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John Warrillow

John Warrillow is the creator of The Value Builder System™, a statistically proven methodology for improving a company’s value by up to 71%. John is the author of the bestselling book Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which was recognized by both Fortune and Inc Magazine as one of the best business books of 2011. Built to Sell has been translated into four languages. John’s new book, The Automatic Customer: Creating A Subscription Business In Any Industry is scheduled to be released by Random House in February 2015. Prior to starting The Sellability Score, John started and exited four companies, including a quantitative market research business that was acquired by The Corporate Executive Board (NYSE: CEB) in 2008. John has been recognized by B2B Marketing as one of the top 10 business-to-business marketers in the United States. An aging but avid sportsman, John has dragged his body around 5 marathon courses, one ironman triathlon and the L'Etape du Tour bike race. John was born in England and grew up in Canada. He now lives with his family in Toronto.
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Recent Posts

The One (Courageous) Thing Great Leaders Do Differently

Posted by John Warrillow

Dec 4, 2014 10:00:00 AM

If you're considering a new venture--whether it's a new product line or an entirely new company--the only way you'll find out if your idea is any good is to try and sell it to someone.

A cell phone in a dog park

When Matt Meeker (cofounder of MeetUp) wanted to see if BarkBox would work, he went to the dog park and asked dog owners if they would subscribe to a monthly surprise box of treats for their dog.

And he didn't stop when dog owners flattered Meeker with a casual "sounds like a great idea" or "I'd buy it." He used the Square application on his Smartphone and asked them to subscribe on the spot. That made people put their money where their mouth was and ferreted out any hollow praise.

Today BarkBox has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and Meeker has Manhattan office space housing dozens of employees. But he didn't start there; he started with a phone in a dog park.

All Meeker had was an idea for a product and the courage to go ask someone to buy it. If they said no, he refined his pitch. If they said maybe, he drew out the questions that were keeping them sitting on the fence. If they whipped out a credit card, he tracked how many people he had to speak to in order to get a yes.

Entrepreneurship is the ability to dream in technicolor while living in reality. Anyone can dream about running a hundred million dollar company, but real entrepreneurs like Meeker have the ability to nurture a vision of what is possible while simultaneously selling what they already have.

The worst thing you can do is ask your friends and family for their feedback on your idea. They will tell you it's great and fill you with a false sense of confidence for fear of hurting your feelings.

Try and sell it and the market will give you feedback that is much more important than your roommate's praise or a 60-page business plan.

Just Ship It

Bill Gates is infamous for having reportedly demanded his team "just ship it" even though he knew there would be bugs in various versions of the Windows operating system. I don't think he gets enough credit-- entrepreneurs ship things, dreamers tinker.

Sure, Gates and his team could have fiddled with his software for years and worked out every last remaining bug, but they knew the market was a much more powerful testing ground than a laboratory.

Even the late Steve Jobs shipped things that were less than what he was dreaming of. Do you think the first version of the iPhone was all he could envision? Of course not. He knew that one day his phone would get thinner with a better camera and a sharper screen, but he also knew that you have to start somewhere and that shipping a good product is better than dreaming about a great one.

Can you damage your reputation by shipping too early? Perhaps, but at least you're an entrepreneur with a reputation to manage rather than a dreamer with an idea. Most customers will forgive a new company that deals with problems forthrightly. If it doesn't work, refund the customer's money; if they are unhappy, make them smile.

If you have a killer business idea, congratulations. Now do what Meeker, Gates and all true entrepreneurs do: find someone willing to buy it.

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10 Things That Make Your Business More Valuable Than That of Your Industry Peers

Posted by John Warrillow

Nov 27, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Over at, we analyze businesses and what makes them worth more than others. Not surprisingly, your industry plays a factor in what your company is worth. For example, cloud-based software companies are generally worth a lot more than printing companies these days.

However, when we analyze businesses in the same industry, we still see major variations in valuation; so we’ve dug through the data and found 10 things that will make your company more valuable than its industry peer group.
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When You Know It Is Time To Go

Posted by John Warrillow

Nov 20, 2014 10:00:00 AM

My guess is you’re planning to sell your business in the next five or ten years. You may have decided to sell when (and if) your business hits an arbitrary size; or you may have a round number your business must be worth before you agree to sell it. Those are reasonable approaches, but you may end up hanging on to your business well past its “best before” date.
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The Three Steps to Getting Rich

Posted by John Warrillow

Oct 17, 2014 1:00:00 PM

Step 1: Ignore Your Mother
Parents around the world typically encourage their kids to get educated so they can get a “good job,” and perhaps become a doctor or lawyer, although neither tend to be a path to wealth. High paying professions provide an excellent income stream, but two insidious forces undermine the professional’s ability to create significant wealth: tax and spending.
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The Secret Thing Great Leaders Know About Being Happy

Posted by John Warrillow

Oct 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

I walked into the kitchen as the sun was rising above the water. My friend – let’s call him Ray – was sitting at an oversized harvest table sipping a coffee made from a machine that costs more than a small car.

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