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Preparing For a Business Valuation: A Guide For Small Business Owners Thumbnail

Preparing For a Business Valuation: A Guide For Small Business Owners

Whether you’re selling your business, purchasing another, or somewhere in between, a business valuation is the first step in determining the value of a business. Preparing for a business valuation isn’t complicated, but the calculations to determine the value of a business can be.

This guide will help you prepare for a business valuation by exploring valuation options and the additional steps required to calculate an accurate price. Let’s start by looking at the different valuation methods.

Choosing An Evaluation Method

There are five business valuation methods available to small business owners. These methods include:1

  • adjusted net asset
  • capitalization of cash flow
  • discounted cash flow
  • market-based valuation
  • seller’s discretionary earnings

Adjusted Net Asset 

The adjusted net asset is determined by subtracting liabilities from assets while using industry knowledge to adjust both metrics for current value. For example, an asset or liability may be priced lower than its original value due to market fluctuations, therefore adjusting the overall value of the business.  

Capitalization of Cash Flow 

This is determined by dividing your cash flow from your business’s rate of return. Cash flow is an amount of money that entered and exited your business within a given time.2 Your rate of return, or capitalization rate, is the earnings a buyer can expect to receive.

Discounted Cash Flow 

Discounted cash flow refers to a complex process used to calculate the value of a business based on its potential growth.  

Market-Based Valuation

Using this method, similar businesses that have recently been sold are examined to determine the value of your business. 

Seller’s Discretionary Earnings

This valuation method is typically performed only on small businesses. It is calculated by subtracting long-term business costs from pre-tax and pre-interest earnings to determine how much money a business makes.

Establishing a Valuation Plan

Whether you know which valuation method you want to use or not, determining a plan can make the process smoother. Some valuations can be performed on your own. However, for business owners seeking more complex methods, professional assistance may be required.

Consider contacting an advisor, appraiser, or another financial professional to help guide the process and make sure your business is given an appropriate value. 

Organizing Your Documents

Valuation methods draw on a business’s documentation to calculate its final value. Collect the documents necessary for your chosen method as well as any additional forms, contracts, vendors, etc. Each record will help determine the overall value of your business.

Calculating Intangible Assets 

Up to this point, certain documents and assets could be considered tangible, or physical, assets.3 For example, an office could be considered a tangible asset. We often think of tangible assets first when considering business value, but intangible assets should not be forgotten.

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, intangible assets are non-monetary, identifiable, and abstract benefits.4 As an example, an email list could be considered an intangible asset. It is beneficial because it contains the contact information for current and potential clients, possibly leading to more revenue, but it’s not a physical object and does not hold a determined price. 

Other intangible assets could include employee satisfaction or high SEO rankings; think of these assets as unquantifiable benefits.1

Whether you are selling your business, purchasing a new one, or somewhere in between, consult this list to help plan your valuation process. And, when you are ready, contact us to determine your plan of action.


CRA Investment Committee 

Matt Reynolds CPA, CFP®

Tom Reynolds, CPA 

Robert T. Martin, CFA, CFP®

Gordon Shearer Jr., CFP® 

Jeff Hilliard, CFP®, CRPC®

Joe McCaffrey, CFP® 

Phillip Tompkins 

  1. https://www.nav.com/blog/small-business-valuation-methods-how-to-value-a-small-business-474215/
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cashflow.asp
  3. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/accounting/what-are-tangible-assets/
  4. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/accounting/intangible-assets/

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