It doesn't matter whether it's time to sell, pass the hat to the next generation or just get a better picture of where your business is heading, determining the valuation of a company can be a very complex, confusing process for many business owners. How do you determine the value of a business? The world of business valuations involves several different approaches to help answer that question. Here are the basics to help get you going.
How do You Determine the Value of a Business?
There are several key approaches that are used and methodologies within each one, depending on what your situation is:
- Asset-Based: Though this is often the one most business owners turn to, it's also the least accurate of a healthy business. An asset-based approach uses the value of the business' assets alone. The problem with this type of approach is that it doesn't account for the business' goodwill or its future earnings. For that reason, it's typically only used in liquidation situations, such as bankruptcy. It can include a number of different approaches, but if you ever deal with an appraisal company that is basing the valuation of assets in the company books, you'll want to proceed with caution when selling, especially if you have fully-depreciated equipment or assets that are still in operation in the business. Using a book value approach means that those pieces of equipment are essentially being given away in the process rather than holding their actual value to the business.
- Income-Based: When you sell your business, you're not only selling the assets, you're selling future income. For that reason, income-based business valuation is one of the most popular types of business valuation used in small and medium privately-held businesses that have enjoyed steady market conditions for a period of time. Generally speaking, when a company has had a steady cash flow over the years, it will be appraised using capitalization of earnings approach to reflect that regularity. In contrast, a company that has had irregular income will often be valued using a discounted earnings approach.
- Market-Based: You may want to consider a market-based approach to business valuation. Why? Because when an industry is in a period of rapid growth, past income may not reflect future potential accurately enough. During these times, a market-based approach looks at businesses that have sold recently that have particular similarities to the business being valued. This method can use multiples of discretionary earnings or gross revenue, the sale price of a similar transactions. In the last two methods, the sale price is adjusted for any differences between the companies to come up with the best fair market value for the company being appraised.
So how do you determine the value of a business? By this point, you know that business appraisals are just as flexible as the circumstances that demand them. If you need help determining the valuation of a company, we can help.