Consulting Services • Published 9/09/2020 Why Business Owners Need to Understand Business Valuation – Especially Right Now
by AJ Lowring 
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True or false: A business owner only needs to understand the value of his or her business when contemplating a sale or when a transaction is imminent.

This idea was not true before the events of 2020, and it is even less true due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its rippling effects through the economy.

Business value can be impactful for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Management planning (growth, strategy, recovery): What if I need to bring on a new partner? What if I need to raise capital to fund growth or recovery efforts? Am I making the right decisions (i.e. return on investment)? Are there acquisition opportunities (and, potentially, depressed values) in the market that will allow my company to grow?
  • Succession planning: How and when am I ready to transition both responsibilities and ownership? Have I identified a successor (family member or other party, internal or external), and have they been made aware of ranges of value? Do I have a clear and current buy-sell agreement to facilitate shareholder transactions?
  • Estate and gift planning: Is now a good time to accelerate gifting while business values are likely depressed? How might tax strategies change in an election year?
  • Exit planning: Maybe I do want to exit my business – how has the current pandemic impacted pricing and timing? Should I delay the sale process due to a depressed value? Conversely, has my business value been positively impacted and is accelerating a sale now an option?
  • Conflict resolution: Unfortunately, disputes are inevitable – do current stakeholders have an understanding on value in the event a dispute arises? Do I have a current buy-sell agreement in place? This understanding can save time and money during already uncomfortable times.
  • Other valuation scenarios: Are there key employees I would like to recruit, retain, and/or incentivize with equity in the business? Am I pursuing certain loans or insurance policies which require a business valuation?

Understanding business value can be challenging in a normal environment. Add to that the current uncertainty caused by the pandemic, and it is even more important for business owners to understand the valuation process.

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