Business Valuation Blog | Understanding Buying / Selling a Company

Historic Performance of Your Business: What Is & Isn’t Still Working?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Feb 13, 2023 7:30:00 AM

Business Appraisal Valuations Regular Review Financial Data Business Owners

When business appraisers value small to mid-size companies, the most common documents that are reviewed will include financial statements going back 3-5 years that track the company’s performance over its most recent history. This data should be indicative of past operational performance; however, the appraiser needs to carefully review what they see on paper with the business owner to fully understand the larger picture and potentially make adjustments in areas such as discretionary/variable expenses and officers’ compensation. This ultimately creates a true picture of the company’s assets, cash flows, and profitability.

As a business owner, this same type of practice should be undertaken internally every year or two so you can carefully review all aspects of the operation and determine where consistent trends appear while uncovering areas that may be more volatile. This way, you can make adjustments to correct deficiencies and further capitalize on the more successful sectors, to create an optimal working environment for the future.

For many business owners, a 5-10% improvement in areas such as market share, gross revenues, costs, and profitability can make a meaningful difference in overall performance. It might free up working capital to invest in sorely needed improvements to your office equipment or make the difference that enables you to hire a new employee to assist with a slow-moving operational area or to build up the sales force. You may determine this adjustment could make you appear more proactive and successful to a new investor or partner looking to come on board in the coming year.

Whatever the desired result, getting into the habit of digging deep into your company’s year-to-year performance to understand better what has been working well and what might need tweaking, is a great practice to initiate, especially for owners looking to get that extra edge over their competitors. This is one example that can create an opportunity to be the best at what you do and allow for continued growth and success.

Tags: Business Valuation, Business Appraiser, financial, historic performance

Small Business Owners: Do We Ever Reach the Point of Satisfaction?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Jan 30, 2023 7:30:00 AM

Business Valuation Appraisals Owners Optimize Success

A few times each year, I like to discuss future planning strategies and long-term growth with business owners, and how they look ahead while keeping one eye on past successes and failures. Oftentimes, forward-thinking involves the potential for expanding the company, however, what if your firm is at the point where everything is running smoothly with revenues and net income right where they should be?

There may come a point when forecasting over the next few years involves simply keeping the structure of the company the same while making minor tweaks to refine existing strategies that will potentially improve margins. Is this an example of resting on your laurels or has all the hard work in the past finally reached a point where major changes are not economically feasible? Perhaps you are even risk-averse to future growth since diminishing returns would be a likely outcome.

This type of strategy may be more common than you think. Being a successful business owner does not always equate to having the compulsion to constantly reinvent the wheel. In fact, many experienced entrepreneurs in niche markets understand that once you have reached a certain level of market share, you have essentially positioned the company at the ideal point where current revenues, overhead, and profits are at optimal levels.

Depending on your overall personality, current drive, and where you are in your career path, it may be the perfect time to enjoy the fact that the business is exactly where you planned it to be years ago and consider whether you want to take a breath while reaping the rewards or move onto another opportunity. You have options in front of you, even though they may not be the same ones that got you where you are today.

Looking inward and reviewing how best to maximize the benefits of your existing employees and client relationships while fine-tuning a business that now needs only minimal maintenance are things you can do regularly. After all the challenges you’ve faced and past successes you accomplished, that is a great way to keep your company optimized.

Tags: Business Valuation, business owners, small business

What New Successes Can You Strive For in 2023

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Jan 2, 2023 7:30:00 AM

Business Valuation Small Business Success

We all know about new year’s resolutions from a personal perspective, along with the challenges these can bring in accomplishing them both in the short and long term. One of the hardest things for many of us, in both our day-to-day lives, and as business professionals, is examining the things we don’t do very well, and changing our habits permanently, to create a more successful outcome.

As a small business owner, you may feel even more invested in making these course corrections for your company each year as you assess past achievements and look to improve areas where results were less than optimal. This behavior is part of the core foundation of a long-term growth strategy that keeps your business operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. As the larger industry and marketplace, you work in changes over time, you need to keep up and adjust for these external issues. Also, review your internal structure and processes and determine whether there is room for improvement in any areas that drive revenue and control overhead and variable expenses.

Consider who on your team has outperformed expectations and how they might help take your business to the next level by promoting them or expanding their responsibilities. Keep an eye on employees who may be going in the opposite direction and determine if you can bring them back into the right mindset or potentially need to find alternatives for their role in the company.

Even if you had a very successful year in 2022, it is prudent to refresh your outlook on how the operation functions, while continuing to improve and create further growth opportunities. The concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply in situations where change occurs, both within and outside of your control, in the business marketplace, and right at your doorstep.

Seek to obtain advice from key advisors and employees who you trust and work with on a year-to-year basis. Objective opinions outside of your own experience are always useful to potentially view things from different perspectives before you fully commit to a course of action.

Give yourself the opportunity to look back at 2023, a year from now, and tell yourself you did everything you could to continue to create the best version of your company. Every objective may or may not be accomplished, however, putting in the effort to carefully consider all the options to remain successful, and continue to grow, will be rewarding.

Tags: Business Valuation, small business, success

Understanding The Key Variables that Make Your Business Successful

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Dec 19, 2022 7:30:00 AM

Business Valuation Success Factors

Each company within every industry has certain key factors that determine and drive the success of the operation. It is therefore important to take a deep dive into yours and understand exactly what those variables are so you can continue to maximize the positive impact these have on revenues, costs of goods sold and operating expenses.

What parts of your business are making the biggest difference to your bottom line?

Consider the following:

  • Marketing variables such as website optimization, social media messaging, or a strong sales team.
  • Unique product offerings that may create higher margins than your competitors and allow you to provide customers with better pricing.
  • Client communications that are consistent and effective.
  • Commitment to timely delivery of your products and services.
  • A strong market reputation based on decades of experience, expertise, and proven results.

It might be a combination of these variables or something even more distinctive that creates the value added that separates your business from all others in your industry and specific market niche.

Once you, as the business owner or executive, have a good understanding of what these factors are, you can discuss them in detail with service providers and consultants such as your accountants, financial institutions, and investment advisors. You can also share them with outside consultants such as business appraisal professionals and brokers who will work with you closely to develop the documentation necessary to exhibit the level of financial value your company truly supports.

Some key variables may not be readily apparent on balance sheets and financial statements so it is vital to create a way to break down the numbers further and make adjustments that can be supported in a more detailed analysis. By carefully explaining all these factors to those who will, in turn, independently and reasonably verify them, you will afford yourself the best chance to translate them in a more tangible way that will be obvious to those who will take an interest in your business down the road.

Tags: Business Valuation, success, factors

Own a Thriving Small Business? Consider Adding Financial Plan Benefits

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Dec 5, 2022 7:30:00 AM

 

Business Valuation Small Business Financial Benefits Plans

For those tireless small business owners whose hard work and good fortune have enabled them to build a profitable, growing company, it might be time to consider how best to “share the wealth” and develop beneficial plans for your employees while accessing profits to accelerate your retirement planning. Here are a couple of thoughts to get you moving in the right direction:

401K Plan

Many of us have previously worked in a larger organization where 401K plans were available as part of a benefits package. Setting aside a percentage of your paycheck on a pre-tax basis that diverts to an investment retirement account is a sound future plan for many employees. Certain corporations will match the employee contribution up to a certain amount, typically 3-6%, providing additional advantages to the plan.

Why not set this up in your small business? This will benefit both the business owner and current employees while improving the attractiveness of your company to potential new hires.

Employee Profit-Sharing Plan

A profit-sharing plan can create a significant benefit for both the business owner and their current staff and provide additional assistance in retirement planning. These plans act like deferred annual bonuses for the employees while enabling the business owner to deduct profits on a pre-tax basis as a bottom-line expense to the business.

Similar to the 401K plan, these funds act as a longer-term investment. For employees, there is usually a vesting period that accrues every year, creating an incentive to stay with their employer until the account is fully vested. 20% annual vesting is common, creating a five-year timeline before the funds are 100% accrued.

Combined Plans

Creating a multi-level investment plan for you and your employees can create even more advantages for those who participate. For example, combining a 401K with a profit-sharing plan may allow the business owner to realize a maximum level of pre-tax income benefits allowable under the tax laws. Once you have committed to developing these kinds of ideas internally, you should contact your financial advisors who will take you through the detailed steps involved in creating and enacting these plans, while explaining how best to structure them for your specific business. This can be a complicated process so make sure you fully understand all the pros and cons involved before formalizing.

Tags: Business Valuation, benefits, small business, financial

Valuing A Business With Aggressive Forecasted Revenue Projections

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Oct 24, 2022 7:30:00 AM

Business Valuation Appraiser Forecasted Revenue Startup

Business appraisers typically gather a lot of historical financial data when working with their clients on valuation assignments. They review income statements and balance sheets while looking at the market and industry data that all help shape their conclusions. Going back five or more years is not uncommon, while at the same time discussing reasonable future expectations within the confines of the current company profile.

On occasion, however, an appraiser may engage with a new “startup” or a company that’s been in development for years with little to no income that projects a formidable 5-year forecast of significantly higher revenues. How should that appraiser approach the valuation effort without ignoring historic performance or the external data they usually rely on when looking at more traditional businesses?

The answer is largely dependent on the credibility of the forecasted revenues and their client’s underlying reasoning behind these estimated projections. Here are a few questions to ask both the client and yourself as you work through the analysis:

Is the business unique in any way to its competitors or to comparable businesses in the market?

If yes, then it makes sense to focus on those areas to support the projections that might otherwise appear unreasonable on the surface. If the answer is no, then use the available market to create some checks and balances with the forecasted figures.

Has there been any tangible infrastructure developed within the company that sets the stage for realistic expectations of the longer-term forecasted growth?

It is common with a 5-year forecasted projection to aggressively estimate much higher revenues in the latter half of this period. What has been accomplished today that might further enable the appraiser to agree the longer-term outlook is not overreaching?

What degree of hypothetical or extraordinary assumptions is being made to support the aggressive growth?

Is the client making one too many assumptions about the internal structure of the company or making future market predictions that just don’t add up to a reasonable expectation?

Overall, there will be additional challenges with these valuation projects where reliance on heavily forecasted projections far outweigh historic data. As an appraiser, don’t be afraid to question the client if you are not comfortable with the overall picture they are presenting. Have them provide a clear, sensible outline that supports the aggressive forecasts, and ensure you make statements in your report which show the level of reliance you put on the assumptions and conditions. After all, it is your work that will potentially be relied upon by other parties who may be investing in the future of your client’s company.

Tags: Business Valuation, Business Appraiser, future revenue, business forecast, startup company

Approaching Retirement & Own a Small Business? What Are Your Options?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Sep 26, 2022 7:30:00 AM

 

Business Valuation Appraisal Retirement Business Sale

Retirement can mean many different things to people who come from a multitude of family and career backgrounds. If yours involves owning a small business, there are some consistent mindsets and potential options ahead that are in tune with other proprietors nearing this phase of life. Here are a few to think about:

Keep it in the Family

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have one or more family members working with you over the years, there is the opportunity to sell the business while keeping it close to home. Consider who has the best makeup to take over the company, whether it be a sibling, child, or another relative who has been with you and knows the business inside and out.

Train Existing or New Employees For Replacement

One or more existing employees may have an interest in acquiring the business. If so, it may make sense to consider one or more of them under a buyout option. You may need to finance the acquisition in this case, either through a fixed loan or a percentage of the monthly revenue. If no one is senior enough to take over, consider looking outside for seasoned talent who can quickly learn the ropes and assume the leadership role.

Hire a Business Consultant for an Open Market Sale

There are experienced consultants who know your industry and could take a lot of the pressure off you while marketing your business to competitors and those looking to enter the market. This process may take several months, however, you can put the terms in place you’re comfortable with and negotiate a fair price with the support of reliable third parties.

Part-Time Transitioning

In any of these possible scenarios, it might make sense to consider a phase-out plan over a couple of years or so, in which you remain actively involved in the day-to-day operations on a part-time basis to ensure a smooth ownership transition, especially if you’re involved in the financing of the sale. It’s difficult for many small business owners to say goodbye to their company and the people they have worked with, so this might be a nice way to manage the process.

Tags: Business Valuation, Asset Approach, preparing for a business sale, Business Sale or Purchase Appraisal, transfer of ownership

Is Your Small Business the Best Version of Itself?

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Sep 12, 2022 7:30:00 AM

 

Business Valuation Appraisal Small Business Best Version

From a personal perspective, we all have stages in our life where we strive to become the best version of ourselves, by improving our overall lifestyle in areas such as health, career, and relationships. Small business owners should take a similar look at their company and ask the same questions. Is my operation the best version of itself or are there ways to significantly improve it in the coming years?

You know your business better than anyone, and like your own life, you can dig deep to break down the areas that can be updated, enhanced, and made more efficient with some introspection, that can be converted into new processes that ultimately increase revenue and net profits.

Some examples to consider:

Overhead Costs

Whether it’s a fixed or variable expense, what areas of your monthly overhead costs can be better controlled without sacrificing quality and efficiencies? Possibly cutting back on expensive trade shows or business meetings where travel costs are high, especially in today’s market. Review everything, from current subscriptions to the employee health care plan for ways in which you might be able to save money while keeping their benefits at the same levels.

Capital Resources

Are their less costly financing options available in the market to restructure your current debt? Would a fresh infusion of working capital allow you to invest in new growth opportunities?

Updating Your Fixed Assets & Maintenance Programs

Is your plant & equipment still functioning at the same levels as when they were originally acquired? Are you spending too much on maintenance as a result of poor operating efficiencies?

Employee Performance Levels

Are you getting the same commitment and output from your staff since the days when they were first hired? Is there room to consider adding personnel in areas that would have a direct payoff to increased revenue or cost savings? Would additional incentives lead to more productivity and increased revenue?

Market Expansion

Are there unexplored markets that complement your key business focus that could lead to additional clients and services? Are you happy with the current market share for the sectors you are entrenched in every day?

These are just a few of the areas to consider when looking to create a new and improved version of your business. Take a deep dive with the knowledge and experience you’ve developed over the years to make improvements and continue to have success.

Tags: Business Valuation, small business valuation, growth, stand out, improvements

Small Business Goals: Preparing to Sell Your Business

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Aug 15, 2022 7:15:00 AM

 

 

Business Valuation Small Business Sale Goals

After years of creating, developing, and growing your small business there will ultimately come a time when you determine the next best course of action is to sell, whether that be in the open market or in a private transaction between employees, family members, or current investors. In all of these potential scenarios, there are a few things to include in the early stages which will give you the best opportunity for a successful outcome. Here are some of the more critical steps to consider:

Accounting Records and Client Files

Work with your bookkeeper, accountant, and/or controller to ensure all internal documentation is current and organized. These records will need to be accurate, easy to understand, and accessible to both you and potential buyers during all phases of the sale process.

Obtain an Independent Valuation

There are sure to be differing opinions on the overall value of your business. Subjectivity and personal feelings can’t be a factor in determining a reasonable and fair assessment. Look to engage with a certified and accredited appraiser who can work with you and your support team to develop a credible, defendable valuation of the company. The earlier you engage in this effort, the more control you will have in the process.

Hiring a Consultant or Business Broker

If the sale is on a private level with the buyers already identified, such as in the case of an employee purchase or family generational transfer, you will want to consider working with an independent business consultant who is familiar with these types of transactions. Try to avoid hiring someone you know personally or through other business dealings as it can create doubt as to their objectivity.

If you are going out into the open market in search of potential buyers, you should think about working with a business broker who can guide you through the process and take on much of the workflow involved in getting a sale completed. They will act as your exclusive representative and offer benefits in the way of identifying the right groups of purchasers and negotiating fairly on your behalf.

Make sure they have experience in your markets and industry and have a reasonable commission plan that isn’t too expensive. Don’t hesitate to research typical broker plans and interview a few different companies before you decide who to engage.

In summary, regardless of whether your business is being sold at a private or public level, the process can take several months to complete, therefore, the more you accomplish and set up in the first weeks will lead to a more efficient timeline and effective conclusion. All the years of hard work you’ve put in getting to this stage will reap its rewards with a sound game plan to successfully sell your small business.

Tags: Business Valuation, preparing for a business sale, small business, goals

Business Valuation Consulting

Posted by Business Valuation Specialists LLC on Mar 28, 2022 7:00:00 AM

Business Valuation Appraisal Consulting Review of Work

Our blogs primarily cover topics related to the appraisal of small businesses however, there are other options for owners who may be in the middle of a potential purchase, sale, investor buyout, or dispute where a recent valuation exists, and there is a need to obtain an independent opinion on the reasonableness of the conclusions in the report.

This is considered a consulting or review engagement where a certified business appraiser will review relevant documents, and provide opinions as to the approaches, methodologies, and conclusions developed to arrive at a value for the company.

Review work is a more informal process where the consulting valuation professional will develop opinions of work already completed and potentially offer alternative perspectives as to valuing the business. Ultimately, they may determine if an adjustment is warranted to the value concluded upon in the report while providing support as to why; or they may state that the appraisal was well conducted and the value conclusion credible.

The review appraiser may also provide an opinion as to the credentials of the appraiser and the overall quality of the written report from a compliance perspective.

Much of the work that goes into a valuation review and consulting assignment is consistent with completing a business appraisal, given the need to support why the existing report conclusions may be reasonable or not. The primary difference is that the review appraiser is not completing a formal, certified appraisal report of their own. A preliminary opinion of value may be presented as part of the deliverable, in the context of the work performed and documents reviewed however, it would not be considered a certified appraisal.

In summary, these types of engagements can be useful anytime there is a concern regarding the reliability of existing appraisals being used as part of a business transaction or in settlement efforts for a buyout or dispute. The consulting assignments are quite common in the valuation industry and offer an alternative option to business owners in situations where a completely new valuation report may not be necessary.

Consider engaging with an experienced certified appraisal professional when you enlist this type of work to ensure you receive a supportable, well-researched analysis, that provides the additional independent perspective needed to make the most informed decisions.

Tags: Business Valuation, business appraisal, business appraisers, business valuation services, review, consulting