The late Peter Drucker – arguably the greatest management thinker of all time – cautioned senior managers to avoid getting stuck with back-office details and to focus instead on the two critical functions of any company:
- Product innovation
- Sales and marketing
Most startups don't need a management guru to tell them to focus on delivering great products, but if you're too good at serving your customers and all of your company's best ideas come from you, your business may not be worth very much.
Counter intuitively, you need to spend less time selling and innovating and more time teaching employees to follow Mr. Drucker's advice. That way, when buyers come along to kick the tires on your business, they can see that your company not only can exist without you but that it can thrive without you.
Acquirers like to buy businesses with a predictable profit stream that appears to extend well into the future. If your employees are responsible for selling, marketing and product innovation, it will be easy to see how the business will succeed without the owner calling the shots.