Business Valuations Methods

Many types of business valuation methods are appropriate when estimating or defining a business value for certain kinds of business evaluations and appraisals. The reason for the evaluation determines which measure will be used. For example, if the purpose is to borrow money, asset values will be key because lenders will be interested in collateral. If the value is based on the selling price of the business, then what the business owns, what it earns, and what makes it unique will be important. The following is a list of many different types of business valuations that can be performed.

* Insurable value
* Book value
* Liquidation value
* Fair market / stock market value
* Replacement value
* Reproduction value
* Asset value
* Discounted future earnings value
* Capitalized earnings value
* Goodwill value
* Going concern value
* Cost savings value
* Expected return value
* Conditional value
* Market data value

This article discusses six of the more popular business valuation methods: 1) Value based on assets, 2) Value based on cash flow or net income, 3) Value based on the integrated method, 4) Value based on net present value of future earnings, 5) Value based on the market data approach, and 6) Value based on the replacement cost approach.

1. Value Based on Assets

Uses: Used most often as a minimum value because a business should be worth at least the value of its assets. Exceptions might occur when a company is losing money.

Steps: Determine the market value of the assets being sold. If business is being sold, deduct the value of any liabilities being assumed by the buyer.

2. Value Based on Cash Flow or Net Income

Uses: Used when a business has few assets, the cash flow being the important thing considered here. The value is based on the return on investment the cash flow represents.

Steps: Adjust the income statement to reflect the true expenses of the business (for example, subtract personal items being paid for by the business). Calculate the appropriate, adjusted type of income to be capitalized: cash flow, net income before or after taxes, etc.. Decide, based on risk and yields of other, “comparable” investments, the desired rate of return or the capitalization (cap) rate. Divide the income to be capitalized (example, cash flow) by the cap rate.

3. Value Based on the Integrated Method

Uses: Used when a company has both assets and cash flow. This method accounts for the value of the assets and then capitalizes the cash flow, but only after reducing the cash flow by the cost of carrying the assets.

Steps: Determine the market value of the assets. Multiply the value of the assets by the interest rate the company pays to borrow money to get the cost of carrying the assets. Adjust the income statement to reflect the true expenses of the business. Calculate the appropriate, adjusted type of income to be capitalized: cash flow, net income before or after taxes, etc.. Subtract the cost of carrying the assets to get the excess earnings. Decide, based on risk and yields of other, “comparable” investments, the desired rate of return (the cap rate). Divide the excess earnings by the cap rate to get the value of the excess earnings. Add the value of the excess earnings to the value of the assets and subtract the value of any liabilities being assumed by the buyer if business is being purchased.

4. Value Based on Net Present Value of Future Earnings

Uses: Used as a method to sell the value of a projected future stream of earnings at a discount. Used mainly with larger, well-documented companies for which the future is somewhat more predictable.

Steps: Adjust the profit-and-loss statement to reflect the true expenses of the business. Calculate the adjusted actual cash flow. Based on supportable plans, project financial statements for 5 years. Forecasting techniques could use moving averages, trending, percentage increases/decreases, or multiple regression. External factors such as industry outlook, technological developments, and government regulation should be considered. Determine cumulative cash flow for the 5 years and discount it to establish the net present value. Each year may be discounted separately to give a more precise value.

5. Value Based on the Market Data Approach

Uses: Value of the business (or other property) is estimated from information on prices actually paid for other, similar, businesses or properties. This the most direct valuation approach and it is easily understood by laymen. However, it requires a reasonably active market, the necessity of making adjustment to actual selling prices in an attempt to compensate for differences and it is generally not applicable to estimating values of intangibles.

Steps: Identify other businesses or properties generally similar to the one being appraised, that have actually been sold. Determine the selling price, then compare each comparable sale with the property/business being appraised, and adjust actual selling price of each comparable property/business to compensate for the significant differences between it and the subject property/business. Use these adjusted selling prices of the comparable properties/businesses as a basis for estimating, by inference, the market value of the subject property/business.

6. Value Based on the Replacement Cost Approach

Uses: Value of the business is determined from the estimated cost of replacing (duplicating) the business asset by asset and liability by liability. Very accurate in valuing tangible assets and reflects actual economic value. Used with asset-heavy businesses such as hotels/motels and natural resources (mining) businesses. Does not take into account the earning power of the business which contributes to total value.

Steps: List all assets to be included in the valuation of the business. Omit any surplus or idle assets that do not contribute to the economic performance of the business. Also, list liabilities, if applicable to appraisal. Estimate the current cost to replace each asset with functionally equivalent substitute; also estimate current value of each liability to be included. Add the estimated costs to replace the individual assets, thus determining the total estimated cost of replacing all assets in aggregate. Subtract estimated current values of liabilities, if applicable. Add the values (liquidation value, wholesale market value, etc.) of any non-contributing assets omitted in the first step.

Reconciling the Value Estimates & Determining the Final Estimate of Value

* Compare the value of estimates resulting from the use of different approaches

* Rank each by the relative degree of confidence

* Use judgment

* Test the final value estimate

* Round the final value

* No useful purpose is served by taking an average

Accounting Tips for Small Business

Perhaps if you lived on “Mysteria Lane”, you could take your small business accounting system and toss it into a trunk and bury it in your backyard. Perhaps, you could also fire your accounting firm and record a message on your phone saying you’ll call back once you strike gold. However, you can’t approach your small business accounting in this manner in real life. Many resources are out there to help you establishes a working accounting system that doesn’t require big buck outsourcing. After some basic instruction and tutorials, you often find many of these duties can be carried out in-house in a very successful manner.

Not every businessperson is adept at performing accounting and bookkeeping duties. Many small business people find these duties as confusing as learning a foreign language or putting together a bike. However, with a little instruction and tutorials, many of these same people find that they can perform many of the basic tasks associated with accounting. For the record, accounting deals with accounts such as expenses and income while bookkeeping has to with entering and balancing books. Although an accounting-impaired small business might be tempted to outsource all duties, the cost associated with this isn’t practical for most small businesses. While at first many people find the language of accounting somewhat confusing, many of the simpler functions like invoices and checkbook balancing in time become second nature.

Accounting software for a small business is programmed to walk a beginner through the simpler duties of accounting and bookkeeping, leaving the owner more time to concentrate on other parts of the business. Some of these simpler everyday duties that are worth pursuing in house on a software program are below:

Classes and tutorials: Take advantage of these so that you don’t fumble through terms and operations. Some manufacturers of these software programs offer classes for a very minimal fee or even for free. Depending on the size of your business, many accounting professional will come into your business and help you get off on the right foot.

General accounting: Many software programs are available to track and store your business affairs in a separate location from your personal accounting activities. These include Microsoft Money, Microsoft Small Business Accounting and QuickBooks. From transfers to deposits, your entries can be used to create budget analysis reports to other informative reports. To let you know when your spending is exceeding your budget, a smart reminder pops up. Rather than using pen and paper to store your accounting information, software suggests appropriate file names and locations. This organizational system comes in very handy at tax times. Additionally, you can print out checks and pay bills online through a dedicated credit card. Make sure you personally sign any checks that your print out.
Payroll: Employee payroll can be done in house with Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2005 (up to 25 employees) and QuickBooks Pro. These programs also track employee work time and job expenses.

Job Management: Creating quotes, developing sales receipts and invoices, comparing actual expenses with estimated expenses, and breaking down job expenditures can be performed through many accounting software programs for small businesses.

Not all accounting and bookkeeping task are everyday duties

Valuations of Business Personal Property

The huge range of assessed value for business personal property (BPP) makes obtaining substantial property tax reductions highly probable. It is not unusual for the range of assessed value for BPP accounts for similar properties to vary by 5,000%! For example, furniture and computers for companies within the same office building sometimes vary from $1 to $50 per square foot. Market value and unequal appraisal are two options for appealing BPP assessments. Given the inequity in BPP assessments and the subjectivity of valuing BPP, property owners have a high probability of success when properly prepared for a BPP assessment appeal. Protest both market value and unequal appraisal.

Market Value, Book Value & Comptroller Schedule

Three popular options for describing value for BPP are: market value, book value, and the Comptroller’s schedule. Market value is defined in section 1.04(7) of the Texas Property Tax Code that reads as follows:

“Market value” means the price at which a property would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions if: (a) exposed for sale in the open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser,
(b) Both the seller and the purchaser know of all the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions on its use, and
(c) Both the seller and the purchaser seek to maximize their gains and neither is in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of the other.

Let’s compare the differences in value resulting from using market value, book value and the Comptroller’s schedule. The BPP for a typical motel room includes items such as bedding, linens, window air-conditioning unit, towels, and a television. Based on market value, after one year, these types of items could probably only be sold for 10% to 30% of the original cost. Book value, based on federal depreciation schedules, indicates a value of 80% of the purchase price after one year. The Texas Comptroller’s schedule for BPP for motels has an eight-year life with 10% depreciation for the first seven years. Hence, the Comptroller schedule indicates one-year old hotel furnishings are worth 90% of their original purchase price. This is clearly inconsistent with market value for these items.


There are a number of controversial issues related to how inventory is assessed. These include shrinkage, damage, functional obsolescence and economic obsolescence. For example, what is the market value of merchandise returned during the week after Christmas on January 1st (the effective date for valuation)? Since returned merchandise has usually been opened, damaged, missing parts or may be an unpopular item, it is worth less than cost in many cases. Market value is relevant in determining the assessed value for inventory for Texas BPP taxes.

Unequal appraisal

Assessed values for BPP accounts often range from ten-times to fifty-times on a per square foot basis for companies in the same industry. For example, real estate brokerage offices, which have 10,000 square feet of office space, may have assessments ranging from $10,000-$500,000. It seems unlikely that the computers and furniture in one brokerage office are 50 times as valuable as those in a competitor’s firm on a per square foot basis.

Appraisal districts tend to accept the assessed value rendered by property owners. Many large companies render using fixed asset listings. Appraisal districts use the cost basis information and the Comptroller’s schedule to calculate the “market value” for property. The valuations for these rendered accounts tend to grossly distort the actual value of these properties. Property owners who do not render have values on the lower end of the range of value. While it seems intuitive that appraisal districts would penalize owners who do not render by sharply increasing their assessed values, the practice is the opposite. Appraisal districts tend to reward property owners who do not render by leaving their assessed values at modest levels. This creates a disincentive to render. It also unequally taxes property owners who render with a fixed asset listing. These factors have caused a high degree of dispersion in BPP assessed values.

How To Appeal On Unequal Appraisal

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to appeal BPP utilizing unequal appraisal, a concept that is fairly new. Most property tax consultants and large property owners have not considered or utilized unequal appraisal regarding BPP. Appraisal districts are resistant to the concept of appealing BPP based on unequal appraisal. (It is inappropriate to tax property owners who render using a fixed asset listing at the highest level, based on utilizing the Comptroller schedule, when allowing property owners who do not render very lean levels of assessment.)

Preparing an appeal based on unequal appraisal for BPP is simple and straightforward. Start by obtaining information on the assessed value, and amount of office space/manufacturing or warehouse space for property owners similar to the subject property owner. This is typically done by using companies with the same Standard Industrial Code (SIC) as the subject property owner. You can obtain this information by sending an open records request to the appraisal district. When appealing, research the assessed value for your competitors. Compile data regarding the assessed value and building area for the subject and comparable accounts into a summary.

When should you appeal?

Appeal annually on market value and unequal appraisal. To effectively appeal on these two options, research unequal appraisal based on assessment comparables on the appraisal district’s web site and evaluate the market value of your BPP. After reviewing both the unequal appraisal and market value options, determine your primary focus for appealing your BPP account. If neither market value nor unequal appraisal provides a basis for appealing your property taxes, you can withdraw the notice of protest or just skip the hearing.