1. Asset-Based Approaches
Asset-based business valuations can be done on a going concern or on a liquidation basis. A going concern asset-based approach lists the business’s net balance sheet value of its assets and subtracts the value of its liabilities. A liquidation asset-based approach determines the net cash that would be received if all assets were sold and liabilities paid off.
2. Earning Value Approaches
With this approach, a valuator determines an expected level of cash flow for the company using a company’s record of past earnings, normalizes them for unusual revenue or expenses, and multiplies the expected normalized cash flows by a capitalization factor.
The capitalization factor is a reflection of what rate of return a reasonable purchaser would expect on the investment, as well as a measure of the risk that the expected earnings will not be achieved.
Discounted Future Earnings is another earning value approach to business valuation where instead of an average of past earnings, an average of the trend of predicted future earnings is used and divided by the capitalization factor.
DFE Model spreadsheet – BusinessValuation-DFE-Model
What might such capitalization rates be? In a Management Issues paper discussing “How Much Is Your Business Worth?”, law firm Grant Thornton LLP suggests:
“Well established businesses with a history of strong earnings and good market share might often trade with a capitalization rate of, say 12% to 20%. Unproven businesses in a fluctuating and volatile market tend to trade at much higher capitalization rates, say 25% to 50%.”
Valuation of a sole proprietorship in terms of past earnings can be tricky, as customer loyalty is directly tied to the identity of the business owner. Whether the business involves plumbing or management consulting, will existing customers automatically expect that a new owner delivers the same degree of service and professionalism?
Any valuation of a service oriented sole proprietorship needs to involve an estimate of the percentage of business that might be lost under a change of ownership. Note that this can be mitigated in many cases, such as when a trusted family member (who may already be familiar with the client list) takes over the business.
3. Market Value Approaches
Market value approaches to business valuation attempt to establish the value of your business by comparing your business to similar businesses that have recently sold. Obviously, this method is only going to work well if there are a sufficient number of similar businesses to compare.
The Best Choice May Be a Combination
Although the Earning Value Approach is the most popular business valuation method, for most businesses, some combination of business valuation methods will be the fairest way to set a selling price. The first step is to hire a professional Business Valuator; he or she will be able to advise you on the best method or methods to use to set your price so you can successfully sell your business.
More great spreadsheets – http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/New_Home_Page/spreadsh.htm