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  • Financing Your Business Transition

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    Determining Your Business’s Market Value

    You’re ready to sell your business and use the proceeds to help finance your retirement or your next venture. There are a number of ways to determine the market value of your business.

    • Tally the value of assets. Add up the value of everything the business owns, including all equipment and inventory. Subtract any debts or liabilities. The value of the business’s balance sheet is at least a starting point for determining the business’s worth. But the business is probably worth a lot more than its net assets. How much revenue and earnings can you expect?
    • Base it on revenue. How much does the business generate in annual sales? Calculate that and determine, through a stockbroker or a business broker, how much a typical business in your industry might be worth for a certain level of sales. For example, it might typically be about two times sales.
    • Use earnings multiples. A more relevant measure is probably a multiple of the company’s earnings, or the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Estimate the earnings of the company for the next few years. If a typical P/E ratio is 15 and the projected earnings are $200,000 a year, the business would be worth $3 million.
    • Do a discounted cash-flow analysis. The discounted cash-flow analysis is a complex formula that looks at the business’s annual cash flow and projects it into the future and then discounts the value of the future cash flow to today, using a “net present value” calculation. It is easy to find and use an online NPV calculator.
    • Go beyond financial formulas. Don’t just base your assessment of the business’s value on number crunching. Consider the value of your business based on its geographical location. In addition, consider its potential strategic value to a would-be acquirer if there are business synergies.