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Why a Business Owner Should Consider a Valuation


Valuing your business accurately is essential if you don't want to risk leaving money on the table or scaring away potential buyers. Before undertaking the appraisal, put time into sprucing up your business and its financials. Effort spent at the outside will pay dividends down the road.

The value of a typical small business should be greater than the total values of its tangible assets. For a buyer, the appeal is that an ongoing business has everything necessary for successful operation — equipment, location, and inventory if applicable, not to mention experienced employees, suppliers, business processes, and a customer list — all in place, in the right amounts.

These intangible assets are frequently referred to as goodwill or going-concern value. But how do you put a price on goodwill or going-concern value? In fact, how do you determine the true market value of the hard assets used in your business? The answer is that you make a Business Valuator a key player on your selling team.

Many business owners don't want to spend the time or money to have an appraisal done. However, trying to save money on the appraisal, is likely to be to your disadvantage. Guessing at the value of your business is likely to result in either a price that's unrealistically high and turns off many potential buyers, or a price that's unnecessarily low and keeps you from cashing out at full value.

Keep in mind that if you sell out to a larger company, you'll probably be dealing with MBAs who are used to seeing sophisticated financial analyses. They will be much more comfortable going through with the sale (and much more impressed with your management ability) if you have a detailed appraisal prepared.

On the other hand, remember that value is in the mind of the beholder. A professional valuation can tell you the price that an average buyer might pay for your business. However, when it comes to negotiating with an actual buyer, the appraisal is just a starting point. A particular buyer may have a strong strategic reason for acquiring your company, and may be willing to pay a premium over what the average buyer might offer. Another buyer might simply be looking for certain assets to augment his or her own business, and may not be willing to pay for your company's going-concern value at all. It's important that you and your business broker size up the particular buyer's reasons for acquiring your business before naming a price.


  • Helping identify the key value drivers, major strengths, and more importantly, the major weaknesses of a company allowing the owner to solve both obvious and hidden problems prior to the selling process.
  • Determining a reasonable selling price. Many owners rely on general rules of thumb, casual advice from friends, or other similarly unreliable sources. Values determined by general multiples or rules of thumb may be too high or too low. Unless the business owner goes through the valuation process, he just will not know. If the owner’s expectation of value is too high, it will prolong the selling process until a price concession is made. If the price is too low, money is left on the table.
  • Fully understanding the value of the business will assist during negotiation. In this market, one can expect buyers to be sophisticated and experienced. They will conduct a rigorous analysis of the company even if the seller has not. They will look at those factors and value drivers that the owner and his advisors should consider in valuing the company, and they will use that information against the seller in negotiations if allowed.