Owning a business


How Business Appraisers Value a Business

Paul Cronin

Paul Cronin

March 6, 2024 ⋅ 2 min read

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If you’re a business owner selling a business for the first time, you likely have several questions about how to value a business. There are several methods for valuing a business from online business valuation calculators to outsourcing your sale price to a business broker. Baton Market, an online marketplace for buying and selling small businesses, leverages both digital and expert resources to help you achieve an accurate listing price. Business appraisers use a variety of methods to appraise a business, depending on factors such as the industry, size, and purpose of the appraisal. Here are some common approaches.

  1. Asset-based approach: This method determines the value of a business by assessing its assets and liabilities. Tangible assets like property, equipment, and inventory are considered along with intangible assets like patents and brand value. Liabilities such as debts are deducted from the total asset value to determine the net asset value of the business.

  2. Income approach: This approach assesses the present value of the business based on its ability to generate income in the future. Methods within this approach may include the Capitalization of Earnings method, Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis, or the Capitalized Cash Flow method. These methods involve estimating future cash flows and discounting them back to their present value to determine the business's worth.

  3. Market approach: This method compares the subject business to similar businesses that have recently been sold or valued. Comparable metrics such as revenue, profits, or multiples of earnings (like price-to-earnings ratios) are used to estimate the business's value. This approach relies on the principle of substitution, assuming that a buyer would pay no more for a business than the cost of acquiring a similar one.

  4. Hybrid approach: Sometimes, a combination of the above methods is used to appraise a business, especially if one method alone doesn't adequately capture its value. For example, a business might use the asset-based approach as a baseline, then adjust the valuation using the income or market approach.

Appraisers typically consider various factors such as the business's financial performance, market conditions, industry trends, and qualitative factors like management quality and competitive positioning. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a fair and accurate valuation that reflects the business's worth in the current market context.