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How to calculate business valuation – A Guide

Valuing a small business is a critical step in various scenarios, whether you’re looking to buy or sell, secure financing, attract investors, or simply gauge the health of your company. Determining a robust and reasonable value of a small business can be challenging, but it’s a crucial process that requires careful consideration of several factors. In this guide, we will delve into the methods and factors involved in valuing a small business to help you make informed decisions.

Understand the Purpose of Valuation

Before diving into the valuation process, it’s essential to clarify why you need to value your small business. Different purposes may require different valuation methods and approaches as well as depth of analysis. Common reasons for valuing a small business include:

  • Selling the business
  • Buying a business
  • Securing financing or loans
  • Attracting investors
  • Estate planning
  • Compliance – Financial reporting and Tax 
  • Legal matters, such as divorce or shareholder or other disputes

Each purpose may have specific requirements and considerations that affect the valuation approach chosen.

Gather Financial Information

Accurate financial data/ information is the cornerstone of any business valuation. Begin by collecting the following documents and information:

  1. Financial statements (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements)
  2. A business plan or a similar document noting details of the business including (its products/ services, its business model, strategy, plan for growth/ expansion, as relevant, competitors, unique selling points/ points of differentiation from competitors) or this information can be gathered through discussions with the company management
  3. Tax returns for the past few years
  4. Details of tangible fixed assets such as plant and machinery (less relevant for service companies)
  5. Details of property/ real estate, if relevant
  6. Details of intangible assets, if any
  7. Inventory records (less relevant for service companies)
  8. Accounts receivable and payable
  9. Details of any interest-bearing loans or debts
  10. Financial forecast/ projections along with support for assumptions
  11. Depreciation schedules
  12. Capital expenditure requirements for the length or life (in years) of the financial projections
  13. Customer and other business contracts and agreements
  14. Leases and real estate documents
  15. Employee contracts and payroll records

Having a complete and organised financial information (both historical and forward looking) is essential for a reasonable, robust and defensible valuation.

Choose a Valuation Method

There are several methods for valuing a small business, each with its own advantages and limitations. The three most common approaches are:

Market Approach:

This method compares your business to similar businesses whose shares are quoted on a stock exchange or that have recently been bought or sold. It relies on the assumption that the market will determine the intrinsic value of your business based on the benchmarks from quoted shares on a stock exchange and from recent transactions of comparable companies.

Income Approach:

The income approach focuses on the potential future income your business can generate. This method uses techniques like the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis to estimate the present value of your business’s future cash flows.

Asset Approach:

This method assesses the value of the assets and liabilities of the business. It can be useful for businesses with significant tangible assets, such as real estate or equipment or for loss making businesses.

The choice of valuation method depends on factors such as the nature of your business, its industry, the stage in its life cycle, the purpose of the valuation and the availability of relevant data.


Valuing a small business is a multifaceted process that requires a combination of understanding in detail the underlying business, financial analysis, the background behind the financial figures (both historical and forecast/ projected) market research, and careful consideration of various factors. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, secure financing, involved in a legal dispute, require valuation for compliance reasons, or attract investors, a well-considered valuation is essential. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can make informed decisions that reflect the intrinsic value of your small business, paving the way for successful transactions, strategic planning or reducing risks. Remember that the value of a business can change over time, so periodic valuations can help you stay informed and adapt to evolving market conditions as well as any changes in the business itself.