I would have to say that the question “how much is my business worth?” is one of the very first questions I field whenever I start working with new small business owner clients. Perhaps at this point in our Building a Sellable Business series, you know I’m discussing the actual sale of your business now. I’ve even discussed figuring up the amount of money you need for your personal sustainability upon selling your company. So now know the sales price you need when you make at to closing table, but how much should you actually expect to get? But, how do you determine your business worth in the current market?
In 2012, my wife and I decided to sell our suburban house to move to the country and live on a farm. As we prepared to list the house, we scheduled a meeting with the realtor. This realtor friend of mine sat down with us and addressed the most important question first. She asked, “Well, how much are we going to sell the house for?”
I knew how much my house was worth, so I gave her a number. Without hesitation, the realtor looked at me and said, “Um, yeah. I don’t think so,” and she quoted me the price she believed my house was worth. Hearing her valuation was like a gunshot going off in my ear, and all I heard was ringing. She quoted $20,000 less than I paid for the house before I finished the basement and did many other home improvements!
Acknowledging the sweat equity I put into the house, she still said, “While that may be true, you will never sell it for more than this price in this current market.” And she was right.
Like many business owners, I thought my house was worth more than it actually was. In an attempt to keep your blood pressure down and you from falling out of a chair when you find out your business’s worth, let’s first look at the methodology behind business valuations. In just about any sales process, there are three ways to value a product:
Are the three ways I listed above the only ways to determine how much your business is worth? No, they’re not. However, those methods can determine a basic or base price tag of your company.
“If your income stream is not increasing, then your company’s competitive advantages, its scalability, and its sustainability will make no difference to your asking price.” – Justin GoodbreadClick to tweet
If your company’s basic worth is not what you hoped it would be or what you need it to be, there are systems you can put into place or things you can do to increase the value of your business.
Go back to Article #2 to look at actual value calculations and value acceleration methods. Find your competitive advantage in Article #4. Learn how to scale your business in Article #5 and how to make it sustainable in Article #7.
And of course, increasing income is going to help drive up your business worth, too. So at this point, I ask, how is your company’s income? Is it increasing year after year, or is your revenue dropping and dipping year after year? If your income stream is not increasing, then your company’s competitive advantages, its scalability, and its sustainability will make no difference to your asking price.
How, then, would you figure out a rough estimate of your company’s value? Well, there are two things you can do.
As a Certified Exit Planning Advisor or someone who quarterbacks the sale of a business, I have all of our business clients complete a template assessment of their business. It isn’t a formal valuation. They can’t use it in court or give it to the buyer’s side, but it does provide them with a rough estimate of their business’s value. Not only will it provide them with a rough valuation, but it will also give them some basic insight into the areas of their business that may need some work to increase their value.
In all reality, your business is worth whatever someone will pay for it. But what are buyers willing to pay you in today’s marketplace? Well, use your assessment tools. Contact your professional team members. Work to increase your business’s value because more than likely, this is your biggest asset. Make it worth millions!
Next article we will start entertaining offers for the business and trying to stack the deck in our favor by using a pitch book.
As I always say, life is hard. Life is complicated. Life can be fun. Business can be complicated. Money doesn’t have to be. Let’s just remember to keep our lives, at least, financially simple. Go out and make it a great day!