The late Peter Drucker – arguably the greatest management consultant 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:
1. Product innovation
2. Sales and marketing
Most business owners 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.
Acquirers like to buy businesses with a predictable profit stream that appears to extend well into the future. If you are responsible for selling, marketing and product innovation, as soon as you leave, the new owner will not have much of a business.
The savvy owner focuses on teaching employees to follow Mr. Drucker’s advice. That way, when buyers come along to kick the tires, they can see the business has sustainability beyond the tenure of the owner.
But most business owners are still the best salesperson and the most creative innovator for a company. As a result, customers want to deal with the owner personally.