SIGN UP TO KNOW WHEN WE RELEASE NEW EPISODES!

The Published Author Podcast

AUTHOR OF BUILT TO SELL SHARES HOW HIS BOOK LAUNCHED A BUSINESS

For some author-entrepreneurs, success isn’t planned. Instead, it comes from a series of events and being able to see opportunities in those events.

This is definitely the story with John Warrillow. He built a successful market research business, with more than $6 million in revenue. Clients included The Bank of America and American Express, and because each job was custom, the profit margins were around 30 percent.

MY BUSINESS WAS WORTH NOTHING

One day, John decided to sell his business, assuming it was worth a lot of money. He soon discovered that because he did most of the research and sales, there was actually nothing to sell. John had built a business where he was the most valuable asset.

Recalls John: “For me, it was like getting kicked in the groin, it was brutal. It really inspired this journey that I went on to try to understand what makes a business valuable. 

“Ultimately, we transformed that company. We hired sales people, created recurring revenue, a subscription model, etc. It was acquired years later by a publicly traded company in New York, a New York Stock Exchange listed company,” details John. 

John details this experience in his first book Built To Sell. This book was recognized by Fortune and Inc magazines as one of the best business books of 2011. It's been translated into 12 languages and since publication has sold almost the same number of copies every week, within plus or minus 20 percent. It’s one of those rare evergreen books that just keeps selling. 

THE AMAZING JOURNEY TO VALUE BUILDER

Today, John helps companies build and accelerate the value of their company leading up to an exit. He runs a company called Value Builder, which is software used by business advisors to market themselves and to add a value building practice to their firm. 

He tells Published Author show host Josh Steimle that this part of his entrepreneurial journey began after writing Built To Sell, 

A questionnaire on the Built To Sell helped businesses determine whether their business was sellable. “Suddenly, we started getting calls from advisors, accounting firms, merger and acquisition firms, asking ‘Could we license that questionnaire on your website?’,” says John. 

“That triggered a light bulb for me to say ‘Why don't I build some tools for advisors to use?’ And that's what started Value Builder, which evolved into a practice management software for advisors to use in their firms.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF RECURRING REVENUE

John’s subsequent books are The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry, published in 2015, and the newly published The Art Of Selling Your Business.  

He explains that he wrote The Automatic Customer with much more intention and more thoughtfully than Built To Sell. 

John explains what he set out to do with The Automatic Customer. “Built to Sell talks thematically about how do you create a business that's not dependent on you. But I had underestimated and given short shrift to this concept of recurring revenue. I just hadn't made it a big enough deal. 

“What I came to learn through doing some of the research for Value Builder is that recurring revenue is this incredible secret sauce for building a valuable company. If you don't have recurring revenue, it's gonna be very difficult to create a sort of transferable value. And so that's what inspired The Automatic Customer.”

WHY SELLING YOUR BUSINESS IS AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE

John’s podcast, Built To Sell Radio, alerted him to the fact that some entrepreneurs are able to sell their businesses for much more than the accepted industry average. 

“I was fascinated by what they were doing differently than all the other folks. And so that's what I really wanted to begin with The Art Of Selling Your Business. This is a bit of a frustration for me . . . valuation experts—people who value businesses—parade around as if there's some formula that values a company and that they are the ultimate arbiters of what a business is worth. 

In John’s experience, businesses can be viewed very differently in terms of value by different acquirers. In The Art Of Selling Your Business John explains that there is indeed an art to selling a business you’ve worked hard to build. 

“It's not just zeros and ones. It's not just Excel spreadsheets. There's a way you position your company, market your business,” he details. “There's a way you go about romancing the buyer, so that it entices them into wanting to own your company. And that's not something you could put in a spreadsheet. And that's what I wanted to communicate with this book.”

Learn more: If you appreciated this episode, listen to:

Bestselling Author Tells How Books Built His Career

And:

Entrepreneurs, The World Needs Your Book. Don't Let Anyone Talk You Out Of It

LINKS

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PUBLISHED AUTHOR PODCAST

If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. You can also watch episodes of the podcast on YouTube.

And if you want to spread the word, please give us a five-star review (we read every single one!) and share this page with your friends. 

We also share valuable snippets from podcast episodes on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

ABOUT THE HOST

The Published Author Podcast is hosted by Josh Steimle, founder of Published Author. Josh is a book author himself and his article writing has been featured in over two dozen publications including Time, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, and TechCrunch. He's a TEDx speaker, the founder of the global marketing agency MWI, a skater, father, and husband, and lives on a horse farm in Boston. Learn more at JoshSteimle.com.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I’m your host, Josh Steimle.Welcome to the Published Author Podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I’m your host, Josh Steimle.
Our guest today on the Published Author Podcast is John Warrillow. John is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which is one of my favorite business books, actually. So I’m excited to talk to John just because of that. That book was recognized by Fortune and Inc magazines as one of the best business books of 2011, and it's been translated now into 12 languages. In 2015, John published the Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry, also a great book I’ve read. And his third and latest book, The Art of Selling Your Business: Winning Strategies & Secret Hacks for Exiting on Top was published in January this year, 2021. John, welcome to the show.

John Warrillow:

Hey, Josh. Good to be with you.

Josh Steimle:

I’m excited to have you on here because I love your books, I’ve read your books before, and when your team reached out, I was like, heck, yeah, let's get John on the show, this will be great.

John Warrillow:

That's awesome.

Josh Steimle:

Before we dive into talking about your books, tell us a little bit more about your business and what you do and who you do it for.

John Warrillow:

Yeah, we help companies build and accelerate the value of their company leading up to an exit. I run a company called Value Builder, which is a software that effectively advisors use to market their themselves and to add a value building practice to their firm. But it's kind of not where I started – I started, as you rightly point out, writing this book called Built to Sell, which was after I’d built up a couple of businesses and sold them, I figured I’d learned a few things along the way.

Josh Steimle:

So what were some of those businesses that you built up and sold before?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, I used to run a market research business, that's probably the one that inspired me to write Built to Sell. It was a classic services business where we had very big clients, we had Bank of America was a client, American Express was a client, and we'd actually built it up to a reasonably good sized business. I think we were 5 or 6 million in revenue – pretty profitable, because each job was custom, so we were at 20-30% profit margins. And I went to see an M&A guy, and I said, what do you think it's worth, and I was kind of rubbing my hands together thinking [inaudible 00:02:22] can't wait for the number. And he said, well, before I answer the question, let me ask you a couple of questions. I said, sure [inaudible 00:02:28] research business, so who does the research? I was like, well, I’m involved in some of it. It's these big clients, of course, I’m involved. And he said, all right, well, who does the sell. I'm like, it's Bank of America, of course, I’ve got to go show up to those meetings, like, I’m involved in the selling. So like, all right, so you got a research business, you do the research, you do the selling, is that it? And I’m like, yeah, I guess so. He's like, well, there's nothing to sell here, I can't sell your company, it's worthless. And that, for me, was like getting kicked in the groin, it was brutal, and it really inspired this journey that I went on to try to understand what makes a business valuable. Ultimately, we transformed that company, we started focusing on one thing, we hired sales people, we created recurring revenue subscription model, etc. It was acquired years later by a publicly traded company in New York – New York Stock Exchange listed company. So it had a sort of happy ending, but it was that meeting that really inspired my journey to try to understand what drives the value of your company, and ultimately, inspired the book, Built to Sell.

Josh Steimle:

So did the inspiration or did the idea for that book come while you were still working for that company, or, was it after you sold that, that you had the idea of, hey, I really need to go write a book about this?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, look, it was after, and it wasn't – the book is not just about me and that business, it was really an amalgam of having been involved in a few businesses, and made lots of mistakes, learnt lots from lots of different mentors. So it's sort of a mash up of lots of different experiences. I was actually having lunch with a guy named Tom Deans. Tom wrote a self-published book, and my lawyer – we share the same lawyer – and my lawyer, after he knew I was not, you know, I’d left the company, then acquired mine. So he should have lunch with Tom, and so I had lunch with Tom, and he wrote a book called Every Family's Business, and he had been really successful with it, self-published and done a bunch of speaking on the back of it. And so [inaudible 00:04:37] kind of write a book, and I’m like, really. And so I remembered leaving that lunch, and I went up, because I’d sold my company, I didn't have a job to go to, I went to the third floor of our house, and I just started writing this narrative. And if you've read Built to Sell, you know it's just a, it's a parable, it's a story, which is the best kind of book to write because you can make it all up, it's just so much better. My subsequent books have been nonfiction effectively, so they require research and all the boring BS associated with actually writing book. Built to Sell is fun because it was just stream of consciousness making it up. And I’m actually going to write some fiction one day, because I enjoyed it that much.

Josh Steimle:

So you wrote that book, I mean, a lot of people have an idea that they say, hey, I’ve got something to share, but what was it that really pushed you over the edge that made you feel like, I need to write this book, or, this is worth all the time and effort, because it's still a lot of work to write a book, what was it that was driving you through that process to say, I need to do this?

John Warrillow:

That gets into deep psychological, you know, I don't know that I’m qualified to answer. I guess, in some level, I wished I had known what I wrote about, like, I wish someone had sat me down and given me a bit of a cheat sheet to all this stuff. And I was always under the impression that like a business was valued based on its revenue, based on its client list, based on its sales, profitability, blah, blah, blah. And I was really quite floored to find out that that is important, but not necessarily the most important attributes that actually drive the value of your company. And so, I guess, on some level, I was writing something I wish I’d had, if that makes sense.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. And were you thinking about entrepreneurs as the audience for this, like, was this kind of a, hey, I wish these other entrepreneurs out there knew that knew this, or, I know that they need to know this, and was that motivating you – were you thinking...

John Warrillow:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

You created a business kind of out of this book, right?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, that was not intentional though.

Josh Steimle:

But that was not intentional.

John Warrillow:

That was almost by accident. So, no, the books, the Automatic Customer and The Art of Selling Your Business were very much more – what's the word I’m looking for – much more thoughtful. They were intentional, meaning, I then subsequently started a company and I thought those books could serve that business. Built to Sell was different. Built to Sell was sort of more of an emotional reaction, and it was a moment in time where I had time to sort of reflect – I was in a more reflective mood, because I had the time, I didn't have a business to go do. So I wrote that book, and our family, I made a decision with my wife, and we had two very young kids at the time, they've now since grown older, but they were very young. We moved to Europe, and we lived in Europe for three years. And if you ever want to know how to totally screw up your book promotion is to write a book, and then go to like a little village in the south of France, that's like two flights, if not three flights from anywhere you want to speak, it's about the worst thing you can possibly do. So that's not what I would recommend, but it speaks to, I think, again, the book, I didn't write the book with the intention that it's going to be a lead gen, it's going to be a top of the funnel product for some course or some... That was not the intent. It turned out that when I was in Europe, and I was getting a little bit fidgety wanting to do something, we had put together a questionnaire that it was kind of like a men's health fest, you know when you do those men's health, like, what kind of lover are you, or like, what kind of athlete are you, and you answer 10 questions, if it says, oh, you're this – similar to that, except it was whether your business was sellable or not. And it was on the Built to Sell website. And we started getting calls from advisors, accounting firms, M&A firms, saying, hey, could we license that questionnaire on your website for our website, because we want to start conversation with business owners, etc. Anyways, long story short, that triggered a light bulb for me to say, hey, why don't I build some tools for advisors to use, and that's what started Value Builder, which has evolved into a practice management software for advisors to use in their firms. And the subsequent books have really served that software company, but Built to Sell was a bit different.

Josh Steimle:

Got you. So there's the story of where Value Builder came from. So then you've got Value Builder running, and you thought, I need to write this other book, the Automatic Customer, what was the inspiration or motivation for that specific angle with that book?

John Warrillow:

Built to Sell talks really thematically about how do you create a business that's not dependent on you. But I had underestimated and given short shrift to this concept of recurring revenue. I just hadn't made it a big enough deal. And what I came to learn through doing some of the research for Value Builder is like recurring revenue is this incredible secret sauce for building a valuable company. And Built to Sell talked about creating businesses not dependent on you, and it touched on recurring revenue, but I just felt like it didn't do enough to really drive home the point that if you don't have recurring revenue, it's going to be very difficult to create a sort of transferable value. And so, that's what inspired the book, and it was a more intentional book. By that time, Value Builder, the practice management software existed, it was in its early days, but it certainly was there, and we thought, writing this book would help promote the software company. So there was more intention behind the Automatic Customer, both to sort of fix a problem that I thought existed in Built to Sell, but also it really sort of helped promote the [inaudible 00:10:46].

Josh Steimle:

And then the Art of Selling, where did that come in, or, the Art of Selling Your Business, rather – The Art of Selling Your Business, where did that come in, what was the inspiration behind that, or the motivation where you said, I need to write this book now?

John Warrillow:

So after Built to Sell, I started producing a podcast called Built to Sell Radio where I interview different entrepreneur every week and ask them about their exit. And so, I’ve done that for something like six years now since 2015. And what I came to learn was that most business owners I interviewed sold their business for an industry average multiple, like, if it was a lawn care company, it traded at three or four times EBITDA; if it was a manufacturing company, it might have traded five or six times EBITDA. Like, those are pretty normal exits. There is a cohort of my guests on Built to Sell Radio that seemed to be playing by a completely different handbook, like, they were trading at multiples of revenue, not multiples of earnings. They were having these incredible exits, and so, I was just sort of fascinated by what do they differently than all the other folks. And so, that's what I really wanted to begin with The Art of Selling Your Business is the point of the book, and it's a bit of a frustration for me, but right now your valuation experts, people who value businesses, sort of parade around as if there's some formula that values a company, and that they are the ultimate arbiters of what value, what a business is worth. And in reality, my experience is that same business can be viewed very differently in terms of value by different acquirers. And so, I wanted to write this book saying, like, there's an art to it. It's not just zeros and ones. It's not just Excel spreadsheets. There's a way you position your company, there's a way you market your business, there's a way you go about romancing the buyer so that it entices them into wanting to own your company. And that's not something you could put in a spreadsheet, and that's what I wanted to sort of try to communicate with this book.

Josh Steimle:

Interesting. That explains the title. So going back to Built to Sell, that book's been translated into 12 languages, that doesn't happen unless a book's selling quite well – did the success of that book surprise you?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, I think it did, actually. I think every author would like to think, oh, they're going to get on a bestseller list or whatever. I do think it somewhat surprised me. I think what surprises me more is the longevity, like, we had a good run in the first year it was published. But since then, it has sold virtually same number of copies every week within plus or minus 20% for almost 10 years. So it's one of those evergreen books, which, for whatever reason, just keeps selling, that surprises me more. Like, if I look at the Automatic Customer by comparison, it had a more pointed peak of sales in the beginning, but then it's really tailed off, so that the life – it's not as evergreen as Built to Sell. Built to Sell just continues to sort of truck along every week. It hasn't died off yet. I don’t know if it will, but it hasn't yet, whereas the Automatic Customer certainly has.

Josh Steimle:

Interesting. Do you have any ideas about why that is, what the reason is?

John Warrillow:

I think it's just an evergreen topic. I think building a business that can thrive without you, so that you have all the kind of poker, the ultimate poker hand, you don't have to want to sell, but you could if you wanted to, you could bring [inaudible 00:14:28] like, that's a relatively timeless idea. It doesn't matter if you're starting a business in 2021 or 2011, it's the same idea. Whereas the Automatic Customer is about recurring revenue, and its, you know, subscription business models were really a very big deal, say, seven or eight years ago. Like, everyone had a box – remember all the boxes that we used to subscribe to and Netflix was really just really gaining strength, we were still subscribing to cable at the time. iTunes, you could still download music and pay with 99 cents a song before Music and Spotify. So that was all, like, the book was all around that transition. And so, it's kind of done, like, I wouldn't say it's done, like, we moved to the subscription economy. We're not moving. We've moved. It's past tense. It's happened, and so many of the things we buy now are subscription based.

Josh Steimle:

Quick break here. Are you an entrepreneur, do you want to write a book that will help you grow your business, visit publishedauthor.com, where we have programs to fit every budget, programs that will help you write and publish your book in as little as 90 days, starting at just $39 per month. Or if you're too busy to write your book, we'll interview you and then write and publish your book for you. Don't let the valuable knowledge and experience you have go to waste. Head on over to publishedauthor.com to get the help you need to become a published author. You've already waited long enough, do it today. Now, back to the show.
We're talking about the success that you had there with Built to Sell and Automatic Customer kind of peaked and then dropped off. With Art of Selling Your Business, of course, this has just come out in January, right?

John Warrillow:

Yeah.

Josh Steimle:

How's that doing so far?

John Warrillow:

It's doing well. I mean, it's a very small, small audience, and I pitched it to the publisher of Automatic Customer and Built to Sell, and they said, like, we're out, it's too small. And the reason for that is if you think about the audience of people who are entrepreneurial, you've got 8 or 10% of the population in United States that are thinking of starting a business, so that's about 30 million people. And then on top of that, you've got about 30 million small businesses that are really self-employed individuals, less than five or 10 employees, so you've got another 30 million, so the audience is 60 million, so the dreamers and the kind of doers, the starters. Right? But it's only 4% of all businesses that ever eclipse a million dollars in annual sales. And so, it's kind of a niche of a niche of a niche in terms of its audience, and I knew that going in, and that's okay. Because the book, I think, will be really impactful, I hope it will be really impactful for a small number of people. And that’s okay, it doesn't have to be a New York Times bestselling book, but I think it will serve – for people who the audience is, it's those companies that have between one and 10 million in annual sales, of which there are only a few hundred thousand in the United States, those are the people I wrote that book for. And again, it’s too nichey for a mainstream publisher. So we worked with Greenleaf on the last book, The Art of Selling Your Business, and that's been a great experience.

Josh Steimle:

Got you. Yeah, Greenleaf, hybrid publisher. And so, tell us a little bit about that experience working with Greenleaf versus working with a traditional publishing house.

John Warrillow:

Interesting. I mean, they're really diametrically opposed models. The mainstream publishing house will have, in my experience, had a sort of point of view, it was Random House, and they had sort of a point of view of what they wanted the book to be, and influenced the editorial process in a more meaningful way, I would say, like, they had a sort of vision – I’m not talking about dotting I’s and crossing T's, I mean, more the vision for the book. Whereas in the case of The Art of Selling Your Business, it was a little bit more me driving the vision for the book, if that makes sense. And that may just be me maturing a little bit as an author as well, I felt like I kind of knew what I wanted to say, and that was okay. So that was different. The interesting backstory about Built to Sell, I'm forgetting the whole story, but it's worth repeating, that Built to Sell was first self-published. When I first did that book, it was self-published. I published it, literally self-published. I didn't have a hybrid publisher or one of these kind of publishing houses, like, I was the one negotiating with Amazon to list it on their, you know, it's like. And a guy named Bo Burlingham is a wonderful author, I’m not sure you had him on the show.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

But he was the author of Small Giants, wrote A Stake in the Outcome with Jack Stack, and the Great Game of Business, and he's a prolific author. He got a copy of it, and he spontaneously wrote me a letter saying, I love this book, I think it needs a bigger audience, I think you should get it published. And I was like, really, and he's like, yeah. And so, he put me in touch with his agent and his agent took me on, and anyways, she sold it to Random House.

Josh Steimle:

That's great. So then when Random House picked it up, did they want to edit it or have you rewrite it or anything?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, they did. They wanted more content, of course, because once the book is sort of in the public domain, it's hard to have a launch of a book that's already out there. So yeah, they wanted to add material to it, so we added a whole kind of implementation guide to the back of Built to Sell. So the original story, which is, I don't know, it's 30,000 words, it's 25,000 words or something, like, that was the original Built to Sell book, so it was a fairly thin book. But then the Random House version of the book, the book that you could get at the bookstore today, has an implementation guide, which is another maybe 20,000 words in the back that talks about, it's not in parable form, it's like, okay, if you want to do this, here's what you need to go do. So it's not a parable, it's more of a how-to, but back up Built to Sell. That was the piece that Random House added, or, I added in conjunction with Random House that made it sort of a new book to publish.

Josh Steimle:

Got it. I'm curious, I was meeting with a friend of mine who's a successful entrepreneur, the other day, and we were talking about this business empire that he's growing and building and he said, I never want to sell my businesses. He said, I want my businesses to last for 500 years, that's what I’m going for is I’m trying to build an empire that lasts after me. And I thought, well, that's interesting, and yet, because I immediately, when he said, I’m not building these to sell, I thought, well, gee, I wonder what John would have to say about this. And I thought, but it seems like building a business to sell, the stuff that you do to build a business that you can sell is the same stuff you would do if you're building that business to keep, isn't it?

John Warrillow:

Absolutely. Because for it to be valuable to somebody else, it has to be built on a solid foundation – the foundation that's not dependent on you personally. And I think that's the essence of Built to Sell, and it gives you all the cards. Again, as I said at the beginning, you can sell it if you want, or, you can continue to run it, knowing that you're building a valuable asset. And I always talk about people, like I said, you opened your 401(k) statement, and they're like, yeah, of course, I do. Like, well, why do you do that, if you're not looking to retire, why do you open it up. And, of course, the answer is, we all want to know the value of our 401(k) is going up, even though we don't want to retire anytime soon. It's the same reason we look at when somebody sells a house on the street, like, what did they get for that house, because you're curious about the value of your own home, it's natural. And I think for the same reason, you want to have a company that's built to sell and it means that you're building an asset. And over time, as time goes on, as centuries go on, in the case of your friend, he's building something that's valuable. The sad reality is that I think a lot of owners think they're building a valuable company. And again, I speak in very first person, in this case. I went through this experience myself. They think they're building a valuable company, and they think, oh, I’ll pay myself fairly at the end, or, there'll be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because I’ll build this great company and I’ll sell it and they'll make money. And the reality is that, in many cases, that's not true. They don't end up selling their company, or, they sell it for a fraction of what they thought it was worth. So that's really the sad kind of reality of it. So I would just encourage people to think about their businesses and asset, whether you want to sell it or not, you want to build its value.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, exactly. So take us inside your writing process, when you were writing these books, what did that process look like, did you work in the mornings or the evenings, did you go hard and fast for a few weeks and get it out, or, did it take you years, what did it look like, the actual process?

John Warrillow:

Yeah, I’ve got about 90 minutes of every day where I can string two or three words together, I can make reasonably intelligent sentences, and then I’m completely destroyed. So I don't even know my name by three o'clock in the afternoon, but the time between sort of five o'clock in the morning and, say, seven o'clock in the morning, or six and eight, those are the sort of two hours that I could actually sort of think and hopefully write something intelligent. So I would get up in the morning before anybody else in the house was up, and I’d write really just with coffee, like, the only thing, like, I didn't check my email, I don't – literally, hard coffee, like French roast pressed coffee, and writing for probably 500 to 750 words-ish, you know, every day – typical business book has 40,000 words, so it was 10 weeks of, or, let me say, a 100 days, I should say, probably of doing that would have gotten me to 40,000 words, something like that. One of the things that I was told at some point, and I’ve always remembered this is write to somebody, not to a segment, not to an audience, but literally to somebody. And so, I picked my sister. My sister at the time, she's since sold her business, but at the time she was running a company, I think she had seven or eight employees, and I obviously knew her very, very well, and I knew also sort of what I think she was going through with her company. And so, I wrote to her, and whenever I got stuck in the morning, and particularly when I was sort of hung over trying to figure out how to get a few 100 words out that day, I’d write, dear Emma – Emma's the name of my sister – and that's what kind of got me going is to say, is to pretend I was actually writing an email to my sister. And it would help me to sort of formulate what I was trying to say to her in a way that didn't sound overly condescending, because she slapped me in the face if I ever like made, like [inaudible 00:25:37] was condescending, but also drove home a point that I thought was important for her to hear. So it helped me find the right tone, which wasn't overly prescriptive, like, do this, do that, and it wasn't overly clinical or academic, but hopefully, it's still not superficial either, like, it had some meaning to the stuff. So that was my process. It was my dear Emma letters.

Josh Steimle:

So that was the first book. Did you write to Emma for the second and third books as well?

John Warrillow:

And the third, yeah.

Josh Steimle:

That's great. So you worked in the mornings, you wrote to a specific person, what were some of the lessons you learned along the way from these three books, like, what progress was there, if you went back to write Built to Sell again, what would you do differently?

John Warrillow:

Great question. Not much, in the case of Built to Sell. I feel like it was, I think – look, I think there was an emotional vein that went through Built to Sell, which I liked, and I wasn't editing myself all the way along, like, oh, I can't say that, or, how's that going to play with some people, or, what about this. Whereas, I think the Automatic Customer, mistake I made there is I was sort of half pregnant. I wanted the book, you know, there's the kind of subscription universe, there are all these sort of software companies that use subscription billing models, and there's a whole raft of people who are like super smart, Uber smart around SaaS companies, and multiples and everything to do with SaaS companies. And so, there's a very deep, knowledgeable audience out there who understands metrics in the SaaS business, software as a service business, which is a recurring revenue model company. And then there's like the plumber, and the electrician, and the construction guy or gal who wants to build some recurring revenue. And I tried to serve both masters, I tried to make it legit, credible in the eyes of a SaaS founder, while at the same time being readable by an electrician. And I think it was a mistake, if I had to do over again, I think I would pick one of those audiences to write to. I think I just kept, as much as I was getting into the details of how recurring revenue models were valued and designed and so forth, I kept wanting to sound smarter than I was or am, in an effort to do that, it just didn't sound genuine in a way. So, if I had to do over, I’d probably have the Automatic Customer as a do-over, in particular, around that picking an audience, and not trying to serve two masters.

Josh Steimle:

That's an interesting insight. And yeah, I could see you writing that book, I mean, you could really split it into two books, you could have the Automatic Customer for SaaS businesses, you could write a different version of the Automatic Customer for plumbers and all these other people who they still have recurring revenue, they can still look for subscriptions, but it's a very different type of business. So now, do you have other books that are planned out for the future, other ideas you have to write about?

John Warrillow:

No, I mean, I think – so we're thinking of this as a trilogy, right? Built to Sell, how do you create a valuable company; the Automatic Customer, how do you accelerate the value of that company through recurring revenue; and then The Art of Selling Your Business, how do you harvest the value of your company. To me, that’s it. That's all I got, man. I don't have anything more to say on the topic. I might write some fiction, and I mean that seriously, like, when I retire, quote-unquote, I might write some fiction, because I do actually enjoy the process of writing. I actually, like, it's not, like, when I'm doing fiction, I find writing nonfiction trying to source what did they say, and was it like, did they, what were the words and when, all that I can't stand, the details of writing, I find so meticulous. And that's one thing I would say to authors, when you think, oh well, if you have a publisher, you'll have a fact checker and you'll have editors. Yeah, but still, a lot of that, I have found, it comes down to you, because your name is on the tin, your name's on this book. And ultimately, your editor's going to say, like, ultimately, they're going to, you know, it's your work in the public domain. And once you publish something, it becomes permanent. And so, the need to fact check and get all the details right, if you're going to write a nonfiction book is really, really high. Because once it's out there, it's out there, and you're going to look like an idiot if you get a fundamental mistake wrong. And so, that always haunted me, writing nonfiction. It's always haunted me and continues to haunt me. And that's with lots of people checking my work, it's still, at the end of the day, they're not going to be made to look like a fool, if I said something wrong, or I got the wrong date, or I sourced the wrong person, I will, because it's my name on the tin. And that always left me, and it continues to leave me, finding the process of writing frustrating in that regard, because there is a lot of detail associated with it. So I might write fiction, because I don't want to be dealt – I don't want to deal with the details, like, I want to write a story, I don't give a shit about getting all the details right.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. Well, it's great. Well, thanks, John, for being on the show here today. If people want to connect with you and learn more about you and what Value Builder does, where's the best place for them to connect with you?

John Warrillow:

Well, we've actually put together a unique page on our website builttosell.com/published, and that's where your listeners can go, they can download the videos that describe the [inaudible 00:31:52] that value their company. There's a workbook that we created that accompanies The Art of Selling Your Business that they can get, and there's also the nine subscription model workbook, a kind of checklist. It's all free, so it's just builttosell.com/published.

Josh Steimle:

Awesome. Thank you so much. Well, great to have you today on the show, John, appreciate it.

John Warrillow:

Hey, Josh, it was good to be with you.

Josh Steimle:

If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to subscribe. And if you want to spread the word, please give us a five-star rating review and tell your friends to subscribe too. We're available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. And if you're an entrepreneur interested in writing and publishing a nonfiction book to grow your business and make an impact, visit publishedauthor.com for show notes for this podcast and other free resources.

CONTACT US

Know someone who would be a great guest for the Published Author Podcast? Have a question or suggestion? We'd love to hear from you!

ABOUT PUBLISHED AUTHOR

At Published Author we offer online courses, mastermind groups, book coaching, and ghostwriting services to help entrepreneurs craft a nonfiction book they can leverage to grow their business.

LEARN MORE

© 2021 7 Systems, LLC. All Rights Reserved