Have you ever read or heard something that changed the way you see something forever? You can’t “un-know” it. Change has already taken place. Awareness is there, and it colors everything, consciously or not.
That happened to me five years ago when I first read my friend John Warrillow’s book, Built to Sell. It’s a great, easy read, especially for a business book because it’s written in anecdotal style.
The protagonist, Alex, reminded me of a number of the business owners I know. He had a successful business but he was running himself ragged, and as the song goes, “The Thrill Was Gone.” He had invested time, talent and treasure in that business but was not positioned to benefit from it. A mentor helped him see an alternate future with options he’d never considered, and they were off to the races.
When I speak with business owners, I’m always curious to find out how they started their business. Some, like me, are “corporate refugees” searching for greater autonomy and deeper fulfillment. Others are in a family business that they have built or that has been in the family for generations. They have professional practices that they started out of grad school, or that they joined and in which they are now equity partners. Some just had a great idea that they could build that mousetrap better, and are passionate about helping.
Few have thought about business past launch and building. There is an unspoken secret that few can bring ourselves to speak about. I have come to know it as “the E word.” No, I don’t mean “Entrepreneur.” I mean “Exit.” It strikes fear into 97.8% of all business owners precisely because they HAVEN’T thought about it.
The irony is that CONSIDERING an exit strategy may bring the most psychic relief of any activity an owner can undertake. And simply reading this book will help begin that process. After you read Alex’s story, I daresay you’ll recognize something of your own narrative. For certain, you can’t “un-know” the options Alex built and the impact they had on his personal and professional life.
And those same kinds of questions will resonate persistently for you and your business. They will color your decisions about your firm, because you can’t “un-know” them. It’s a positive sea change that will bring clarity and relief.
If you are interested in asking questions and being accompanied along your journey, help is available.