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How to Value Your Business

Business Value

Transitioning from a business is a significant milestone in an entrepreneur's journey. Whether you're looking to retire, pursue new opportunities, or simply move on to the next chapter of your life, determining the value of your business is a necessary step in that process.

An accurate valuation ensures that you receive fair compensation for your life’s work. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to value your business before embarking on the selling process.

Gather Financial Information

1. Gather Financial Information: The foundation of any business valuation is a clear understanding of your financials. Collect the following documents:

  1. Financial Statements: Balance sheets, P&L statements, monthly cash flow statements, and tax returns for the past three to five years.

  2. Assets: A list of tangible assets, including equipment, real estate, intellectual property, cash, accounts receivable, investments, and customer databases.

  3. Inventory: Tangible goods and products a company holds for the purpose of resale or production. It includes raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods that are part of the company's regular operations.

  4. Liabilities: A comprehensive list of your business's outstanding debts.


2. Consider a Valuation Method: There are several methods for valuing a business. Here are three common approaches:

  1. Market Approach: Compare your business to similar businesses that have been sold recently. Look for comparable sales data, considering factors like industry, location, and size.

  2. Income Approach: Evaluate your business's income-generating potential. Common techniques include the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method and the Capitalization of Earnings method.

  3. Asset Approach: Assess the value of your business's assets, both tangible and intangible. Subtract liabilities from total assets to calculate the net asset value.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization

3. Determine EBITDA: Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) is a key financial metric often used in business valuations. Calculate your EBITDA by adding back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization to your net income. EBITDA is valuable for understanding your business's profitability.


4. Determine Seller’s Discretionary Earnings: Seller's Discretionary Earnings (SDE) is a financial metric used in business valuation, representing the total earnings available to the owner of a small to mid-sized business. It is calculated by starting with the business's net profit and then adding back certain owner-specific expenses and benefits, such as the owner's salary, non-recurring expenses, discretionary costs, and non-cash items like interest, depreciation, and amortization. SDE provides a comprehensive view of the owner's financial benefits from the business, helping potential buyers and business intermediaries assess its true profitability and suitability for new ownership.

Market Conditions

5. Consider Market Conditions: Assess current market conditions and industry trends. Is your industry growing, stable, or declining? Are there any external factors, like changes in regulations or technological advancements, that might affect your business's value?


6. Determine the Value of Intangible Assets: These are assets that hold value for a company, but lack a physical presence. They typically encompass intellectual property, brand recognition, trademarks, patents, copyrights, customer relationships, proprietary software, and goodwill. A business intermediary can help you estimate the value based on industry trends, scarcity, and market demand, as well as your company's recent growth and past performance.

Determine the Value of Intangible Assets

7. Consult a Professional Business Intermediary: While you can conduct a preliminary valuation on your own, it's advisable to engage a professional like Sperry Commercial - Flint Brokers & Associates. They bring expertise, objectivity, and knowledge of market dynamics to the process, providing a more accurate assessment. Business intermediaries can also help streamline the process, providing insights into market demand, helping identify qualified buyers, and guiding you through the steps to a successful sale. They can also strategize the sale to minimize taxes, ensuring you receive the maximum value from your business.

Comprehensive Report

8. Prepare a Comprehensive Report: A professional business intermediary can help provide you with a detailed valuation report. This document outlines the methodology used, key findings, and the final valuation figure.

Review and Refine

9. Review and Refine: Carefully review the valuation report and discuss any discrepancies or questions with your business intermediary. Ensure the valuation aligns with your expectations and business goals.

Valuing your business before selling it is a critical step that requires careful consideration and professional guidance. By gathering financial information, selecting the right valuation method, assessing market conditions, and consulting with experts, you can ensure you receive a fair and accurate valuation.

Selling a business is a complex journey, and understanding its true worth is essential for a successful transition and a financially rewarding outcome. Business intermediaries, with their extensive experience and tax planning strategies, can be invaluable partners in this endeavor.

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