How Much Is My Business Worth?

Did you ever notice that the attitude of a seller of real estate is often substantially different than the attitude of a buyer? Sellers have been known to irrationally claim their property has more value than it does, despite evidence to the contrary.

The buyer often sneers at the seller’s price, and claims the property is hardly worth buying, that the seller is crazy, and that as long as the seller thinks he has such a treasure trove, he can keep it.

Now here’s where it really gets fascinating. All buyers eventually become sellers. Some well meaning folks will display both attitudes, first the buyer’s attitude when they purchase (This property is hardly worth buying.), and then years later when they are ready to sell, they display the seller’s attitude (This property is a hidden treasure worth far more than I paid for it, and any buyer would be lucky to have it.). I love to watch and learn about human behavior, and this behavior fascinates me.

Let me bring this home to roost where the most eggs are laid. Small business owners. Many small business owners drive a hard bargain when they purchase their business. During the years they run the business, many don’t show all the income on their tax return. For example, it is commonly known that coin operated businesses are ripe with opportunities to skim coins off the top without reporting that as income. Another approach, within legal limits, is to deduct the heck out of everything and show virtually zero net income. And the Trap . . .

Is that when it comes time to sell, they want more than they can justify, because they can’t prove to the buyer it really makes all that income.

Key Point. When you purchase a business, always operate the business as though you intend to sell it to get the highest possible FMV. If you can’t prove income, you won’t get your price.

Funding For Your Business – Worth More Than Money!

Cultivate relationships with established early stage financing sources, through Angel Investors, Capital Finders, or Venture Capitalist. Even if you never raise a dime from any of these sources, as an emerging entrepreneur they are worth to you their weight in gold. In fact, they have something more valuable to you than mere capital. It’s their deal inventory. So what’s valuable about deal inventory?

What’s it worth to you to have first knowledge of the newest and soon to be hottest applications in your field? Could that knowledge give you a huge jump on your competition? Could some new technology enable you to do something no other competitor can now do? Could access to this technology enable you to introduce a new product or service within a time window before anyone else can do it?

I take time every few months to talk with those individuals that I have come to know over the years who have been prolific at either financing or finding financing for companies pioneering new technologies. For the price of a phone call and 30 minutes or so of mutual updating on our current projects, I am consistently introduced to young companies that have developed a technology that can enable me to eclipse my competition.

This past week, I was introduced to a new company with a revolutionary way to digitally color and pattern fabric. They have one name brand account for whom they produce in volume and are hungry for more business. Because of the way they imprint the fabric and fuse dye with material, a clothing designer can economically create clothing designs that would be utterly cost prohibitive under any other existing method.

Imagine the reception by buyers for major department stores when I show them at the next trade show a clothing line priced 40% less than what comparable style and quality would normally cost. What an opportunity to introduce a new line of clothing from a new designer!

And, what if we’re too successful? How do we finance production? We take orders at the trade show for delivery several months later. We’ve lined up the manufacturer ahead of time as well as the lender, a factor and even some small investors. Once we have the orders in hand, everyone is happy and ready to play their part with minimum if any risk.

How Much is Small Software Business Worth?

One colleague of mine asked me a question – “I have a selling software product. How much is this software business worth?” I think I can give an advice.

A small software business can be owned and operated by one person: a developer, salesman, manager, and holder – all in one. This business could be run at home or in a small office. It does not require massive investments to grow up – only a computer, Internet connection, web site, and lots of hard work. Well, you have run it, you are working hard, designing your product, promoting your site, attracting customers – and one day you feel you are rich and tired. You wish to load off your mind and sell your business with potential to grow.

How much does it cost?

Let’s say, for simplicity – you have designed the software title; possess a well-known web site; have a stable income and no registered legal entity, patens, or licenses. You are not selling your permanent assets – computers, developments tools, telecommunications, and the like. You have no other staff but yourself.

Here is a simple estimation formula:

Business costs = (Month net income * Forecasting period) – Holder changing expenses

Month net income = Income – Tax rate – Overhead expenses – Development costs

For example:

You are selling the software for $4000 per month.
You are paying the 20% taxes.

Expenses are $250 per month for hosting, advertising, etc.

You are planning – your software will be selling for the next 3 months without additional design and development. So the development costs = $0, Forecasting period = 3 months.

If you do not have a registered trademark, patens, LLC – your Holder changing expenses and registration fees = $0. So, the buyer spends nothing for registration.

Let us strike a balance:

Month net income = ($4000 income – 20% tax rate – $250 month expenses – $0) = $2950 per month

Business cost = ($2950 * 3 planning months) – $0 = $8850.00

Now, you have the justification for your price.

However, you need a strong argument – why do you want to sell your small gold-mine?

Good luck!