Small Business Valuation: How to Determine Your Business’s worth

Running a small company requires you to wear several hats. Entrepreneurs and small company owners have a lot on their plates, from accounting to marketing to growing their product or service offerings. Small business owners should constantly establish the worth of their company, even if it might be challenging to find the time.

Your company must be prepared for a prospective sale given the historic pace at which small companies are being sold. Even if you don’t intend to sell your company, it’s a good idea to be aware of its value.

But it’s easier said than done to estimate the value of your company. If you’re not sure how much your company is worth, consult a business professional to acquire a precise estimate. We chatted with specialists who provided some advice on how companies might discover their worth.

What is a business valuation?

The process of figuring out a firm’s economic worth is called a business valuation. When determining a firm’s valuation, analysts will take into account elements including corporate leadership, the asset’s present market worth, and projected future profits.

A frequent business appraisal is an excellent idea since it may show you where your business can be improved. However, a company valuation may also be employed when developing an exit strategy, getting ready to sell a firm, or seeking for capital.

What’s the benefit of knowing your business’s value?

If a business owner is considering selling it, knowing the worth of the company is crucial knowledge. You run the risk of losing money if you attempt to negotiate a contract without first knowing how much your company is worth.

Many small business owners forget to estimate the worth of their company, but you may quickly fix this oversight. Speak to a business appraiser or adviser if you’ve invested many hours in your company; they may assist you assess how much your company is worth.

According to Justin Goodbread, owner and CEO of Financially Simple, “many company owners anticipate the cash they receive from the eventual sale of their firm to pay their retirement.” “However, the majority wait until they are ready to sell their firm before having a formal appraisal done. The realization that they haven’t added enough value to their company to meet their retirement ambitions shocks a lot of people.

You may plan for the future as you get ready for retirement with the aid of a company assessment.

“You have no time to raise the worth of your firm if you wait to analyses your business’s value until you want to or have to retire,” Goodbread said. “You may work with expert advisers to improve the value of your capital, including your cash flow, tangible assets, and intangible assets, which will subsequently enhance the value of your firm, but if you don’t know the worth of your business beforehand, you will only receive what you can get.”

What are the different methods of determining valuation?

Most investors base their valuation decisions on one of three major methods: comparable transactions, precedent deals, or discounted cash flow analyses.

Comparable analysis:

By examining the criteria of other firms in the same sector, this technique of valuation determines the current worth of a company. Comparable analysis, a kind of comparable valuation, considers the market capitalization, profits before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), as well as the size and share price of the firm (EBITDA).

Precedent transactions analysis:

Analyzing prior transactions is another method of relative value. The company is contrasted with others in its industry that have lately been sold. The values, however, are susceptible to ageing as time goes on.

Discounted cash flow analysis:

Discounted cash flow analysis (DCF) is an intrinsic valuation form, in contrast to the other two valuation techniques. A business’s worth is determined by its anticipated future cash flow using a DCF analysis.

What factors should I be aware of when placing a value on my business?

It’s critical to be knowledgeable in a few key business sectors in addition to employing certain formulae to determine your company worth.

Tangible assets:

Machinery, real estate, and inventories are examples of tangible assets. The worth of physical assets may be determined with ease.

Intangible assets:

Trademarks, patents, and brand awareness are examples of intangible assets. You should be aware of the monetary worth of your intangible assets since they may greatly increase a company’s value.


Business obligations, such as any debts your company owes, are taken into account when determining its value.

Financial metrics:

Is your company successful? In such case, what is your yearly profit? How much money does your company make? Know every detail of your financial accounts since prospective investors or purchasers will want to see them.

A side advantage of doing a business appraisal is understanding your company’s assets. You may find out what makes your company valuable and how valuable those assets are by examining both physical and intangible assets.

Even if you decide not to sell your company, being aware of its value might help you make better choices in the future. Do you, for instance, have a significant amount of cash locked up in inventory? This realization could alter how you approach inventory management going ahead.

How to calculate your business’s value

The worth of your company is influenced by a wide range of aspects, including its size, your staff, your projected growth, and a great number of others.

A few formulae are often employed to determine a company’s worth. Business valuation is far from being an exact science, and exact calculations differ from firm to company.

David Creech, a former owner of the company brokerage and consulting firm DVAR Business Group, said: “Unfortunately, if we have 10 different individuals in a room attempting to calculate a price for our business, we will more than likely hear 11 different responses.

Let’s examine some of the value determination formulas that are most often used.


It’s important to define seller’s discretionary earnings (SDE) and EBITDA before moving on to the calculations.

SDE stands for a company’s net income before the owner’s pay is subtracted. For the computation, additional optional, non-operating expenditures are included. The name of the calculation, EBITDA, clearly indicates what is involved.

SDE is often used to determine a small company’ value, while EBITDA is used to determine a bigger business’ value. There is no clear criterion for whether to utilise SDE or EBITDA, however some sources use a benchmark of $1 million in gross yearly sales to distinguish between a small firm and a bigger one.

When I price small enterprises, I prefer to utilise the SDE model, Creech stated. “I review the profit and loss records, identify owner addbacks and perks, and then increase net income. I then take this total and multiply it by the particular multiple for the industry. This provides me with a starting point for talks with possible purchasers.

Both the SDE approach and the EBITDA method of determining a company’s worth are subject to industry-specific multiples. These multiples differ per industry and are based on historical data and current trends.

Search online and heed the guidance of a website like Valuation Academy to discover a proper multiple for your sector. You may also consult a certified business appraiser, who will be able to examine which multiple makes the most sense for your company in further detail.

2. EBITDA multiples

The EBITDA multiples calculation is one of three commonly used methods for determining company value, according to Jeff Rasmussen, founder of Fairway Business Advisors. “There are three main ways to figure out how much a firm is worth: by multiplying sales, by multiplying adjusted EBITDA, and by multiplying adjusted EBITDA by discounted cash flow.”

Several variables, such as the industry, company size, and business development, affect multiples. a company undergoes several adjustments throughout time. You must conduct the following computation to determine an enterprise multiple, often known as an EV multiple:

EV ÷ EBITDA = Enterprise multiple

Market capitalization, debt, minority interest, and preferred shares are added to determine EV. Then you deduct money. The next enterprise multiple informs prospective investors or purchasers since low ratios may indicate that a company is undervalued. Smaller enterprises shouldn’t pay too much attention to this calculation since it is largely employed by large corporations.

3. Comps method

Another technique to determine your company’s value accurately is to compare it to others in your sector.

Brian Cairns, the owner of ProStrategix Consulting, advised employing the comps technique for small enterprises. “Try to locate a firm like yours that has been funded or sold. Use that multiplier to calculate your sales. Business brokers and public average multiples both sometimes come in handy for this. I would advise you to visit a specialist if you are having trouble finding comparable.

Too much reliance on formulae, however, should be avoided since they don’t always reveal the complete picture.

Seth Webber, partner and head of BerryDunn’s Valuation Services Group, said, “A weakness in the application of formulae may be proven as follows.”EBITDA for Company A for the previous five years was $1 million on average. Company A operates a taxi business in a community that has vehemently opposed the introduction of Uber. But now that the political landscape has changed, Uber is ready to arrive in their city.

“Company B also has a five-year average EBITDA of $1 million. Pharmaceutical research and development is done by Company B. They just received FDA approval for their most recent medicine and anticipate quadrupling their EBITDA in the next years. EBITDA is the same for both businesses. Are they equally valuable? Definitely not.

How do investors evaluate my business?

Consider what a prospective buyer or investor would want to know when calculating the value of your firm and the elements that affect it.

According to Michael Ott, CEO of Rantizo, “there are straightforward mathematical approaches to assess the worth of a firm, but they are contingent on the quality of the data utilized in the computation.” Usually, a lead investor and the firm come to an agreement based on a variety of parameters that are agreeable to both parties.

You must appeal to how people evaluate firms if you want to draw in investors or purchasers. Use the SDE and other approaches if they do to estimate the value of your company. If they want to employ a different approach, it might be how they decide on a purchase price and value.

I’ve bought and sold my own companies and helped others accomplish the same, according to Creech. The only thing that counts is what you’re willing to sell for and what I’m prepared to pay, I’ve discovered one fact that never changes.

If you’re determining the worth of your company just for informational reasons, try a few different approaches to get a sense of how various investors and purchasers may value your company.

Ott said that valuations are more of an art than a science, particularly for startups and early-stage private firms. “If revenues exist and are typical of the industry, a suitable multiple for the industry may be applied to get a reasonably realistic estimate. More interpretation is required if revenues don’t exist or if they don’t accurately represent the business’s trajectory. There are a dozen different methods for valuing a company, and using a mix of three or four of them may be effective.

How can I value my business at different stages in its growth?

A startup is harder to value than an existing firm that has been in operation for 30 years. It may be difficult to predict how big a brand may go when it is a younger firm that must cope with initial expenditures and has less financial history.

On the other hand, a 30-year-old company has years’ worth of financial records and an established brand that may be simpler to evaluate. This makes it challenging to determine the worth of your company at various points in its growth cycle.

When faced with difficulties like these, you may use a variety of techniques and project statistics to get broad estimations of the value of your company.

The best course of action, according to Stephen Opler, partner at Barnes & Thornburg, is to meet with an investment banker or someone skilled in determining company value. He added that if business owners are unaware of the worth of their company, they may find it difficult to negotiate with prospective purchasers. It’s important to understand if an unexpected offer to purchase your company is reasonable given the current market conditions.

There is nothing duller than a one-horse race, as I always tell people.

Speaking with a qualified business appraiser makes it simpler to assess the value of your company at various phases of development, assisting you in getting ready for a prospective sale of your company.

Although consulting an expert may be expensive, the strategic insights you get could be worth the investment.

It sounds like a lot of money to hire an investment banker for $1 million, right? Stated Opler. “But do you really care if they raise the purchasing price by $1.5 million?”

How often should I calculate my business’s value?

There are many methods for determining company value for informative reasons. You may assess your worth using a few formulae, or you can consult a company appraiser.

It’s not required to hire a business appraiser if you only need the facts and don’t plan on selling your company anytime soon. A business appraiser might be hired to provide a more precise appraisal, but the increased expense might not be justified.

Knowing the worth of your company is only a feel-good activity until you are prepared to sell or execute a repurchase from your partners, but it may serve as a reference point going forward, according to James Cassel, chairman and co-founder of investment banking firm Cassel Salpeter & Co.

An yearly appraisal is ideal if you don’t want to sell your firm anytime soon and just want to know how much it is worth. Others may advise doing your own calculations for a yearly appraisal and communicating with an appraiser every few years. It mostly relies on your company’s requirements and when you anticipate going on the market to sell your company.

Knowing your business’s worth

Knowing the value of your company is a good thing, and there are many methods for doing so. Whatever approach you use, be sure to update your figures every year and consult a qualified company appraiser for the most precise estimation.

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