There is little doubt that valuing a business is often complex. In part, this complexity is due to the fact that business evaluation is subjective. The simple fact is that the value of a business is often left to the mercy of the person conducting the evaluation. Adding yet another level of complexity is the fact that the person conducting the valuation has no choice but to assume that all the information provided is, in fact, correct and accurate.
In this article, we will explore the six key issues that must be considered when determining the value of a business. As you will see, determining the value of a business involves taking in several factors.
Factor #1 – Intangible Assets
Intangible assets can make determining the value of a business quite tricky. Intellectual property ranging from patents to trademarks and copyrights can impact the value of a business. These intangible assets are notoriously difficult to value.
Factor #2 – Product Diversity
One of the truisms of valuing a business is that businesses with only one product or service are at much greater risk than a business that has multiple products or services. Product or service diversity will play a role in most valuations.
Factor #3 – ESOP Ownership
A company that is owned by its employees can present evaluators with a real challenge. Whether partially or completely owned by employees, this situation can restrict marketability and in turn impact value.
Factor #4 – Critical Supply Sources
If a business is particularly vulnerable to supply disruptions, for example, using a single supplier in order to achieve a low-cost competitive advance, then expect the evaluator to take notice. The reason is that a supply disruption could mean that a business’ competitive edge is subject to change and thus vulnerable. When supply is at risk then there could be a disruption of delivery and evaluators will notice this factor.
Factor #5 – Customer Concentration
If a company has just one or two key customers, which is often the situation with many small businesses, this can be seen as a serious problem.
Factor #6 – Company or Industry Life Cycle
A business, who by its very nature, may be reaching the end of an industry life cycle, for example, typewriter repair, will also face challenges during the evaluation process. A business that is facing obsolescence usually has bleak prospects.
There are other issues that can also impact the valuation of a company. Some factors can include out of date inventory, as well as reliance on short contracts and factors such as third-party or franchise approvals being necessary for selling a company. The list of factors that can negatively impact the value of a company is indeed long. Working with a business broker and a professional business appraiser is one way to address these potential problems before placing a business up for sale.Read More
Microsoft’s recent $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn provides an illustrative example of a strategic acquisition – the type of sale that usually garners the most gain for the acquired company’s shareholders.
You may be wondering what a billion-dollar acquisition has to do with your business, but the very same reasons a strategic acquirer buys a $26 billion business holds true for the acquisition of a $2 million company.
The financial vs. strategic buyer
A financial buyer is buying the future stream of profits coming from your business, whereas the strategic buyer is buying your business for what it is worth in their hands. To simplify, a financial acquirer buys your business because they think they can sell more of your stuff, whereas a strategic buyer acquires your business because they think it will help them sell more of their stuff.
One might argue that Microsoft overpaid for LinkedIn given that LinkedIn only generated a few hundred million dollars in EBITDA last year, meaning the good folks in Redmond paid an astronomical multiple of LinkedIn’s earnings.
But earnings are not the only thing strategic acquirers care about when they go to make an acquisition.
Microsoft‘s acquisition of LinkedIn is a classic example of a strategic acquisition. The Redmond-based technology giant has been undergoing a major transformation from being a software company focused on operating systems to a business concentrating on cloud-based software applications. Microsoft enjoys a dominant market share in the basic tools white-collar business people use to get their job done, but other software packages have begun to nip at the heels of their dominance in many product lines.
Take Microsoft Office for example. Many businesses have started to use competitive offerings from Google and Apple. Even more companies cling to older versions of Microsoft Office software, even though Microsoft is keen to move everyone over to the cloud-based Office 365.
In purchasing LinkedIn, Microsoft saw an opportunity to suck data from LinkedIn into Microsoft’s cloud-based software applications, making them irresistible. Imagine you’re a sales person and you just landed a big meeting with a new prospect. You enter the appointment as a Microsoft Outlook event and suddenly the details of the event feature everything LinkedIn knows about your prospect.
Now you can make small talk about where they went to school, the previous jobs they have held and know the scope of their current role – all without ever leaving Outlook.
Microsoft is betting this kind of integration across its platforms will compel more people to upgrade to the latest software applications. While your company is likely smaller than LinkedIn, the same thing that makes a giant buy another giant holds true for smaller businesses. To get the highest possible price for your business, remember that companies make strategic acquisitions because they want to sell more of their stuff.Read More
Have You Discovered Your Recurring Revenue Model?
When it comes to the value of your business, what happened in the past is much less important than what is likely to happen in the future.
One of the most important ways you can shape the future of your business is to create some recurring revenue. Recurring revenue comes from those magical sales you make without really trying. Good examples of recurring revenue models include ongoing service contracts, subscriptions, and memberships – basically any sale situation the customer has to proactively opt out of, instead of in to.
Recurring revenue is critical for the value of just about any small business, and it is equally import for the world’s largest businesses.
Why ICD bought Porto Montenegro
If you’re looking for a fun example of why recurring revenue matters, take a look at The Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and their acquisition of Porto Montenegro Marina and Resort. If you happen to be the heir to a European royal dynasty or are a Silicon Valley billionaire, you’ve probably parked your boat in Porto Montenegro (ok that’s maybe not too may of us). Along with 450 berths for the world’s largest super yachts, there’s a 5 star hotel, ultra exclusive residential properties and 250 high-end boutiques to indulge just about any fancy.
Porto Montenegro is the brainchild of Peter Munk, who is best known as the founder of Barrick Gold Corp. Munk fell in love with the natural beauty of the Adriatic coastline and saw an opportunity to buy an old naval ship yard and transform it into one of the world’s most exclusive travel destinations.
So why on earth would ICD, the principle investment arm of the Dubai government, be interested in buying a glorified parking lot in the middle of an old naval base?
Well it turns out that super yachts need a lot of regular maintenance. In fact, the average super-yacht owner spends 10% of its value every year on repairs and maintenance. ICD wanted the steady flow of recurring revenue from maintenance contracts with the well-heeled owners who moored their yacht at Porto Montenegro.
Tomorrow vs. Yesterday
Porto Montenegro is a billion-dollar reminder that recurring revenue is important for large companies, but creating an annuity stream can be even more important for smaller businesses. It can be tempting to celebrate the large project wins or a big sale to a one-off customer, but when it comes to valuing your business, acquirers may discount those as aberrations and focus on the steady flow of your recurring business.
There are a number of “recurring revenue models” that may be of value to your business. To learn more about increasing the value of your business and The Value Builder System click here.Read More
Naturally, as a seller you want the highest price you can get for your business. But in some cases, however, it might not be the best deal. There’s an old adage “You can’t separate the Price and Terms.”
For this reason, every offer should be reviewed carefully. When an offer is presented, naturally the first thing as a seller you look for is the “price.” If it is lower than anticipated, many seller’s first reactions are to decline the offer give it back, initiating the case for its being much too low. As a seller you should consider an offer carefully and avoid quick knee jerk reaction.
Here are a few alternatives that might offset a lower price:
• an offer with no or very few, and easily satisfied contingencies (can help to create a successful close)
• a consulting agreement or other deferred compensation- often can add up nicely for sellers
• a quick closing
• all cash, if that’s important
• employment contracts with relatives or long-time employee(s)
• business vehicle to remain with the seller
• buyer has a long success record indicating long-term survival
• short-term payment period if seller financed
When a professional business broker is involved, he or she can point out those areas that may offset the price, down payment or the structure of the deal. After all, the important thing is not what as a seller you get, but what you get to keep!Read More
For many, January and the New Year is a time of resurgence and resolutions. It’s a month to reflect on last year’s results and to set goals for the year ahead. A great question to ask yourself is “Will your business be more valuable this time next year?”
Some people will set personal goals like exercising more or quitting a nasty habit, and most company owners will set business goals that focus on hitting certain revenue or profit milestones. But if your goal is to own a more valuable business in 2016, you may want to make one of the following New Year’s resolutions:
- Take a two-week vacation without checking in with the office. When you return, you’ll see how well your company performed and where you need to make a key hire or create a new system.
- Write down at least one process per month. You know you need to document your systems, but you may be overwhelmed by the task of taking what’s inside your head and putting it down in writing for others to follow. Resolve to document one system a month and by the end of the year you’ll own a more sellable company.
- Offload at least one customer relationship. If you’re like most business owners, you’re still your company’s best salesperson, but this can be a liability in the eyes of an acquirer, which is why you should wean your customers off relying on you as their point person. By the time you sell, none of your key customers should think of you as their relationship manager.
- Cultivate a new relationship with a new supplier. Having a “go to” group of suppliers is great, but an over-reliance on one or two suppliers can create a liability for your business. By spreading some of your business to other suppliers, you keep your best suppliers hungry and you can make a case to an acquirer that you have other sources of supply for your critical inputs.
- Create a recurring revenue stream. Valuable companies can look into the future and see where their revenue is going to come from. Recurring revenue models can vary from charging customers a small amount for a special level of service to offering a warranty or service contract.
- Check your contracts and make sure they would survive the change of ownership of your company. If not, talk to your lawyer about adding a line to your agreements that states the obligations of the contract “surviving” in the event of a change of ownership of your company.
- Start tracking your Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS methodology is the best predictor that your customers will re-purchase from you and/or refer you, which are two key indicators of a healthy and successful company. It’s also why many strategic acquirers and private equity companies use NPS as a way to measure the health of their acquisition targets during due diligence.
- Get your Sellability Score. All goals start with a benchmark of where you’re at today, and by understanding your company’s Sellability Score, you can pinpoint how you’re doing now and which areas of your business are dragging down your company’s value.
A lot of company owners will set New Year’s resolutions around their revenue or profits for the year ahead, but those goals are blunt instruments. Instead of just building a bigger company, also consider making this the year you build a more valuable one.
If you would like to know how valuable or sellable your business is take The Sellability Score survey here. Or if you have questions or would like to learn more about selling your business give us a call at 916-993-5433.
Happy New Year!!!Read More
Business owners are often asked, “Do you think you will ever sell your business?” The answers vary from: “Only when I can get my price” to “Never” to a realistic “I don’t really know” with everything else in between. “When will you sell your business?” is often asked, but very seldom answered. Certainly, misfortune can force the decision, but no one can predict this event. Most don’t believe or accept the old expression that advises, “It is always a good idea to sell your horse before it dies.”
There is an also an old adage that says: “You should start planning on exiting your business the day you buy or start one.” You can’t predict misfortune, but you can plan on it. Unfortunately, most sellers wait until they wake up one morning, and just drive around the block several times working up the courage to begin the day working in their business. This is a common sign of “burn-out” and is an-going problem with small business owners. Or, they face family pressure to start “taking it easy,” or to move closer to the grandkids. Now what?
There are really only four ways to leave your business. Obviously, the easiest is to put the key in the door and walk away. It’s also the worst way! The years of hard work building a business has a value. Another way is to transfer ownership to one’s children or child. Assuming one of them is interested and capable, it can mean a successful transfer and a possible income stream. A third way is to sell it to an employee. The employee may know the business, but may lack the interest or skill for ownership or the funds necessary to pay for it. The fourth way, and the one taken by the majority of small business owners, is to sell it and move on. Every business owner wants as much money as possible when selling, so now may be a good time to begin a pre-exit or pre-sale strategy. Here are a few things to consider when you start planning your exit strategy.
Buyers want cash flow.
Buyers are usually buying a business with a cash flow that will allow them to make a living and pay off the business, assuming it is financed – and most are. Buyers will look at excess compensation to employees and family members. They will also consider such non-cash items as depreciation and amortization. Interest expenses along with owner perks such as auto expense, life insurance, etc., will also be considered. A professional business broker is a good source of advice in these matters.
Appearances do count.
Prior to going to market, make sure the business is “spiffed up”. Do all of the signs light up properly at night? Replace carpet if worn; paint the place and replace that old worn-out piece of equipment that doesn’t work anyway. If something is not included in the sale – like the picture of Grandfather Charlie who founded the business – remove it. An attractive business will sell for much more than a tired and worn-out looking place.
Everything has value.
Such items as customer lists, secret recipes, customized software, good employees and other off-balance sheet items have significant value. They may not be included in a valuation, but when it comes time to sell, they can add real value to a buyer.
Eliminate the Surprises.
No one likes surprises, most of all, prospective buyers. Review every facet of your business and remedy any problems, whether legal, financial, governmental, etc., prior to placing your business up for sale.
Your professional business broker can assist in all facets of preparation. They know what buyers are looking for and they also are familiar with current market conditionsRead More
The 3rd quarter 2015 Sellability Tracker showcases survey results based on business’s completing The Sellability Score Survey, an interactive tool offering a comprehensive assessment of the “Sellability” of a business. Completing the Sellability questionnaire gives you an overall Sellability Score out of 100, plus your score on the eight key drivers of Sellability, which are statistically proven to increase the value of your company.
The average offer multiple of earnings for owners completing the survey for Q3 2015 was 3.76. Below are a few Q3 highlights from a few of the 8 key drivers that have an affect on how Sellable a Business is and on Multiples of Earnings from buyer’s offers. How Sellable is your business?
Multiple of Earnings
Q3 2015 Sellability Tracker Average is 3.76
|3.99||If your business is geographically scalable|
|4.03||Companies that offer little or no customization to their product or service get somewhat higher offers.|
Owner Relationship with customer
|Owner knows each customer by first name
Owner does not know customers personally and rarely gets involved in serving an individual customer.
How Easy Would It Be To Accommodate 5 X Demand?
Businesses with recurring revenue > than 50% of total revenue get more offers and higher multiples.
|12.29% of surveyed received offers (average)
17.56% with recurring revenue > than 50% of revenue received offers
|< than 1m in Revenue
1-3m in Revenue
3-10m in Revenue
10m+ in Revenue
|Bring shoebox of receipts to CPA at years end
Use accounting software product like QuickBooks
Review and Engage accounting audit in place
Overall Sellability Score
The Sellability Score algorithm was developed using a quantitative survey of business owners and is continually refined, based on the thousands of business owners who get their score each quarter. Achieve a Sellability Score of 80+ and – based on research from thousands of test cases – your company will be worth 71% more than the average business. To learn more about how to improve the Value of Your Business visit Evobizsales.com or call Evolution Advisors in the Roseville/Sacramento area at 916-993-543.Read More
As reported in BizBuySell’s recent Q3 2015 Insider’s Report the number of business transactions in the 3rd quarter of 2015 are down. This is compared to the markets record high level in 2014. Bob House, Group GM of BizBuySell.com andBizQuest.com said “After a very active 2014, this year’s small drop in transactions should be viewed as a stabilization of the market rather than a trend in the opposite direction. Overall, the buying-selling environment remains very robust.”
Below are some notables from the report. To view the entire report click here.
- Small Business transactions down 9% compared to 3rd quarter 2014 totaling 1814 business’s changing hands.
- Financial stability of business’s listed grew 4% to $450,000 in average revenue.
- Retail industry saw the biggest decline at 17% fewer transactions
- Pacific region down 22% in business sales transactions
- The median revenue of small businesses has been on a steady incline since mid-2012, leading to higher sale prices upon exit.
- BizBuySell Buyer-Seller Confidence Index reported a Seller Confidence Score of 62, up after two consecutive years at 56.
Regional Business Listed Data*
|California Highlights||# listed||Cash Flow Multiple||Hypothetical 250kCash Flow x Multiple = Listing Price|
|Contra Costa-Alameda-Solano, CA||189||2.75||$687,500|
|San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA||401||2.50||$625,000|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA||363||3.17||$792,500|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||162||2.96||$740,000|
Many executives of both public and private firms get a physical check-up once a year. Many of these same executives think nothing of having their investments checked over at least once a year – probably more often. Yet, these same prudent executives never consider giving their company an annual physical, unless they are required to by company rules, ESOP regulations or some other necessary reason.
A leading CPA firm conducted a survey that revealed:
- 65% of business owners do not know what their company is worth;
- 75% of their net worth is tied up in their business; and
- 85% have no exit strategy
There are many obvious reasons why a business owner should get a valuation of his or her company every year such as partnership issues, estate planning or a divorce; buy/sell agreements; banking relationships; etc.
No matter what the reason, the importance of getting a valuation cannot be over-emphasized:An astute business owner should like to know the current value of his or her company as part of a yearly analysis of the business. How does it stack up on a year-to-year basis? Value should be increasing not decreasing! It might also point out how the company stacks up against its peers. The owner’s annual physical hopefully shows that everything is fine, but if there is a problem, catching it early on is very important. The same is true of the business.
Lee Ioccoca, former CEO of the Chrysler Company said in commercials for the company, “Buy, sell or get-out-of-the-way,” meaning standing still was not an option. One never knows when an opportunity will present itself. An acquisition now might seem out of the question, but a company owner should be ready, just in case. A current valuation may be as good as money in the bank when that “out of the question” opportunity presents itself.
One never knows when a potential acquirer will suddenly present itself. A possible opportunity of a lifetime and the owner doesn’t have a clue what to do. Time is of the essence and the seller doesn’t have a current valuation to check against the offer. By the time it takes to gather the necessary data and get it to a professional valuation firm, the acquirer has moved to greener pastures.
Having a company valuation done on an annual basis should be as secondary as the annual physical – it really is the same thing – only the patients are different.
© Copyright 2015 Business Brokerage Press, Inc.Read More
In a recent article on Axial, 5 simple but important tips are mentioned to consider before selling your business. With the main message being Plan, Plan, and Plan now! No matter when a business owner is going to exit their business it’s NEVER TOO LATE to start planning. Of course there are many items to consider but this list of 5 can have a large impact on the sale of a business.
- Early in the process, consult key decision-makers and those who will be affected by the deal.
- Determine whether and for how long you would like to continue to work after the sale.
- Organize your documents in advance.
- Determine whether you want a partial or total exit.
- Have realistic expectations of value.
For more details on these 5 items please click here to check out the full article. If you’re interested in learning about your selling options, getting a professional business valuation, or learning about the Value Builder System, please feel free to give Evolution Advisors a call at 916.993.5433 or visit our website: www.EvoBizSales.com