If you are a CEO of a smaller business it is very important to look into the future and make a game plan for how and when you will retire. Depending on the size of your firm you may need a few things in place in order to leave or sell the company. The first and probably the most important thing you need to do is figure out a way to replicate YOU. If your company can not function without you, it is worth nothing to anyone else. So putting systems in place documenting how you do what you do is important.
Once the CEO position is documented with the ability to train the future leaders, the next thing you need to focus on is sales. Again, if there is no sales strategy in place that includes a well documented process for how to get any sales person up to speed quickly, the company is useless to others. This is why it is important to think about putting these things in place sooner rather than later.
Lastly, once you have all systems documented so someone else can step in to your role and run things as you did and the sales team can sell as well or better than you have, you have to think about branding as the next step. What it comes down to is the better the brand position you have in the marketplace, gaining industry marketshare or geographic marketshare, the higher the value of your company. This is why it is important to make sure you trademark your name(s), logos or other intellectual property. This will help add more value to your company when you are ready to sell it. As a matter of fact the most valuable things Coca-Cola owns are their name and the recipe for coke. These things are worth more than all of their physical assets (manufacturing plants, trucks, machines, buildings, etc.).
Honestly, you should be working on building your brand everyday since the day you started your business, or took the helm, but very few people market and brand to the level they should in order to become a market leader mostly due to expense. The businesses that market aggressively 3-5 years before the projected sales date of the company are worth a ton more than the ones that don't. Think of it like this, your product or service needs to be branded in order to sell it to the end user, your company is no different. You need to start looking at your company as the product you are wanting to sell. The sooner you start this process, the sooner all the other areas of the business will fall into place. It is similar to the Emyth concept - you need to work on the business and not in the business.
If you are a CEO that is wondering how to get started in this, then I would recommend checking out our future webinars.
We hope this helps you get started or succeeding in your exit strategy. Good Luck!