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Business Valuation Explained: Calculating Your Company’s Worth

Posted by Devayani Bapat

May 16, 2024

An all-you-need-to-know-guide for all things business valuation.

Picture this: You’re an experienced chef running a local cafe, having spent years perfecting your blend of spices and techniques. Each dish you serve is a testament to your skill and the intrinsic value of your business. Now, you’re looking to sell your cafe to expand and start a new, larger restaurant. This raises an important question: This raises an important question: How much is your business worth?

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This is where business valuation comes into play. Determining your business’s financial value is crucial, especially when preparing for a sale, merger, acquisition, or tax assessment. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of business valuation and help you understand how to objectively evaluate the different methods available for accurately valuing your business.

What Is a Business Valuation?

A business valuation is a detailed financial analysis typically conducted by third-party experts to determine the economic value of all or part of a business enterprise. This process is crucial in quantifying a business’s worth in monetary terms, providing a vital metric for all stakeholders involved. 

The necessity for a business valuation often arises when owners want to sell their business. This valuation plays an instrumental role in setting a fair price that reflects a wholesome overview of the company’s financial health, market position, and future potential. Conducting a thorough valuation ensures that the seller receives an appropriate return on their investment and that the buyer pays a reasonable price. 

The valuation process, carried out by expert professionals, involves analyzing financial statements, market conditions, and comparable company analysis, among other factors. This 360-degree overview assessment helps stakeholders make informed decisions during critical business transactions, such as a business sale, merger, or acquisition. 

Ultimately, a business valuation facilitates fair and informed business transactions and supports strategic planning and potential restructuring. It is an indispensable tool in the toolkit of business owners, financial advisors, and investors who aim to understand the actual value of a business in a clear, objective, and quantifiable manner.

The Basics of Business Valuation

Valuing a business is a fundamental concept in corporate finance and key to strategic decision-making. It is essential when a business owner wants to sell or participate in a merger or acquisition. Before we dive into methodologies, it is necessary to acquaint ourselves with the basics, and here is a detailed explanation to guide you through its nitty-gritty.

What is the Purpose of Business Valuation?

Business valuation serves several crucial purposes across different business scenarios.

Firstly, it is essential when a business owner intends to sell all or part of a company or when planning to merge with or acquire another business. In these instances, The company valuation process helps establish a fair price, ensuring equitable transactions for all parties involved.

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Moreover, valuation aids business owners in understanding their company’s worth and market position. This knowledge is invaluable, enabling them to make informed decisions about self-sustained growth or strategic future planning. 

Another big one is business valuation tax compliance. The IRS mandates that fair market value be the basis for business valuations. Therefore, an accurate valuation is indispensable for determining the tax implications and obligations involved when buying, selling, or gifting company shares.

Business owners and investors rely on business valuations to assess the viability and profitability of investing in a specific company, ensuring that their investment decisions are well-founded. Understanding these fundamentals equips stakeholders with the tools to evaluate a business’s worth accurately, supporting a range of financial and strategic decisions.

Methods of Valuation

  • Book Value:

Book Value is an essential way to assess a company’s worth using its financial statements. It involves taking a company’s total assets and deducting all its liabilities to get something commonly known as the owner’s equity. In this case, you must remove the value of intangible assets and focus primarily on only the physical, tangible assets. 

However, this method does have a con. The values in a balance sheet do not always reflect the actual value. This is because, at times, they are recorded at a historical cost, which means a company’s accurate resources may be underplayed. Hence, while it is easy to conduct, it may not paint a thorough and accurate picture.

To put it into a formula:

Book Value = ( Total Assets − Intangible Assets ) − Total Liabilities 

This formula helps you calculate the book value by focusing solely on the company’s tangible assets after settling all its debts.

  • Discounted Cash Flows (DCF)

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) is considered a comprehensive method for valuing a business, often regarded as a top-notch and the most thorough valuation approach.

This method calculates a company’s value based on its future cash earnings. These future earnings are adjusted to their present value by applying a discount rate, which accounts for the time value of money and investment risks. 

To put it into a formula:

Discounted Cash Flow =   Cash Flow for year 1 / (1+Discount Rate)1 + Cash Flow for year 2 / (1+Discount Rate) 2 + Cash Flow for year N / (1+Discount Rate) n

DCF is particularly effective because it focuses on future profitability and cash generation, providing a dynamic view of a company’s financial health. However, its accuracy heavily depends on the assumptions and predictions used for future growth and discount rates, making the valuation subjective.

  • Market Capitalization

This is one of the most straightforward methods of calculating a business’s value. It is usually used for publicly traded companies and is calculated by multiplying the current market price of a company’s stock by the total number of shares outstanding.

To put it into a formula:

Market Capitalization = Share Price × Total Shares 

Highly popular with most financial advisors and professionals, this method is simple, easy, and a true direct reflection of what the company’s value in the market equates to at a given time. The only drawback is that it considers the value of equity and ignores debt, potentially misleading in understanding a company’s financial standing.

  • Enterprise Value (EV)  

Enterprise Value (EV) offers a comprehensive approach in comparison to market capitalization by incorporating debt and cash levels. It sums the market value of equity and total debt, then subtracts any cash and cash equivalents the company holds. This helps present a clearer picture of the company’s valuation.

To put it into a formula:

Enterprise Value = Market Capitalization + Debt − Cash Enterprise 

This method is hugely beneficial as it considers both debt and equity, providing a wholesome picture of what the cost of selling or purchasing the business would equal. It helps compare companies with varying financial structures and assess their total value, including what they owe and own. 

These valuation methods have strengths, making them invaluable tools for investors and analysts. DCF is excellent for understanding potential future value. In contrast, market capitalization offers a quick snapshot of market perception and enterprise value, which comprehensively assesses a company’s overall worth. Together, they provide varied perspectives that can help investors make informed decisions. It is often beneficial for financial professionals or company owners to consider more than one method to ensure their company valuation is accurate rather than overvalued or undervalued.

The Key Takeaway

Given the current complex financial landscape, understanding the value of one’s business is extremely crucial, irrespective of whether you’re preparing for a sale, seeking investment, or planning for self-sustained growth. By employing various valuation methods, such as DCF, market capitalization, and enterprise value, one can better understand what their company might be worth. 

If you need to be better-versed in finance, fret not; outsourced financial services and business valuation companies can be a valuable resource. Business valuation experts, professionals, and financial advisors can bring a wealth of knowledge, ensuring accurate business valuation. This is essential for making informed decisions about where your business is headed. 

Additionally, incorporating an understanding of your business’s assets, market trends, and industry comparisons into your valuation process can provide a more detailed picture of the company’s financial health, further aiding potential growth. 

Combining these approaches and consulting with professionals can achieve a balanced and informed valuation, which is crucial for guiding your business toward sustainable growth and success. This multifaceted approach not only aids in reaching a fair business valuation but also in crafting a strategic path forward in today’s competitive marketplace.

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Want to know more? In addition to HR, benefits, recruiting, and payroll through its PeopleOps, Escalon’s Essential Business Services include FinOps (CFO services, taxes, bookkeeping, and accounting) and Risk (business insurance). Talk to an expert today.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal, or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please contact us here.


Devayani Bapat
Devayani Bapat

With 6 years of experience in copywriting and social media management across genres, Devayani's heart lies with weaving words into stories and visuals into carefully crafted narratives that’ll keep you wanting more. She carries with her, her pocket notebook, a trusted confidante that goes with her wherever she goes, and scribbles down into it anecdotes on the go. Her secret weapon for keeping all things copy interesting! Apart from writing, Devayani is huge on travelling. You'll find her booking her next adventure while she's on her current one. And while on those adventures, you'll find her devouring true crime books one after the other. Whether it's a low down on a recent case or one that occurred 70 years ago, she can cook up a story narration you'll never forget.

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