Business owners are creative and strategic about how they live their lives. Naturally, they are extremely cautious about spending money on things they don’t “need”. Traditionally, one of the things that falls into the “I don’t need it category” is a Business Valuation. This post serves to analyze a new kind of Business Valuation, and offers 6 reasons why business owners should get one on a regular basis.
A common misconception is that all Business Valuations were created equal. There are very specific times (i.e. immediately prior to an impending sale) when a formal Business Valuation – the kind that can cost upwards of $10,000 – may be required. 99% of businesses don’t require this type of valuation on an ongoing basis, and most business owners are unwise to buy one.
What most business owners don’t know is that another kind of business valuation is available. For purposes of this article, we will refer to it as an estimate of value.
Put simply, it is an informal business valuation that considers a narrower scope of factors than its counterpart. Less detail and no promise to defend the valuation in a court of law means the cost to own is typically less than $1,000. The kicker? If you know where to look, you can find an estimate of value that is continuously updateable (online), extremely accurate, and includes Key Performance Indicators. Now THAT is something most – if not all – businesses can and should be utilizing.
Here are 6 reasons why:
- Better understand your business and its potential. Estimates of value can uncover key insights into the effectiveness of your business operations. How? The RIGHT report provides more than just a value; they provide Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that serve to benchmark your company against your peers. You’ll know exactly how you are stacking up against your competitors, both locally – and nationally. Taken a step further, you will understand the areas that your company can improve to become more attractive (more valuable) to potential buyers. KPIs and other financial metrics , when analyzed correctly, uncover a path to unlocking business value.
- Know the value of your largest asset so you can plan for retirement. According to multiple reports, the average small business owner has 80 – 90% of their net worth tied up inside their business. It can be incredibly difficult – if not impossible – to truly plan for your retirement if you don’t have a realistic expectation of what your nest egg is worth. On the contrary, if you have an annual income goal in mind for retirement, an estimate of value can help you and your financial planner assess whether or not you are on track to meet that income goal! If you find out that you are behind the 8 ball, you can take deliberate action to grow the value of your business to the level you need to retire.
- Ensure the business and your family are properly protected. There are various kinds of business insurance, from general liability to crime protection. Based on the industry you are in an experienced business insurance agent can easily tell you the kinds of insurance you need. The more difficult task is determining the correct amount of coverage. Because successful businesses increase in value over time, it’s very unlikely that the amount of business insurance you needed 5 years ago is the same amount you need today. Many small business owners are underinsured based on their business value, and it’s because they simply do not have a realistic idea of what they are worth (i.e. what they need to protect). You can help your business insurance agent take the guess-work out of the amount of coverage you need by supplying them with an updated business valuation on an annual basis.
- Develop an Exit Plan. Many small business owners have an idea that they will pass along ownership to the next generation of workers. Problem: Most of the time, those workers do not have the financial resources available to execute a buyout when the time comes. An estimate of value can help you set expectations with the future owners of the company. Future owners can begin to prepare their personal balance sheets for a buyout. You may also choose to incorporate an incentive program to assist in expediting the succession.
- Even if you decide to sell your business to a 3rd party, obtaining an estimate of value early in the planning process can help you manage expectations and identify opportunities for improvement.
5. Create / update buy-sell agreements with partners. Some business owners think that if they die, their family could maintain an income stream by continuing to run the business themselves or by hiring someone to handle the day-to-day management. In reality, loved ones usually do not have the skills or the desire for the job. What’s more, your co-owners may not welcome the idea of an unintended partner. That’s why buy-sell agreements are important! They serve to protect owners and families by establishing a process to buy an owner’s share of the business at an agreed upon price in the event of death, disability or retirement.
- Just as many businesses are underinsured for business insurance, most multi-owner entities have buy-sell agreements that do not accurately reflect the current value of the business. It is recommended that buy-sell agreements be updated annually to reflect the current value of the business. These agreements should also be funded by life insurance to provide liquidity in the event of an owner’s death. Failure to appropriately fund a buy-sell agreement can leave both the company and loved ones at risk
6. Establish a trust or create an estate plan. The current estate tax threshold for 2017 is $5.49 million per individual. For married couples, that means nearly $11 million is exempt from estate taxes. While this is more than enough for most individuals to have to worry about estate taxes, business owners are among the most likely to experience estate tax issues. Truly understanding and managing your estate tax situation is impossible without an updated estimate of value. An EOV, combined with advice from an experienced estate planning attorney and financial planner helps heirs avoid the 40% tax that currently affects estates exceeding $11 million.
Epiphany Law partners with BizEquity to deliver valuation reports as part of the firm’s Exit Planning Services. Non-Exit Planning clients utilize the service at a cost of $400 for the initial report, and an annual license fee of $400 thereafter – which includes an annual valuation update and continued use of the software.
So, for $800 you can get a current valuation that can be updated continuously. At that price point, there is little excuse for a business to NOT know what it is worth.
You can learn more about Epiphany Law’s business valuation services, and find our link to getting started HERE.
If you have questions or comments, feel free to get in touch!