How Much is My Business Worth?

If you are considering selling your small business, it will be important for you to evaluate your business in order to derive a reasonable asking price. Experts recommend that you assess the business from more than one angle in order to obtain an accurate picture of how much your business is worth.

Rules of Thumb Methodology

Begin by analyzing the history of your business to determine how much profit the business has been earning in excess of your own salary and benefits. Project future data based on your specific history, as well as general market trends to establish if the past is a fair representation of the future. This is typically known as “Rules of Thumb” methodology.

Market and Industry Trends

In examining trends, it is necessary to consider such items as supplier price changes, competition, and how the particular industry is performing. Also, take a look at prices paid recently for comparable companies in similar locations. Additionally, compare your company’s year-end gross profit and operating income to other industry competitors. If your company is closer to the top of the range in profitability, you can command a higher price for your business.

Owner Benefits

Then investigate the value of your business by using the Multiple Method; a pre-determined multiple (usually between 1 and 3) multiplied by the earnings of the business. The earnings or “Owner Benefits” amount can typically be used as an effective basis. This number is the total funds that you can foresee being available from the business based on past experience. The value is derived by adding the owner’s salary and benefits to the business’s profits; then adding back non-cash expenses.

The multiple that is used is mainly based on the industry. It is usually one time the value calculated if the business owner is the entire business, such as consulting or freelance services. Businesses with a solid customer base and more than 3 years in business most likely will be worth 3 times the basis.

ROI

Another calculation that should be looked at is the Return on Investment (ROI) that a buyer could expect to receive if they purchase your business. This is calculated simply as Gain from Investment minus Cost of Investment divided by Cost of Investment.

Assets

In addition, take into consideration the value of the business’ assets. This includes inventory and equipment.

Overall, it is important to keep accurate financial records. Buyers seeking financing to purchase your business will need to present information to back up the price being paid for the business.

Startup Storytelling – Create a Business Worth Talking About, and Tell Stories About Your Startup

This is one way to approach the whole of business startup, I think. In fact, it is one way of considering your value proposition. If your business is not worth talking about, then you should probably not start at all. But your business is worth talking about. Avoid second-hand stories, because yours must differentiate you.

They have to be good stories and have a purposeful message. In these days of information overload, a good story will always win over dry ‘corporate speak’ or ‘marketing hype’. If you are starting a business, your experience is a treasure trove of stories. Do not be shy. You have learned many lessons and can make them useful for others.

Entrepreneurs Stories to Attract Attention

Entrepreneurs need stories badly. If you contact someone and say, “I’m calling from the Googleplex and I..,”you will probably get attention. If you are making a presentation and you are introduced by the chair saying, “Will is from Goldman Sachs..,” your audience is likely to be very attentive.

But neither of these apply to you. And you need to attract attention fast, however good your (unknown) product or service.

Injecting some humor is good, unless like me you risk forgetting the punch line. The story need not be long and should follow the advice of Chip and Dan Heath (authors of Made to Stick) who say, “For an idea to stick, for it to be useful and lasting, it’s got to make the audience:

  • Pay attention
  • Understand and remember it
  • Agree/Believe
  • Care
  • Be able to act on it.”

Reveal Who You Are

Your story will reveal who you are implicitly, without having to churn out out your resume, or hand out your business plan. The story will of course be true and even if you are telling a story against yourself or one that demonstrates a lesson you have learned, make it positive in tone.

That does not mean that stories need to be embellished and there is nothing wrong with revealing your emotions. It could be that the lesson learned was a hard one. Your brand certainly needs its story and it should not be defensive. It should be narrative. “It’s about communicating who you, as a business, are-discovering your identity, not inventing a new one willy-nilly. Positioning helps a company become what it is, not something it’s not,” says Stephen Dunning, author of The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling.

Rehearse Your Story

Storytelling may sound easy. It is not, and you need to prepare yourself, just like you would for any presentation. Craig Wortmann, author of What’s Your Story? has an excellent piece of advice, “Approach your presentations as if your clients or people will not be allowed to take notes or refer to any documentation.”

Craig’s storytelling mnemonic, IGNITE, is worth you noting for creating your own stories-make them:

  • Intentional
  • Genuine
  • Natural
  • Improvisational
  • Total
  • Engaging.

Find a storytelling buddy and rehearse your story together. If you do not like that idea, record it and listen to it on your own. Better still record it on your webcam and play it back to review how it goes. If if you have no webcam, tell it to the bathroom mirror! A live story telling will be different because you will get feedback from the audience, but a rehearsal will iron out obvious shortcomings.

Where the Subject Sources Are

The sources of subjects for your storytelling are most effective if they come from your own experience. But they can also be:

  • second-hand; I told a story to a trainer friend and he loved it enough to ask if he could use it and he has already told it with more panache than my original, but then he is an excellent storyteller;
  • from your company experience; successes of employees, customer experiences, neat problem solutions, examples of creativity;
  • from articles that quote experience or stories recounted in books; you will find Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard’s book Let My People Go Surfing is full of them;
  • presentations of stories retold by you in your own context, if they make strong and memorable accounts that are pertinent.

A storytelling story

A former colleague of mine, George, whose storytelling is a big contributor to his business success, always made me smile when we were on gigs together. He carries a battered old leather briefcase with him. It is so old and worn that the handle is long gone. When he arrives at the front, he needs a large table by the lectern, on which he can spread out a whole bunch of notes and papers before he starts talking. He is a business school professor and this underlines his professorial status.

What the audience does not know is that, while he delivers his presentation as if he had never done so before and does occasionally refer to the papers on the table, it is a presentation he has made many times before, with the same old notes from the same old briefcase. But this ritual is one of many reasons why he makes the presentation a winner every time. He tells the stories like it is the first time they have been aired.

Is Your Business Worth Investing In?

The effect of the recession

The recession has changed the competitive climate for most every type of business and it will likely remain changed for some time. No longer is it enough to simply find a growing market, hang out your shingle, and manage the business you start into success. In today’s economy, a business grows only by finding and serving customers with money to spend. But, these customers have become scarce and are much sought after by the competition. So, to acquire customers for your business, more and more, you must steal them from the competition.

Find a business idea with profit potential

To acquire customers in today’s economy, you must start with a business idea that has profit potential. And, to find that kind of idea, you must answer the following questions in the affirmative with confidence.

  1. Have you identified a substantial number of customers with a compelling need? And, are these customers willing to spend money on the package of goods and services that your business intends to sell to them to satisfy that need?
  2. Will these customers prefer the package of goods and services offered by your business to those offered by the competition?
  3. Will your business be able to create and market this package of goods and services at a profit?

Fortunately, the Internet has brought free and easily accessed resources to help you answer these questions. It then becomes a matter of systematically using these resources to analyze your industry, the competition, and your customer in order to determine whether or not your idea for a business has profit potential and is therefore worth investing in.

Evaluate your business idea

In order to assess the profit potential of your business idea; you must complete the three stages of a business concept evaluation. Each stage requires you to complete some common sense research and analysis in order to answer the above three questions and determine if your idea has profit potential and is worth pursuing. A brief description of each stage follows.

  • STAGE 1: Find the sales potential of the idea This stage has you take a look at your industry and identify challenges and opportunities. It also has you narrow your focus on a defined market area and target customer group.
  • STAGE 2: Verify your competitive strength In this stage, you will research and analyze the competitive climate for your business as well as your target customer, particularly what motivates them to purchase. You then use the results of your analysis to design an offer (a package of goods and services) that will appeal to these customers more than the goods and services sold by the competition. This stage ends by having you determine your initial promotional strategy and estimate sales based on the results of a market test.
  • STAGE 3: Evaluate the profit potential of your business idea In the final stage, you will identify a strategy for pursuing your idea for a business and estimate the expenses associated with implementing that strategy. This should give you confidence in your estimate of the profits your business will generate. It will also allow you to analyze the effect on profits of different assumptions used in making your calculations, (especially those concerning market conditions), and determine break-even points.

It is work! But, it’s worth it!

Whereas working your way through these stages might at first seem like a big investment of your time, ignoring the profit potential of your business idea can cost you much more in terms of time and money. It doesn’t make sense to plan your business unless you know it is based on an idea that shows a promise of profits. It makes even less sense to start it without an evaluation. So, unless you have time and money to throw away, it makes sense to evaluate the profit potential of your idea FIRST!