Sikich Series on Business Succession Planning: What You Need to Know About Business Valuations

Most business owners will have a valuation conducted a mere handful of times throughout their career. For this reason, there is often a great deal of uncertainty around business valuations, their purpose, and the worth they can offer. It is important to note that there are very specific circumstances under which a business owner needs to have a business valuation conducted. They are most commonly needed when a business is being put on the market for sale, and a fair and accurate value of the business needs to be established. Valuations should also be performed when establishing partnership agreements, buy-sell agreements, exit planning, and litigation. When it comes time to have a valuation, most people have questions about the process, required information, valuation methods, and how long the report is valid for. To help clients, prospects, and others understand valuations, our team of Business Succession Planning professionals at Sikich have provided a summary overview below:

When are Valuations Needed?

As mentioned above, most business owners seek a valuation when they are preparing to sell the company, are engaged in succession planning, or for other transactional purposes. However, there are other situations where a valuation may be needed, like for litigation, tax reporting, and planning purposes. Because the business is the most valuable asset owners possess, it is common to need a valuation for tax reporting purposes, such as estate and gift tax planning, charitable donations, and corporate entity conversion. Although unpleasant, the value of the company is required in litigation actions, too, including marital dissolution, shareholder disputes, economic damages, and fraud. Lastly, a business valuation is used by many business owners as a planning tool to understand the company’s value and how to enhance it over time.

How is Value Determined?

There are three approaches used by business valuation professionals to determine the fair value of a company. These include the income approach, market approach, and asset approach. Each method is appropriate for companies in different circumstances and are described below:

  • Income Approach – Focuses on evaluating the cash flow benefits from investing in a company against the expected return for assuming risk and associated uncertainty.
  • Market Approach – Determines the value of a company based on completed transactions of comparable companies (generally by industry). This approach is familiar to many since residential real estate is valued in a similar manner.
  • Asset Approach – Determines value by measuring the fair market value of a company’s assets less its liabilities. This is most often used to determine the value of a holding company or an underperforming company.

What Information is Needed to Perform a Valuation?

While each situation is different, there are foundational items needed to begin the valuation process. These include profit and loss statements, balance sheets from the last five years, corporate tax returns from the last five years, and a balance sheet for the current year. In addition, copies of current year forecasts and projections are usually requested. Finally, information about the company’s products/services and list of assets, including inventory and any liabilities, is also needed.

What is the Expiration Date?

Technically, a business valuation does not expire. However, a valuation is designed to appraise the worth of the company at a certain point in time. Key internal and external factors that impact the value of a company can vary significantly over time. So the more time that has passed since the valuation, the less accurate it will be and less likely to be accepted. Many estate planning attorneys will require an update if the valuation is more than six months old.

Business valuations can be complex and require a qualified advisor to help navigate the process. Depending on your circumstances, there may be a more appropriate valuation approach over another. If your company needs a business valuation, Sikich offers the tools and resources to guide you through the process. Contact us for additional information about business valuations and the services we can provide to company owners.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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