How to Value a Business: A Guide for Small Business Owners


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Guide for Small Business

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Valuing your small business is crucial for various reasons, including future planning and building a strong foundation. Knowing what your business is worth can help you prepare for the future, even if you don’t plan on selling it.

As a small business owner, you juggle multiple responsibilities and wear many hats, making it challenging to manage everything. However, with small businesses being sold at historic rates, it’s crucial to keep your business ready for a potential sale.

Besides selling or buying, determining your business’s value can help you secure investments, focus on areas for improvement, and set fair prices for employees who want to buy or sell shares in your company. For many small business owners, income from the future sale of their company will fund their retirement, making it essential to work towards increasing its value.

To make estimating your business’s value easy, we’ve compiled a guide for small business owners.

Factors You Should Be Aware of When Placing a Value on Your Business

When estimating the value of a business, it’s crucial to consider both tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets, such as property, machinery, and inventory, have a straightforward pricing process. In contrast, intangible assets, like brand recognition, trademarks, and patents, can add tremendous value to a business, making it essential to determine their worth.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the company’s financial metrics, including profitability, annual profit, and revenue. Knowing these figures is vital as potential investors and buyers want to know them down to the last dollar.

Lastly, liabilities, or debts that the company owes, must be taken into account when valuing a business. By examining tangible and intangible assets, acknowledging what makes the business value, and considering its financial metrics and liabilities, you can estimate its worth accurately.

Even if you’re not planning to sell, understanding your business’s value can provide priceless insights into future business decisions. To achieve your end goals, it’s crucial to turn your ideas into actions. Learn more about tactical planning in this related article.

Intangible Assets

Besides tangible assets like fixed and stock assets, a business may also have intangible assets that bring long-term value. These resources include trademarks, copyrights, reputation, brand, client value, company age, team strength, and product type.

Valuing intangible assets can be challenging, but there are several small business valuation methods available to make the process easier. By using these methods, you can get a better understanding of the worth of your business, even with its intangible assets.

If you’re looking to determine the value of your business accurately, it’s crucial to consider both tangible and intangible assets. Learn more about valuing your business in our comprehensive guide.

Small Business Valuation Methods

Price-To-Earnings Ratio (P/E)

To arrive at the right business valuation, small businesses usually rely on the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) or multiples of profit. The P/E ratio is most suitable for businesses with a proven track record of yearly earnings. Typically, the correct P/E ratio is determined by the profit. If a company has a high forecast return growth, it may suggest a higher P/E ratio. On the other hand, companies with an excellent record of repeat earnings tend to have even higher P/E ratios. For instance, if a company makes $200,000 in post-tax earnings, using a P/E ratio of 5 implies a price of $1,000,000. However, since P/E ratios vary from business to business, there is no standard ratio for all companies. Your P/E ratio could be anywhere between 1 and 10, depending on your business and growth projections. Small, owner-managed businesses may have a P/E ratio of 1-2.5, while small enterprises with earnings up to $500,000 a year may have a P/E ratio of 2-7. Small companies with profits above $1,000,000 a year typically have a P/E ratio of 3-10. Learn more about business valuation methods and how they can help your small business in this related piece.

Entry Cost Valuation

If you’re considering starting a new business, it’s essential to have an idea of how much it will cost you to get started. The entry cost appraisal is a helpful tool that can give you a good estimation of the initial expenses involved. Additionally, if you already own a small business, this valuation method can help you determine its value.

To calculate the entry cost valuation, you’ll need to take into account all the expenses that got your business to its current state. This includes start-up costs, such as legal fees and licenses, tangible assets, advertising and marketing expenses, employee recruitment and training costs, product or service development fees, and more.

Once you’ve itemized all the initial expenses, consider where you can cut costs. For example, you could choose to rent a cheaper space, pay your staff the national living wage, or find more affordable suppliers. Once you’ve identified these savings, deduct them from the primary startup figure to arrive at your entry cost valuation.

Asset Valuation

Knowing your business’s net worth is crucial for measuring its overall value. Simply put, it’s the value of all assets minus liabilities. This means that if you have outstanding debts, they must be deducted from your total assets to determine your net worth.

To calculate your business’s net worth, start by tallying up all the assets on your balance sheet. Then, consider factors such as inflation, depreciation, and appreciation to refine your figures. For example, if you have stocks that need to be sold at a discount, their value should be adjusted accordingly.

Asset estimation is ideal for businesses with substantial assets and a stable financial situation. However, it doesn’t take future earnings into account and should be combined with other methods to get a more comprehensive business valuation.

Market Comparison

Valuing your small business is comparable to determining the listing price of your home. One effective method for business valuation is conducting a market comparison with similar businesses in your industry or niche. This approach can provide accurate insights into the worth of your company.

However, finding close comparisons can be challenging as small business sales details are not always readily available. Moreover, sales in this sector are not as frequent as in a real estate. When searching for comparability, consider factors such as industry, customer base, workforce size, and more.

For instance, if two digital marketing firms offer similar services, employ an identical number of people, and charge comparable rates, the one that sells for $350,000 can serve as a benchmark for the other.

What Valuation Method is Appropriate for Your Business?

Choosing the right business valuation model depends on various factors. Keep in mind that certain methods may not be suitable for your business due to specific criteria. It’s important to remember that each valuation method can provide different results. Therefore, it’s recommended to try multiple methods to get a rough estimate of your business’s worth. You can also use a business valuation calculator or seek assistance from a professional business broker to obtain a more precise value.


Valuing your business can be challenging, especially if you have an emotional attachment to it. While you may have a specific figure in mind, it may not align with what buyers are willing to pay. To avoid overvaluing your business, it’s important to remove emotion from the equation and be realistic about the value of your intangible assets. If you’re struggling to do this, consider hiring a third party to conduct the valuation for you. This will ensure you arrive at an accurate figure and prevent your preconceptions from affecting the results.

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