Business Valuation

Bradford Toney
Updated At


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What is Business Valuation?

A Business Valuation is a process and set of procedures used to estimate the economic value of an owner's interest in a business. Business valuation is used by financial market participants to determine the price they are willing to pay or receive to conclude a sale of a business.

Valuation is also necessary in many other business processes, such as:

  • Corporate finance decisions
  • Mergers and acquisitions transactions
  • Financial reporting and tax purposes
  • Litigation
  • Estate planning

There are several methodologies for valuing a business:

  • Income Approach: Looks at the economic benefit expected to be generated in the future, such as discounted cash flow (DCF).
  • Market Approach: Compares the business to similar businesses that have already been sold.
  • Net Assets Approach: Often used for businesses with significant tangible assets, it considers the fair market value of the assets minus the liabilities.
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Business Valuation vs. Business Appraisal:

Though both these terms are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences.

A Business Valuation provides an economic analysis of a company’s value and is usually conducted by financial professionals, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs). Valuation covers a broad spectrum of methods based on the purpose, such as DCF for future-looking financial decisions or comparable companies analysis for market-driven decisions.

A Business Appraisal, on the other hand, is a more formal and standardized evaluation typically conducted by a certified professional who is likely to follow a strict methodology. The appraisal is more of a legal term used in legal settings such as divorce settlements or estate planning.

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How to Calculate Business Valuation:

Business Valuation can be calculated in several ways, but one method is the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) approach. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Forecast cash flows: Look at historical revenues, costs, working capital, and capital expenditures to project future cash flows.

Determine a discount rate: This is usually the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) which reflects the cost of equity and debt and their respective proportion in the finance mix.

Discount future cash flows: Apply the WACC to discount the future cash flows back to their present value.

Add up the discounted cash flows: Adding these gives you the total present value of future cash flows, which is the enterprise value of the company.

It's crucial to note that the DCF method requires some level of subjectivity, particularly when forecasting future cash flows. Therefore, it is often complemented by other methods.

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Why is Business Valuation important?

A precise business valuation is one of the most essential elements for any business owner for several reasons:

Selling the business: Knowing the value can help set a proper selling price.

Merger or Acquisition: Accurate valuation helps when combining with another business.

Raising Capital: To attract investment, companies need to showcase their worth.

Succession Planning or Divorce: Identifying the value of the business assists in equitable distribution.

In simple terms, a Business Valuation is just like a price tag for your business. It’s a way of measuring a company's worth using several different methodologies, depending on the goal of the evaluation. Whether individuals are looking to buy, sell, or invest in a business, or it's part of legal procedures like a divorce or estate planning, a business valuation becomes essential. It can be calculated in various ways, but always involves some level of subjectivity and professional judgment.

Hayes, A. (2024, January 3). Valuing a company: Business valuation defined with 6 methods. Investopedia.

Fernando, J. (2023, November 7). Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) explained with formula and examples. Investopedia.

Schmidt, J. (2023, December 22). Valuation overview. Corporate Finance Institute.

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