The 10 Best Business Exit Books
Elon Musk — when asked how he learned to build rockets — said, “I read books.” Reading is a crucial part of being an entrepreneur. And knowing which books to read can help you navigate some of the toughest phases of your entrepreneurial journey — none more so than the business exit phase.
But knowing which books to invest your time with can be overwhelming. So, I’ve pulled a list of today’s most inspiring and informative books on selling a business.
If an exit is on your mind, read a few of these, and take a giant step toward making your business more valuable and your exit more enjoyable.
1. "Finish Big"
How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies On Top
Author: Bo Burlingham
Bo Burlingham has reported on the entrepreneurial revolution in America since the early eighties — and he's somewhat of a hero to me. Through his work, he has dedicated his life to making a positive impact on the entrepreneurial community. And in Finish Big, he explores the final phase all business owners must navigate to call themselves entrepreneurs: the end-up.
Some entrepreneurs find their way through the end-up phase and create a meaningful life after exiting their businesses, while others suffer and feel a loss of purpose. In Finish Big, Burlingham draws on interviews with scores of entrepreneurs to answer the question: what did people with "good exits" do differently from those who'd had "bad exits"?
Review Excerpt: “Burlingham points out that - regardless of whether or not you plan to leave your company in the forseeable future - you should start thinking about that exit NOW. The reason is simple - looking at your company the way a potential purchaser would gives you innumerable ways to improve its operation right away.”
Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You
Author: John Warrillow
Did you start your business because you wanted more freedom? The freedom to work to your own schedule, to work with people you like, and make the money you deserve? Unfortunately for most entrepreneurs that dream never becomes a reality. Before you know it, you've stretched your business and yourself a mile wide and an inch deep. You're burning the candle at both ends, but your business has stalled. Worse, it feels like nothing gets done unless you're involved. And without you, your business is essentially worthless.
Read John's book if you're looking for specific steps to creating a valuable, sellable company — no matter what stage your business.
Review Excerpt: “An excellent business book that’s both fun to read and full of valuable insights. Whereas other business books are laden with jargon and often unattainable examples, “Built to Sell” is a practical and relatable read on how to grow (and sell) a successful service business. Part of what makes it so accessible is that the story is told in a narrative format, making it easy to follow and apply.”
Author: Geoff Green
Getting Rewarded for Your Blood Sweat and Tears
Will you get rewarded for the blood, sweat and tears you put into building your business? Green answers that and other important questions by blending together stories and insights with 7 strategies for a smart business exit. The payoff of heading Green's advice: a business your buyer wants!
Review Excerpt: Having looked at around 20 books on the subject of exit planning, this is the absolute gold standard. There are very few business books that you can attribute the label "can't put down," but this is one of them. It is best read cover to cover in a few sittings, right before your business exit journey is about to begin, as it will help you assess your current reality and paint pictures of realistic goals and the strategies to deploy to get there.
Rethink Your Relationship With Your Company and Make It Work for You
Author: Debbie King
Groundbreaking insights into what they don't teach you at business school: how to have a healthy, loving relationship with your business. King shares a tool called the "model", which will help you overcome one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face when selling their businesses: you've fallen out of love with it. This book will help you develop the mindset you need to start creating your future with a sense of purpose and transform your business into a valuable asset you can sell.
Review Excerpt: “Debbie has done a great job. From just the introduction I knew I would be in for a good read. Her honesty about her own experience means she isn't just talking theory, she is talking practical advice learned from the hard work of making mistakes and finding a different way. Refreshing indeed.”
How to Maximise Value on the Sale or Transition of Your Business
Author: Martin Checketts
Cut through the noise surrounding selling your business and act strategically. Checketts walks his readers through tried and tested strategies for growing and capturing value in a business, and how this translates into a significant premium on exit.
Review Excerpt: "The Strategic Exit is an excellent guide for owners of a small or medium-sized business. It's easy to read and makes complex ideas very straightforward and doable. I loved the comic illustrations, real-life experiences and key learnings in each chapter."
Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors (But Maybe Not Venture Capitalists)
Author: Basil Peters
The book focuses exclusively on Exit Strategies. Peters takes some complex business exit concepts and turns them into easy to read, plain English. And the ideas in his book are as relevant to hardcore entrepreneurs as they are to start-ups looking for Angel Investors. Need to understand the fundamentals of an early exit strategy? Peters' book delivers.
Review Excerpt: "I really wish that I'd read this excellent little book back in 2005 when I was setting the company up - its pages are a gold mine of practical information for any entrepreneur who is thinking of using outside finance to 'jet fuel' their business. The bottom line is exit as early and as profitably as possible as this maximizes the returns for everyone."
The 7 Key Profit Drivers to Increase The Value of your Business and Exit with Millions
Author: Trent Lee
Learn why a 10% increase really matters. Trent reveals how small gains across key categories of your business: new customers, increasing the value of each sale, increasing purchase frequency, and getting customers to do business with you for longer, can add an immediate 30-40 percent to your bottom line. Thinking of selling your business? Want a simple system you can implement to increase your bottom line? This book is a great place to start.
Review Excerpt: "This was a great book for me because it helped me focus my efforts on the end game. I own two businesses and I feel a lot more confident moving forward. Thanks to the author."
The Secret Behind Selling Entrepreneurial Ventures At Staggering Prices.
Author: Dr Tom McKaskill
Source: Ultimate Exits
Dr Tom McKaskill is one of the leading thinkers on strategic business exits. In Ultimate Exits, McKaskill drives home the importance of focussing on the buyers perspective, particularly in strategic exits. In this book, he distills decades of experience into an essential guide for effectively building a business that provides a buyer with a significant opportunity or removes a major threat.
If you want to realise the full value of your business come exit time, this book will help you see things from a buyers perspective.
Review Excerpt: “Tom McKaskill has a profound understanding of entrepreneurial companies and what entrepreneurs need to do to maximise the value of their businesses on exit. I’ve used Tom’s principles on exits over many years to the great benefit of numerous clients. His book is a must-read for entrepreneurs wanting to sell their business for the highest possible price.”
Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry
Author: John Warrillow
Why are Amazon, Apple, and many of the most promising start-ups leveraging subscription business models? Because subscribers are better than customers. Warrillow lands a second spot on this list, pulling back the curtain on how any business, in any industry, can create a subscription business. If you want to build a valuable business that has a consistent revenue stream throwing off profit well into the future, then The Automatic Customer is a must read.
Review Excerpt: "What sets this book apart is John Warrillow's credibility. He's done it. He successfully transformed a traditional business (sell the work/do the work) to a subscription model and then sold it. Combine this with his wealth of experience advising business owners and track record of authorship and you have the makings of a must-have book: The Automatic Customer."
Thought Experiments for Entrepreneurs
Author: Dan Andrews
What does money mean to you? What do you want to do with your life? Andrews' book encourages you to explore these questions using five thought experiments designed to help you "brainstorm your future business possibilities", and taking you beyond the sale transaction.
Review Excerpt: "Every active entrepreneur should consider these thought experiments as they build and grow their businesses. For myself, I can tell this will be one of those books I see myself coming back to as I move from one growth stage of my business to another."
Looking to take the plunge and sell your own business? Reach for a few of these books, and learn from the people who have done it successfully.
And if you want to know more about executing a successful business exit, you might also be interested in my guides on:
- How to build a valuable business you can sell at a premium
- Why there's never been a better time to turn your business into a valuable asset
- How to remove yourself from the day-to-day running of your business
- How to switch to a recurring revenue model (and why you need to)
- What is my business worth?
- The 6 types of business exit (and which is right for you)
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