4 Tips to Valuing a Business For Purchases

You’ve made the decision to buy a business. Good choice! Buying a business can be the best way to increase your personal wealth. You’ve found this wonderful illustrious business that has incredible potential and you know you are absolutely going to love working there for the rest of your life, or at least until you make your first million ;) Now the seller is asking a price that sounds right, but how did they come to that price? Valuing a business is more than often an ambiguous process that comes down to more opinion than fact. Market value for your business is the price that a reasonable buyer would pay and reasonable seller would pay for in a normal market of business sales. If you’re reading this article – you’re not normal. I say this in a good way. You’re actually above normal. Most people who ATTEMPT to buy a business do very little studying and research into the process. Consequently they either don’t buy the business due to insecurities or inadequate funding or they buy the business and fail due to poor preparation. So how much is that business worth? Here are 4 tips to assist you in valuing the business.

1. If the business is making a profit, how much of a profit does it REALLY make? I’ve seen business brokers, and listing agents come up with all sorts of amazing projections on what the business should be making and then trying to sell it based on that number. If the business broker or seller can predict the future then they shouldn’t be in entrepreneurship – they should be in the stock market! If the price is based on earnings, and the earnings are based on “pro-forma” or projected income (not actual) then forget any price they put to the business. You’re buying income not income potential. If you want some great income potential I have some swamp land for sale for you in Florida that is definitely going to go up in value – some day.

2. If the business is losing money, it’s worth the assets current resale value minus the debt that you’re assuming in the business. This means if the business has 1 widget that they bought for $100,000, business debt of $20,000 – you don’t know the value of the business! If you can sell the widget for $40,000 and the business debt is $20,000 the business is worth $20,000.

3. What is the business worth to you? Most of the buyers I coach are individuals who are more interested in buying a business/job instead of investing millions of dollars into a business that can be made into a public offering. Consequently buying a business means replacing a full-time income for twice the work as your previous job. However people seek self employment for a variety of reasons, income, pride, the freedom of spending more time with family etc. List 10 reasons why you want to be self employed. Now put a price tag to every item you’ve listed. If any of those price tags are “infinite” self employment is for you.

4. The four P’s – Pick your Price based on Past Performance or what was Put in the Previous owners Pocket? – Pay for past performance – never pay for what the business could or should be. Remember that you are the buyer and you should try to pick your price based on how much money the business has put in the previous owners pocket. All formal and informal business valuations are established on “net present value.” Please remember that off book money absolutely can not account for the price! Off book money is money not reported to the IRS. If the seller didn’t declare it as income or benefits then it does not count for the income to determine the price.