How Much is My Business Worth If I Sold It?

Does a business owner know what his business is worth – we suspect he thinks what the firm is worth, but in fact does not know if that is what the market would call a ‘ fair ‘ price.

When a company is private and the business owner is contemplating selling there are essentially two methods that one focuses on:

1. The value of the hard assets

2. The value of the business as an ongoing concern

When we look at category #1 above the focus gets more specific. The owner should ask himself if the business were liquidated what would be the price of those assets. Asset valuators actually break that category down into two other areas – fair market value, forced value. By forced value we mean a third party usually coming in and selling assets immediately at best bid. As one can imagine that is never the optimal selling strategy!

When someone is considering buying a business they consider the ‘book value ‘of the assets – which is simply the value on the accounting books relative to any debt on those assets. That clearly is also not an optimal number for the owner, and even the buyer sometimes, as it focuses on accounting and deprecation issues, not the true value of the asset in today’s market.

Focusing on our item # 2- Going Concern – when a third party looks to purchase a business he views the asset in the context of using those assets to generate future profits.

This brings us into the main category in the Going concern valuation method, which is the earning capitalization. Buyers, ( and sellers obviously ) focus on looking at the earnings over the last number of years, placing a realistic value on those earnings, and then determining how many more times over that level of earnings the purchaser will pay.

Lets use a simple clean example – A company has earned 200,000$ net over the last 5 years. But 100,000 of that is owner’s salary. That 100,000 are deducted from earnings in the value calculation. So we are left with $ 100,000.00.

If a potential investor wants to earn an over all return of 10% on his money then he should be willing to pay 1 Million dollars for the business – the purchaser has ‘capitalized’ the investment at ten times the return.

Business owners should also know that each industry has its own capitalization rates, and the owner would do very well to investigate what capitalization rates firms in his industry are selling at. Naturally many of those numbers are smaller private deals that aren’t published, so the owner can do two things:

Research comparable public firms in his market space

Or

Used the services of a trusted third party advisor who knows his firms industry.

The general guidelines for determining the capitalization rate are:

– growth potential of the business

– the current economic environment

– the firms position in the marketplace

– overall financial structure and stability

– management

In summary, business owners should probably be investigating valuations of their business far before they actually entertain an offer. This will allow them to focus and negotiate with strength based on solid data typically used by third party purchasers – The Boy Scout motto works once again – ‘Be prepared ‘!

What is My Business Worth?

Small business owners all over the world usually fail to stop and ask themselves just what their business is worth until they are attempting to sell their business or preparing for retirement. However, gaining early perspective concerning the worth of your business from a third party can greatly benefit the future of your business goals and overall direction. If you are at the point of selling your business or planning for retirement, succession, or divorce, this simple question has no simple answer. Depending on what value is being calculated, a third party could conclude on a much different price when assessing fair market value versus another calculation like most probable selling price.

For the sake of simplification, only the most probable selling price method will be discussed here. Since you are probably hoping to determine the value of your company so you can sell it or pass it on to an heir, this is the method that will be determined. Three approaches can be taken, including market, income and asset approaches. Market approach is when your business is compared to similar businesses that sell the same goods or services and how much they were sold for. This cannot be the only approach however, as comparing businesses in different states that are different sizes from one another can throw off findings.

Income approach calculates how much money your business is generating for you on a yearly basis and determining a reasonable price it could be sold at. Since small businesses are a risk and not guaranteed to generate income, an accommodation must be made for the risk factor. Cash flow is identified through a process known as recasting which involves dissecting tax returns and determining how much money actually benefited the business owner. By following trends of past years, you can calculate estimated future returns the business will make for the new owner.

The final approach is called asset approach. Also known as cost approach, this method deals with physical assets but does not provide much value for goodwill. Many businesses place a good amount of emphasis on goodwill, meaning this would not be the best approach. However, if your business has a number of investments in outside sources, this could be a very beneficial method of determining how much your business is worth. As you prepare to put your business up for sale, understand that negotiations will undoubtedly occur and the market will be the ultimate determining factor of what you can sell your business for.

What Makes a Business Worth Investing In?

You have always been interested in investing in a business, however you always hold back because you are scared of making a bad choice and losing your investment. However, there are some ways to evaluate businesses to reduce the risk you are taking when you invest. Of course, risk is never eliminated, but when you properly evaluate what makes a business worth investing in then you will more than likely have your answer whether the company will be a success or failure before you invest your dollars. The following tips will help you make the right investment.

Investment Tip #1 Management

When deciding whether a business is worth investing in or not you need to evaluate the management because a business really is only as successful as its management. Because of this you want to evaluate if the management is knowledgeable, rational, and able to make the right choices to make the company money and prevent it from losing money. Of course, this is an easy question although the answer is a little more difficult.

Investment Tip #2 Business Plan

A business plan that is well laid out and shows positives, negatives, and how the company and management will handle problems within the business is very important. A good business plan shows that management knows where the company is, where it wants to go, and what it needs to do to get there. Be sure you take a look at a company’s business plan before you invest.

Investment Tip #3 Return on Investment

The ROE, or return on investment, is also crucial when you are considering making an investment in a company. Of course, the ratio of equity to debt can be confusing, but if you evaluate the ROE and other economic factors you should be able to tell if the company is bringing money in or losing it.

Investment Tip #4 Room for Growth

Making sure the business has room for growth in its market is also important. A company that has little competition is preferable, but a company with a moderate amount of competition and a plan to be number one is OK as well. Just do your research.

When you are interested in investing in a company you need to take your time and evaluate the company, look over financial statements, talk to management and have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction. After all, it is your money and you aren’t going to give your money to just any company. So, be sure and confident in the company and have that backed up with proof and you will decrease your risk investing in a company.