresh) to cosmetics (Birchbox) to razor blades (Dollar Shave Club).

According to John Warrillow, this emerging subscription economy offers huge opportunities to companies that know how to turn customers into subscribers. Automatic customers are the key to increasing cash flow, igniting growth, and boosting the value of your company.

Consider Whatsapp, the internet-based messaging service that was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. While other services bombarded users with invasive ads in order to fund a free messaging platform, Whatsapp offered a refreshingly private tool on a subscription platform, charging just $1 per year. Their business model enabled the kind of service that customers wanted and ensured automatic customers for years to come.

As Warrillow shows, subscriptions aren’t limited to technology or media businesses. Companies in nearly any industry, from start-ups to the Fortune 500, from home contractors to florists, can build subscriptions into their business.

Warrillow provides the essential blueprint for winning automatic customers with one of the nine subscription business models, including:

   •  The Membership Website Model: Companies like The Wood Whisperer Guild, ContractorSelling, and DanceStudioOwner offer access to highly specialized, high quality information, recognizing that people will pay for good content. This model can work for any business with a tightly defined niche market and insider information.
   •  The Simplifier Model: Companies like Mosquito Squad (pest control) and Hassle Free Homes (home maintenance) take a recurring task off your to-do list. Any business serving busy consumers can adopt this model not only to create a recurring revenue stream, but also to take advantage of the opportunity to cross-sell or bundle their services.
   •  The Surprise Box Model: Companies like BarkBox (dog treats) and Standard Cocoa (craft chocolate) send their subscribers curated packages of goodies each month. If you can handle the logistics of shipping, giving customers joy in something new can translate to sales on your larger e-commerce site.

This book also shows you how to master the psychology of selling subscriptions and how to reduce churn and provides a road map for the essential statistics you need to measure the health of your subscription business.

Whether you want to transform your entire business into a recurring revenue engine or just pick up an extra 5 percent of sales growth, The Automatic Customer will be your secret weapon.
In the early 1980s, Springfield Remanufacturing  Corporation (SRC) in Springfield, Missouri, was a  near bankrupt division of International Harvester.  That's when a green young manager, Jack Stack,  took over and turned it around. He didn't know how to  "manage" a company, but he did know about the  principal, of athletic competition and democracy:  keeping score, having fun, playing fair, providing  choice, and having a voice. With these principals  he created his own style of management --  open-book management. The key is to let everyone in on  financial decisions. At SRC, everyone learns how to  read a P&L -- even those without a high school  education know how much the toilet paper they use  cuts into profits. SRC people have a piece of the  action and a vote in company matters. Imagine  having a vote on your bonus and on what businesses the  company should be in. SRC restored the dignity of  economic freedom to its people. Stack's  "open-book management" is the key -- a system  which, as he describes it here, is literally  a game, and one so simple anyone can use  it. As part of the Currency paperback line, the  book includes a "User's Guide" -- an  introduction and discussion guide created for the  paperback by the author -- to help readers make  practical use of the book's ideas. Jack Stack is the  president and CEO of the Springfield Remanufacturing  Corporation, in Springfield, Missouri. The recipient  of the 1993 Business Enterprise Trust Award, Jack  speaks throughout the country on The  Great Game Of Business and Open  Book Management.
 Each year Americans start one million new businesses, nearly 80 percent of which fail within the first five years. Under such pressure to stay alive—let alone grow—it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of “sell it—do it, sell it—do it” that leaves them exhausted, frustrated, and unable to get ahead no matter how hard they try.

This is the exact situation Mike Michalowicz found himself in when he was trying to grow his first company. Although it was making steady money, there was never very much left over and he was chasing customers left and right, putting in twenty-eight-hour days, eight days a week. The punishing grind never let up. His company was alive but stunted, and he was barely breathing. That’s when he discovered an unlikely source of inspiration—pumpkin farmers.

After reading an article about a local farmer who had dedicated his life to growing giant pump­kins, Michalowicz realized the same process could apply to growing a business. He tested the Pumpkin Plan on his own company and transformed it into a remarkable, multimillion-dollar industry leader. First he did it for himself. Then for others. And now you. So what is the Pumpkin Plan?

Plant the right seeds: Don’t waste time doing a bunch of different things just to please your customers. Instead, identify the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it. Weed out the losers: In a pumpkin patch small, rotten pumpkins stunt the growth of the robust, healthy ones. The same is true of customers. Figure out which customers add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth. Then ditch the worst of the worst. Nurture the winners: Once you figure out who your best customers are, blow their minds with care. Discover their unfulfilled needs, innovate to make their wishes come true, and overdeliver on every single promise.

Full of stories of other successful entrepreneurs, The Pumpkin Plan guides you through unconven­tional strategies to help you build a truly profitable blue-ribbon company that is the best in its field.

The lifeblood of your business is repeat customers. But customers can be fickle, markets shift, and competitors are ruthless. So how do you ensure a steady flow of repeat business? The secret—no matter what industry you’re in—is finding and keeping automatic customers.

These days virtually anything you need can be purchased through a subscription, with more convenience than ever before. Far beyond Spotify, Netflix, and New York Times subscriptions, you can sign up for weekly or monthly supplies of everything from groceries (AmazonFresh) to cosmetics (Birchbox) to razor blades (Dollar Shave Club).

According to John Warrillow, this emerging subscription economy offers huge opportunities to companies that know how to turn customers into subscribers. Automatic customers are the key to increasing cash flow, igniting growth, and boosting the value of your company.

Consider Whatsapp, the internet-based messaging service that was purchased by Facebook for $19 billion. While other services bombarded users with invasive ads in order to fund a free messaging platform, Whatsapp offered a refreshingly private tool on a subscription platform, charging just $1 per year. Their business model enabled the kind of service that customers wanted and ensured automatic customers for years to come.

As Warrillow shows, subscriptions aren’t limited to technology or media businesses. Companies in nearly any industry, from start-ups to the Fortune 500, from home contractors to florists, can build subscriptions into their business.

Warrillow provides the essential blueprint for winning automatic customers with one of the nine subscription business models, including:

   •  The Membership Website Model: Companies like The Wood Whisperer Guild, ContractorSelling, and DanceStudioOwner offer access to highly specialized, high quality information, recognizing that people will pay for good content. This model can work for any business with a tightly defined niche market and insider information.
   •  The Simplifier Model: Companies like Mosquito Squad (pest control) and Hassle Free Homes (home maintenance) take a recurring task off your to-do list. Any business serving busy consumers can adopt this model not only to create a recurring revenue stream, but also to take advantage of the opportunity to cross-sell or bundle their services.
   •  The Surprise Box Model: Companies like BarkBox (dog treats) and Standard Cocoa (craft chocolate) send their subscribers curated packages of goodies each month. If you can handle the logistics of shipping, giving customers joy in something new can translate to sales on your larger e-commerce site.

This book also shows you how to master the psychology of selling subscriptions and how to reduce churn and provides a road map for the essential statistics you need to measure the health of your subscription business.

Whether you want to transform your entire business into a recurring revenue engine or just pick up an extra 5 percent of sales growth, The Automatic Customer will be your secret weapon.
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