How Much is Your Business Worth?

There are 3 basic approaches to value your business: the Asset Approach, the Income Approach and the Market Approach.

The Asset Approach is based on the principle of substitution. Meaning, it assumes that no prudent buyer / investor would pay more for a particular business than the cost to reproduce it right across the street. The main flaw with the Asset Approach is that it does not do a good job of capturing intangible value (goodwill). How you (and your employees) treat your customers and the reputation you hold in the marketplace is not something easily duplicated (and therefore valued with the Asset Approach). So, beware of the limitations of this approach. Understand that although an Asset Approach provides a relative indication of value for highly asset intensive companies, it may serve merely as a liquidation value for your service oriented company. The Income Approach and Market Approach do a much better job of fairly capturing the value of your company’s goodwill or intangible value.

The Income Approach operates under the assumption that a buyer will pay for the cash flow that your business is set up to produce going forward as of the date of sale. Buyers buy cash flow. How much they are willing to pay for access to your cash flow depends on the risk associated with the buyer actually receiving it once you exit the business. If your company shows a consistent history of steady cash flow and/or growth a buyer is likely to pay more for your cash flow stream (less risk) than for the cash flow stream of a similar company with unstable cash that cannot reasonably be assumed to reoccur in future periods (more risk).

By valuing the cash flow of your company you are inherently valuing EVERYTHING that your company does. If your company did something different (made different decisions or operated under a different philosophy) your cash flow would look different and the value of your business would be different. Your cash flow reflects all the decisions you make within your company. So, I challenge you with this question, if the decisions you are making don’t increase your cash flow (and buyers will pay you only for your cash flow) why are you engaging in those activities that don’t result in increased cash flow? They are not adding value to your company.

The third approach to value is the Market Approach. If you own a home or have rented an apartment, you’ve done a form of the Market Approach. When you compare and contrast similar properties and then use the comparative data to value your property, you are doing a Market Approach. In residential real estate you may compare things like price/sq.ft. or price/bedroom and price/bathroom. Once you obtain these ratios from similar properties you multiply the ratio by the square footage, the number of bathrooms, or the number of bedrooms in your home to get to a value for your property.

You can do the same thing with businesses. However, as you may have guessed, the value of your business is not driven by its square footage and its bathrooms. It is driven by other metrics such as revenue, assets, growth, leverage, turnover, liquidity, etc. Publicly traded companies and transactions involving other private industry participants provide an understanding of how price relates to the various financial metrics of these companies. Then, just like we did in valuing your property, we apply these market ratios to the metrics of your business to determine its market value.

Valuation is a complex matter with many intricacies that are not discussed here. The purpose of this article is to familiarize you with the basic valuation approaches employed. I don’t recommend that you attempt to value your business without the help of a qualified expert. But, I do encourage you to gain an understanding of these approaches so you can better focus on building value within your business before it is time to sell.

How Much Is Your Ecommerce Business Worth?

From time to time, I get emails from customers saying that they have decided to move on from having an online business and they are wondering if I can tell them how much their online business is worth.

Business valuation is a tough one and we certainly are no experts in that arena. But we do have some insights on the topic. Here are some of the factors that a prospective buyer will likely consider in determining what they will pay.

1. Customer Base

There is no question that a large and active customer base is a great asset. If you have 30,000 account holds on your website, that would likely have value to a prospective buyer. Building a customer base and continually communicating with them is an important practice on many levels.

2. Inventory

You need to consider whether you want to sell just your website or all the product inventory that goes along with it. Some buyers will be quite interested in your inventory and others will just want access to your customers.

3. Website

As you know, investing the money in a professional website as well as the time to build out all the content is significant. Buyers who are knowledgeable about what it involves to build a full-featured site will understand the value.

4. Domain Name

A great domain name could be worth as much as anything else you have to offer. Of course, you need to have a really awesome name. The market for domain names has declined from the fervor in the early 2000s, but a solid name still has value.

5. Brand Recognition

If you have been successful in building some recognition for your brand and business that will be worth a lot. If you have done nothing to contribute online and establish your brand in your industry, you likely won’t get much of a bump.

6. Revenue and Financials

As with any business transaction, the value often comes down to your financial statements. That is no different with an online business. Be prepared to show sales data and financials to prospective buyers.

7. Traffic and Search Placement

A buyer not only wants to understand your current financial position, but they are going to do their best to determine whether a business acquisition is going to grow and prosper in the future. A strong signal (assuming they are wanting to take over your website) is your site traffic trends. If your traffic is consistently trending upwards, that is an important factor.

Related to your traffic is your current search engine placement for important phrases. If you can show that you have established your website in the search engines, that can be worth quite a bit to a buyer. We all know that strong organic placement is not an overnight process!

Conclusion

One of the key elements for any successful business is a clearly defined exit strategy. Although it is very hard to determine exactly what someone else might pay for your business, we encourage you to start thinking about the factors we have listed so you have a compelling package to offer when the day comes for you to test the waters with putting your business on the market.

Buy A Business Worth At Least A Million Dollars And You’ll Never Have To Deal With Crooked Sellers

I am always railing on and on about why people should buy businesses worth at least a million dollars or more. That are big, with lots of cash flow and with a management team already in place who know what they are doing — so you can just sort of step in and let things go “as is” and not have to think about it.

However, besides all the financial reasons, there is another — very powerful — reason to only go after large businesses like this. A reason almost nobody ever talks about and yet, is probably a more important reason than any other.

And that reason is, quite simply, people who own large businesses, that have good numbers, and that can prove their business is what it is, are almost always straight-shooters and not crooks.

It’s true. I have been doing this for over 50 years and I can tell you right now, the chance of you running into a person that has a business making a million a year that doesn’t have a good word or isn’t a good person…is almost zero percent. There may be exceptions to this, but I have never, in all these years, run into one that wasn’t a man of his word and didn’t genuinely want the deal to go down fairly, squarely and exactly as we agreed to.

Does this mean they are all going to be your best friend?

No. In fact, I have run into one that I haven’t gotten along with. But at this level, where there’s a lot of money at stake, they’re basically all nice people. They’re easy to get along with. And keep in mind, one of the main reasons they are so nice and friendly is because they know you have cash. When you pay cash (using investor financing) you do all the talking. You’re the one who is really in control, and they know it.