A business valuation is the process of determining the economic value of a business or company. A business valuation takes into account a variety of factors, including the company’s financial performance, market conditions, industry trends, management expertise, competitive landscape, and the potential for future growth.

Why Would a Business Owner Want a Business Valuation?

There are several reasons why an owner may want a business valuation.

Valuations play a crucial role in determining the value of a business when considering a sale, acquisition, or merger. Additionally, businesses often conduct valuations to accurately assess their worth when seeking equity financing, enabling them to negotiate investment terms that reflect fair market value.

Determining the current value of a business is also beneficial for owners as it allows them to develop strategies to enhance profitability and increase the value of the business, particularly in anticipation of a future liquidity event.

Business valuations are essential in estate planning, gifting, and estate settlements. By valuing a business for these purposes, owners can gain insights into the potential tax liabilities associated with transferring ownership.

Furthermore, a business valuation serves as a valuable tool in resolving various shareholder disputes, retirements, new partner admittance, death, or divorce situations. It helps mitigate risks associated with shareholder buyouts by providing a solid foundation for establishing the concluded value of the business.

In summary, business valuations have multifaceted benefits, ranging from facilitating M&A transactions to enabling informed decision-making in estate planning, mitigating disputes, and optimizing the overall value of a business.

Valuation Approaches

Business valuations typically employ three primary approaches: the Asset Approach, the Income Approach, and the Market Approach. Each of these approaches offers a unique perspective on valuing a business, and depending on the specific circumstances, a combination of these methods may be employed to derive an accurate business valuation.

Asset Approach

The Asset Approach is a valuation method that focuses on evaluating the underlying net assets of a business to estimate its overall value. This approach considers the equity or book value of a company, by subtracting the total value of its liabilities from the total value of its assets.

By employing the Asset Approach, the valuation takes into account the tangible and intangible assets held by the business, such as physical property, equipment, intellectual property, and goodwill. Liabilities, including debts and obligations, are subtracted to arrive at the net value of assets. This approach provides a clear picture of the intrinsic worth of the business, independent of its income or cash flow.

Asset valuation is especially relevant for companies where the value is primarily derived from the assets they own, rather than their ability to generate substantial profits or cash flow. It is also employed when the business consistently incurs losses or when traditional income-based valuations suggest a lower value than the net asset value.

Income Approach

The Income Approach is a valuation method employed to determine the current value of a business by assessing the net present value of its anticipated future income. This approach focuses on estimating the potential cash flows the business is expected to generate over a specific period. The calculation takes into account the time value of money.

There are two primary income income-based approaches that are used when valuing a business, the Capitalization of Cash Flow (CCF) method, and the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method.

The CCF method determines the value of a business by capitalizing its expected cash flows into perpetuity. It assumes that the business will generate a consistent level of cash flow over the long term, and this cash flow is capitalized by dividing it by an appropriate capitalization rate. The capitalization rate reflects the risk associated with the business and the expected return on investment.

The DCF method is utilized for businesses with anticipated future growth and the potential to generate higher cash flows compared to their historical performance. The DCF method considers the future cash flows that a business is expected to generate, taking into account the projected growth rate. By estimating future cash flows, the DCF method incorporates the time value of money, recognizing that the value of money received in the future is less than its value today due to factors like inflation and the opportunity cost of capital. Future cash flows are discounted back to their present value using an appropriate discount rate, which reflects the risk associated with the business, the market as a whole, and the required return on investment.

The DCF method is particularly suitable for valuing businesses that are expected to experience significant growth, as it captures the potential increase in cash flows resulting from expansion, market penetration, product innovation, or other factors. This method allows for a more comprehensive assessment of the business’s value by incorporating the expected future performance instead of relying solely on historical data.

It is worth noting that the accuracy of DCF valuations depends on the reliability of the projected cash flows and the appropriateness of the discount rate chosen. Sensitivity analysis and careful consideration of growth assumptions are crucial in order to arrive at a realistic and reliable valuation.

The Market Approach

The Market Approach is a valuation method that relies on comparing the subject business to similar businesses to determine its value. This approach involves evaluating the transaction or trading metrics of comparable companies that have been sold or are actively traded in the market, using them as a reference point for valuing the business in question.

By examining the transaction or trading metrics of similar businesses, such as revenue multiples and EBITDA multiples, the Market Approach recognizes that the market itself serves as an important indicator of a business’s worth. There are two main ways of determining business valuation using the Market Approach:

  • Public Company Comparable Method. This method involves utilizing valuation metrics derived from publicly traded companies. A group of guideline public companies is selected based on various criteria, including industry, size, financial performance, and geographical presence, to establish comparability with the subject company. Relevant valuation multiples such as Enterprise Value to Revenue and Enterprise Value to EBITDA are then identified and these chosen multiples are then applied to the financial metrics of the subject company to estimate its value.
  • b. Precedent Transaction Method. Similar to the Public Company Comparable Method, this approach relies on valuation multiples, but in this case, they are derived from recent M&A transactions, including privately owned companies, for businesses similar to the subject company. The multiples are then applied to the financial metrics of the subject company to estimate its value. The data for this method is typically sourced from M&A databases and other reliable sources of transaction information.

The choice of valuation method depends on various factors such as the nature of the business, industry dynamics, availability of comparable data, and the purpose of the valuation. Often, a combination of multiple methods is used to arrive at a comprehensive and weighted valuation.
A business valuation can provide business owners with tools to make informed investment decisions and may be used to determine the best exit strategy for owners. The KROST valuation team has an unwavering dedication to professionalism and client satisfaction. We take the time to understand the unique needs and objectives of each business, tailoring our valuation services to provide customized solutions that address specific challenges and opportunities. Our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity, objectivity, and confidentiality instills trust and confidence in our valuation reports.

Contact our experts if you have questions about business valuations, exit strategies, or M&A transactions.

About the Author

Tyson McLaws, ManagerTyson McLaws
Mergers & Acquisitions
Tyson McLaws is a Manager in the M&A and Capital Markets group at KROST. He focuses on M&A advisory for buy-side and sell-side transactions, as well as debt and equity financing, across a range of industries. His areas of expertise include financial analysis, valuation, financial modeling, and financial reporting. » Full Bio